“This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him…” John Calvin
If I were writing these books today, this moment, I would want the titles to be STAND FAST IN CHRIST ALONE, and HOLD FAST BY GRACE ALONE.
Colleen Mondor, a reviewer for Booklist wrote recently: "There are literally hundreds of Young Adult books published every year for helping teenage girls navigate the twisty landscape of growing up. The problem is that there are hardly any comparable books out there for [TEENAGE] boys to read... Why girls read more than guys? To any sane children’s book reviewer (or librarian) the answer is obvious -- writers aren’t writing as much for boys, and so boys aren’t reading."
Russ Pulliam, The Indianapolis Star, wrote of HOLD FAST In a Broken World:
"Already well established in historical fiction for young people, Douglas Bond now offers a more direct and vital message for young men and their fathers. With ample story-telling ability, he warns them of the pitfalls and opportunities of youth in a debased culture. The result is a first-class textbook on modern culture, with much wise and challenging counsel for young men and their fathers."
Philip Graham Ryken, Senior Minister, Tenth Presbyterian Church
"Douglas Bond has a special writing gift for making a spiritual connection with boys who are on their way to becoming men. Full of lively illustrations, wise warnings, and hard-hitting application for everyday life, Bond's latest book addresses all of the strong temptations and difficult trials that young men face today. Ideal for personal study or father-son discussion, Stand Fast is an invitation to pursue manly godliness in the adventure of life." T
Joel Belz, Founder, World Magazine
"Douglas Bond doesn't write for the faint-hearted. This is for men who want the next generation--including their very own sons--to be more stalwart than they were themselves. This is no fill-in-the-blanks manual just to make you feel good that you did something with your son. Douglas Bond calls you to set your plow shares deep, do the hard work of parenting while it is yet day, and look to a faithful heavenly father for a rewarding harvest."
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
"Douglas Bond's always lively pen has produced a hard-hitting new work of non-fiction, a work that serves as a robust clarion call to fathers and sons..."
The Rev. Paul Walker, Hospital Chaplain (retired),
BENTLEY B. RAYBURN, Major General, USAF (Retired), wrote in the forward,
"We desperately need our boys to grow up to be strong men and leaders in our society and especially in our churches... STAND FAST In the Way of Truth will help to do that in a powerful way. Francis Bacon said, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” This is of the latter version, for father and son to chew and digest together. It is what learning and leading is all about. In a fresh way, Douglas Bond covers the waterfront of issues that young men must consider as they ponder the challenges of Christian manhood. Featuring the heroic lives of great thinkers, theologians, and warriors, Bond ultimately points young men to the Bible, the source of Truth. STAND FAST In the Way of Truth will encourage you to focus on practical applications, to reject the pressures to compromise and conform to the culture around us, and to clean out the sin in our lives, and then to live lives that are pleasing and honoring to God. Douglas Bond’s engaging study will help us as men know how to think about our world and our responsibilities as sons and fathers and leaders. I would encourage dads and sons to read it together, to discuss it, to pray over what you’ve learned, and to memorize the key scripture verses together. Christian fathers need to be great leaders and Christian sons need to study leadership and see leadership modeled for them by their fathers. Douglas Bond has given us a book that will help us do that. My prayer is that in chewing and digesting this book, you’ll see God’s great plan for fathers and sons and have the wisdom and courage to follow our great leader, Jesus Christ."
STAND FAST In the Way and the Word
Psalm 119: 9-16
Life’s no joke
Your life as a teenage young man is an exciting and vigorous one, full of possibilities, hopes, dreams, and ambitions. You have many things you want to see and do, places you want to visit, things you want to know, things you want to own. In fact, you want to have it all. It’s in your nature. All of this requires you to make many decisions, to make daily choices about what you are going to do, what you are going to become, where you are going to go. Some of these are big and some seem small, even inconsequential.
Which brings to mind Bill Watterson, creator of monster-in-miniature Calvin. I wonder if Watterson may not be the quintessential philosopher humorist alive today—perhaps in any day. He so memorably tickles the funny bone in our house that my sons and I frequently compare things going on around us with some crack-up episode from Calvin and Hobbes.
Watterson’s hilarious, to be sure, but it’s hilarity with a purpose. His periodic flashes of insight are packaged skillfully in witty perceptions about the relationship between sons and parents and about the human condition. After Watterson has made his fans bust up laughing, however, he gently prods thoughtful readers to pause and consider the enduring things.
In one such place Watterson has Calvin muse, in witty lines of verse, “I made a big decision a little while ago,” but poor Calvin then admits that he’s a bit unclear about just what it was that made the decision so important. As the poem progresses, Watterson perceptively observes that even the simple choices, the seemingly inconsequential ones, at the last, may “prove to be essential”; they may make all the difference in a young man’s life.
If Watterson’s Calvin is right, then young men need to be far more careful about the decisions they’re making. Big or small, decisions have consequences.
Who are you?
You’re young. You’re probably healthy, strong, active, fascinated by many things around you, eager to take on the world, to seize the day, to live life to the fullest, to have fun. Some of you love sports, the squeak of tennis shoe rubber on the gym floor, the blood and sweat of the gridiron, the crack of the bat on the ball, the thrill of victory. You’re so into sports, you’re intoxicated by the smell of the guys’ locker room. Some of you love fast cars, the mall, pop music, designer clothing. Others of you like the outdoors, guns and shooting, stalking game, pick-up trucks, and country music. Others of you fall somewhere between all of these, or in a category all your own. In fact, some of you just love being an individual. You say and do and wear things, at least in part, simply because others do not.
Most of you also claim to be Christians. Many of you have grown up in the church and in Christian homes. All of you are growing up with various degrees of exposure to popular culture. It may seem to some of you like there’s a tug-of-war going on between your father, and the pop culture that surrounds you. It probably seems this way to your father, too.
My guess is that there are times when your parents’ beliefs and the things of God come into clearer focus, when all that they have taught you makes sense and, at some level, you believe it. I am equally certain that there are other times, perhaps many of these, when you are swept away in the tidal wave of enticing experiences offered you by the world, by your own flesh, and by the devil.
How do you find your way through all this? How do you navigate the winding, twisting, enticing way of life? How do you answer the great questions of life? How do you make the big decisions of your life?
Young man, you stand before a great divide, and it is absolutely essential that you take your heