You can bet pop culture has a plan for them, and it won’t be anything that honors God.
In the Thick of It lays out a proven model to help you raise your sons to be men of unyielding conviction in a culture of confusion. Each chapter will challenge and encourage you to be intentional about raising boys with a healthy mindset and faith framework in a spiritually hostile world. Jason Cruise, minister to men and father to two boys, covers timeless topics that are essential in the successful parenting of sons--including Divided Loyalties, The Judgment Day of Popular Opinion, Redefining the Goal, What My Sons Deserve from Me, Sowing Manhood, and An Unexpected Witness. No matter what stage of fatherhood you're currently in, you'll be encouraged and equipped to train a new generation as you discover this must-have blueprint for raising your boys to become godly men.
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A man must choose sides.
Every dad must choose sides, but few seem able to do it.
Divided loyalty. That's where many men get lost in raising sons.
Raising boys will straight kill a man if he isn't sure where his loyalty lies.
I knew before we had our first son that I was going to have to pick a path. There was no dotted yellow line splitting this path either. It was a one-way domain, and just as American poet Robert Frost observed, even I could see that few around me were choosing it:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
There were a few dads choosing, but few indeed. And in the end, I didn't care if I had to walk the path alone. I knew before we had our first son that modern culture offered me nothing — nothing — that I wanted my sons to possess.
I have two sons: Cole and Tucker.
I knew even before I met them that they deserved everything I have to offer to prepare them for manhood. Even if I have to walk the path alone.
If you're just now starting this journey of biblical manhood — especially parenting from the context of biblical manhood — know that it is not going to be easy. Sure, you've heard it said many times, but I'm telling you, friend, it's true.
I'm currently in my second decade of raising boys; one is about to become a teenager, and the other isn't far behind. I can promise you that you, like me, are going to wonder, Am I doing this right?
Don't worry. Your parents wondered the same thing. I'd only been a dad for a few days when I became aware that my mom and dad had made things up on the fly.
That's right. Parents often make things up and sell them to their kids as concrete, scientific, and established truth on how the world works. I've done it too many times to count!
My mama is going to read this. So is my daddy. And I'm telling everyone, including them, that parents are the ultimate con artists. Many times when we're in a parental bind, my wife, Michelle, and I both launch the question, "Is this the best decision?"
I was a dad for only about six minutes when I realized that society had done me wrong. I needed both an offensive — and a defensive — playbook for fatherhood, scripted with elaborate contingency plans that included pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. And instructional video links too. Yet I had nothing of the kind. Unfortunately, there is no playbook for parenting.
With that in mind, know that my intention is not to toss out evangelical antidotes on all that is wrong with raising boys in this tolerant modern era. A man could spend a career grasping at such a Solomon's wind. And to be quite candid, I don't have the brainpower to be that clever.
I'D BE LYING IF I DENIED IT
In fact, this was a mind-bending book for me to write.
Too many times in recent days, just after duck season ended and the deadline for this book was on the horizon, my mind drifted to the terror of this assumption: People are going to think I'm an arrogant jerk when they read this. Seriously, who has the gall to put out content on how to parent kids?
Understand that I wasn't raised a philosopher, and I don't consider myself to be one. I did not come from academia, although there is nothing wrong with that. I came from blue-collar roots. My daddy drove a used Chevy truck and owned a small business: an outdoors store, where he opened the doors every morning at 5 a.m.
My family was a classic American family. Mama worked. Daddy worked. Mama cooked dinner every night. Dad threw a baseball with me in the yard. Dad coached my baseball teams and took me hunting and fishing. And such was life.
So if you think I had a plan for raising children all neatly wrapped up and ready to go when my first son was born, well, you'd be quite mistaken. Nevertheless, I wasn't left without any help. I had learned a lot about being a dad, and I was more prepared than I realized at the time.
THEY CALL IT MODELING
My mom and dad supported my educational journey. They were too busy trying to put food on the table to further their own education, and like all parents, they wanted better options for their son.
So off to college I went, and from there on to graduate school. It was in the work of academia where I first encountered the word modeling. Modeling would describe much of how I learned about being a dad — my dad was a master at it. But if you asked my dad today about how he modeled manhood for me, he'd probably look at you with a humble, confused grin.
I'm forever stopping to coach my boys. I'm sure they get weary from my edicts, but it's their lot in life, I suppose. Yes, I'll stop at just about anything and take the podium if I think there's a life lesson to be learned. My dad, on the other hand, didn't explain a ton of things to me. He just lived as an example before me.
I have forever been close to my dad, and we communicated very well, but men in those days just didn't think like the dads of today. There weren't as many books and seminars, and no pod-casts and blogs flooding a man with an artesian well of insight on how to raise kids. No, in those days men worked and did the best they could do.
Watch. That's what I did. I noticed how my dad handled things. I listened when he talked business. I took notice of the way he shook a man's hand. I stood in awe at how he never backed down, not a single inch, from a customer who tried to intimidate him. I logged information on the ways he approached people, debt, hunting, and sports.
I could see that my dad wasn't listening to the cultural pressure plaguing many parents in those days. And above all else, I could see that my dad had convictions — convictions that drove his actions.
That is the point: a man must choose sides. A man must choose the path. A man must pick the ideals and values that he will instill in his children.
If you don't choose — if you're passive — culture will choose your children's ideals and values. Your children's minds and hearts are open ground. If you don't lead them toward holy truth, culture will capture them — without remorse. And their enemy, the devil, will ensure that their hearts don't stay open long.
Your loyalty to choosing God's authority over how you parent must be concrete.
What path have you chosen?CHAPTER 2
THE JUDGMENT DAY OF POPULAR OPINION
I can picture it now.
I write this book, and it lands me on center stage. Oh, not with fat stacks of money and fame, but with cultural awe and wonder: I'm seen as a sort of caveman.
I can see it so clearly. I'm on a nationally syndicated morning show, and the hosts are looking at me like I'm some evangelical, two-headed beast with no teeth from the remote canyons of the northeastern Georgia mountains. Banjo music is playing in the background.
"Who knew these people still existed out there?" is the sound bite leading into the live televised segment. The audience is staring at me with intrigue, as if I'm a zoo-like creature, while the host is taking verbal jabs at my values.
It's dramatic, I know. And I also know that I'm not alone in how I view today's pop culture trends — though it feels like it at times. Nevertheless, many modern trendsetters will view me as if I am a caveman.
When I thought about writing this book, it crossed my mind more than once that perhaps the wisest route would be to write a creative concoction with a nod to James Dobson and John Eldredge, and perhaps a little Steve Chapman. Maybe I should surrender to this thought and find a way to call it my own savvy, southern work on how to raise a boy who has true grit, a son with an inner warrior and a heart for God.
It's been said that the cheapest form of flattery is imitation, so yeah, a small dose of plagiarism could be my best option. Right?
Even though these great men have written from decades of experience, the reality that our rapidly changing culture demands still more needs to be said caused me to press forward with this project.
We can attest that the things Dobson wrote about in Bringing Up Boys, the issues boys deal with psychologically and physiologically, are at least somewhat consistent from generation to generation.
When Eldredge wrote Wild at Heart, it struck at the core DNA of every man, regardless of his era of birth. A man was created with a need for adventure on many levels, and Eldredge conveyed that truth well.
When Chapman wrote 10 Ways to Prepare Your Son for Life, again, those were, and are to this day, timeless bedrock principles.
Ever since I've become a parent, however, culture has shifted furiously and quickly, with seemingly no signs of stopping. And that compels me to speak up.
Culture has morphed into what feels akin to a toxic Matrix plot come to real life. You'd have to be locked in a dungeon not to have noticed. Political correctness interwoven with heretical views of tolerance have eroded the country I now live in to the point that I hardly recognize the nation of my birth.
We are in a culture that is mixed up, turned around, and lost. And here we are as dads, having to raise boys in a culture that literally wants to debate anatomy and can't seem to agree on what a boy is by definition!
This means every dad had better be ready, and ready for today. Every dad needs a plan; and while my insights on fatherhood are far from perfect, they are at least on time.
The hearts and minds of my boys are not for sale. I am the gatekeeper of their hearts and minds, and I will not let their futures be determined by the highest bidder.
THE QUESTION YOU MUST ANSWER
This choosing of sides I've been hinting at to this point is found in the idea of authority.
You're going to have to choose: Who is the authority governing how you raise your sons? Who is the authority that gets the right to tell you what to believe about fatherhood?
A man cannot raise boys with a God-designed intention and yet cater to divided loyalties. There's just too much on the line for you to try and navigate fatherhood absent of convictions.
You must choose your source of authority; that is, you must choose who gets the right to structure your worldview.
And look, it's not as easy as it sounds.
All my life I've seen those bumper stickers. You've seen them too: THE BIBLE SAYS IT. I BELIEVE IT. THAT SETTLES IT.
That is all very true, but just because the Bible says it doesn't mean evangelicals abide by it.
We live in a world wrought by seemingly mundane decisions. Many of those decisions we make in daily quiet moments, but it is in the quiet moments when a divided will, a divided loyalty, shows up most.
Jesus had quite a bit to say about a divided life. He knew culture would push and sway His followers. Look at the haunting clarity in Luke's gospel. Read it slowly and let it sink deep:
"I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!"
There's intensity there, am I right? I can hear it in Jesus' voice. I can almost see it in His eyes.
A man must choose who gets to be his boss, and we'd all better fear the One worth fearing.
THE PHILOSOPHER IN YOU
Each of us has a worldview. You cannot escape it. Your worldview sticks to you whether or not you want it to.
How you look at the world is much like looking through a pair of glasses. And those glasses were put together through life experiences, things your parents did or didn't do, successes, songs, sermons, victories and defeats, and the lessons those moments taught you. Those internal glasses you wear, and through which you look at life, were part made up by you and part passed on to you from others.
The problem for many evangelicals is that their worldview is like a stew mixed with a little of Grandma's wisdom, lessons from their own parents, notes taken from their favorite movies on how life and love work, limited theological understanding, and their favorite Christian songs on the radio. We gather belief systems from a wide range of life experiences.
My point is this: nearly every Christian I know, including me, carries an infected worldview. What else could possibly explain the wide gap we often see in Christian behavior and Christian theology?
Much of what you believe was handed down to you. And when you aren't the sole owner of your theology, life gets divided.
Jesus had a lot to say about that too.
The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.)
The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?"
And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
'This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men."
A person's theology comes from tradition as much as it does from organic truth. We all have that going on inside of us, and God has to get it out of us.
When your theology about raising kids — theology about anything, for that matter — is taken from what your parents told you to believe and what your preacher told you to believe and what your youth minister told you to believe, you're going to find yourself smack in the middle of a divided life because you don't actually own the theology driving your life.
You're just borrowing it.
When your borrowed theology drives your life, don't expect it to hold up under pressure. And when culture leans hard on you, don't expect borrowed theology to give you peace or direction.
There's a leadership axiom that I love because it just makes sense.
If you've read any of my books, or if you get my "Man Minute" devotionals that are delivered every Monday, or if you've followed me on social media for any amount of time, you've likely known me to use this simple illustration. It's an old leadership principle that just works, and it comes in the form of a question:
How do you turn a large battleship? Constant pressure on a small rudder.
Pop culture thinking seeps into your worldview no matter how much spiritual caulk you place around your evangelical heart. No person is completely immune from cultural pressures. That doesn't excuse behavior, but don't think for a second that culture doesn't play a role in spiritual formation.
Every single day you're told by liberal media that "normal" people are tolerant. Every day you're told by liberal media that "normal" people wouldn't dare judge sexual deviancy, even when it is clearly defined by scripture. Every day you're told by liberal media which clothes are considered acceptable to wear. Every day you're being told how to live, how to think, and what's proper and acceptable about how to live and how to think.
Every day — every single day — society leans on you, putting constant pressure on the small rudder of your heart and mind.
Now that we have the most biblically illiterate society in human history, you can see where this is going.
And I'm not even talking about non-Christians. I expect nonbelievers to act like nonbelievers. I'm talking about churchgoers.
When you take biblical illiteracy among Christians and couple it with a society that stays glued to a smartphone — well, should we expect anything less than what we have now?
HOW I OVERCAME POP CULTURE FATHERHOOD
It's strange to say it, because it sounds completely cavalier and out of touch; however, the truth is, I never cared about outside opinions when it came to how I was going to raise my children.
I have never ever honestly cared at all about what people think about me in terms of how I am raising my boys. In fact, to say that may even seem hypocritical. Earlier I went into great detail about how I was concerned at the outset of this project that people might think I consider myself the foremost authority on raising boys — that I'm a know-it-all.
However, when it comes to how others see me as a father, or the methods and ideologies I employ in raising my boys, what others might think doesn't enter my thinking.
Any person who says, "I just don't care what anyone thinks of me" is lying to themselves. We all have at least a few people whose opinions really do matter to us, at least on some level.
My chosen path for how I'm raising boys is a place where I've resolved to be quite independent and immune from public perception.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "In the Thick of It"
Copyright © 2018 Jason Cruise.
Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. Divided Loyalties,
2. The Judgment Day of Popular Opinion,
3. Redefining the Goal,
4. Culture and Plumb Lines,
5. What My Sons Deserve from Me,
6. Sowing Manhood,
7. An Unexpected Witness,
8. In the Thick of It,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In the Thick of It by Jason Cruise is a wonderful book and I’m so glad I read it. It’s a great book for all parents, but especially for fathers. We have two boys and this book is relevant and timely for each. I will definitely be recommending this book to others as it is powerful and encouraging. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour and was under no obligation to post a review.
A wonderful book that acts as a guide on the side to help fathers navigate the world today as they try to raise Godly sons. I love how it is written in an easy to read format with plenty of examples. This is how it happened for me is such an eye opening way to learn the lesson at hand. The frank discussion about "ruthless agendas" is a great reminder that we need to have an open dialog to help safeguard our kids. My favorite topic is "what my sons deserve from me" as it is the soul of the topic of raising children. A good read.
Raising children in today's world is not for the feint of heart. As a mother of boys, I found this book extremely helpful even though it is geared towards dads. If we don't raise up our sons in the way tha they should go, the world will do it for us and we all know the world's way is different from God's. With personal stories from his own journey on this path, Jason Cruise gives us the tools to make a plan, stick to it when the temptation is to relax, and raise our sons to be men of God. Sons, grandsons, nephews, neighbor kids, any boys in your life (not to mention some stuff that works for girls too) will benefit from the wisdom and guidance of Mr. Cruise's book. Challenge yourself to adopt a plan for raising the boys you love to honor God with their very lives. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
A book well worth taking the time to look into. IN THE THICK OF IT: Raising Sons To Be Men Of Unyielding Conviction In A Culture Of Confusion, by Jason Cruise, was interesting indeed. Especially when he talked about divided loyalties, and the two roads diverging in the woods, and on page 20 about being a follower of Christ. And especially about authority on pages 25 and 26. Everything will be going smoothly, when suddenly it will happen. Children will catch you in some public place, for no apparent reason, and throw a fit. I assume it happens to all of us at some time or other. This book will make fathers and mothers think about how fast and how Godly their children are growing up. Take, for instance, what was discussed on page 60 about parenting, and the question that was asked. "Is parenting about discipleship?" And the answer that was given. I am glad I picked this book up and read it. The title page itself says a lot about what it takes to raise children to be Godly in this fast changing world today. Without discipline or instruction, do we know what path our children will take? Unless we live Godly ourselves? If our children see us walking the path to God, will they want to follow in those footsteps, and lead their own children to be Godly too? Because I believe what the author said on page 63. "What you believe drives how you act." If you don't believe it, how can you act on it? I think this book deserved five stars, because the text inside gives us something to think about. Amazing read! I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
In the Thick of It was an easy read packed full of solid, biblical advice for raising sons in the current culture. I found the book to be a great resource for dads raising sons (and as a mom I found it to be helpful even to me). I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing & was under no obligation to post a review.
“In The Thick of It” is a powerful little volume that gets to the heart of the culture war on our children, especially our sons, and how family values and teaching a boy to be a man is so important now more than ever. “The family matters to God. And when you remove the idea of a God-defined family from society, what happens next? All of the powers of hell break loose on the world.” (p. 53) This perfectly describes what is happening to our world. Jason offers practical steps in this book to model how to be a God-fearing man to your sons. While I am a Mom and not a Dad, I learned several practical strategies that any parent can implement. One of my favorites is putting wise sayings or scripture on a board in the child’s rooms. The child will see it everyday and it will start to take root. Excellent, thought provoking quick read. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to do a review. My opinions are my own.
In the Thick of It by Jason Cruise Raising Sons to Be Men of Unyielding Conviction in a Culture of Confusion Do you have a plan, a real plan, for raising your sons to be men of God? You can bet pop culture has a plan for them, and it won't be anything that honors God. In the Thick of It lays out a proven model to help you raise your sons to be men of unyielding conviction in a culture of confusion. Each chapter will challenge and encourage you to be intentional about raising boys with a healthy mindset and faith framework in a spiritually hostile world. Jason Cruise, minister to men and father to two boys, covers timeless topics that are essential in the successful parenting of sons--including Divided Loyalties, The Judgment Day of Popular Opinion, Redefining the Goal, What My Sons Deserve from Me, Sowing Manhood, and An Unexpected Witness. No matter what stage of fatherhood you're currently in, you'll be encouraged and equipped to train a new generation as you discover this must-have blueprint for raising your boys to become godly men. This is a wonderful book to read. I highly recommend reading. In the Thick of It by Jason Cruise is a wonderful well written 5 star book. more books by Jason Cruise A Wanted Man by Jason Cruise The Man Minute: A 60-Second Encounter Can Change Your Life by Jason Cruise NIV, Outdoorsman Bible,by Jason Cruise
In the Thick Of It - Raising sons to be men of unyielding conviction in a culture of confusion gives great tips and helps on raising sons from a father's perspective in our crazy world. Whether you are looking for practical advice on raising your boys in our pop culture world (where pop culture changes constantly) or what do your sons deserve in a dad? He tells us that it is - to have him live out Biblical Manhood, who is intentional about instilling convictions that hold up under pressure and a dad who has a plan. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
In a lot of ways, today's culture and society is messed up. If you are trying to "train up" a Godly boy who will become a Godly man, you are facing many hurdles. In his "In The Thick of It," Jason Cruise details how to teach your own son how to act as a respectable, responsible Christian man. As the mother of boys, I appreciate all the wonderful advice Mr. Cruise has imparted on the raising of boys. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.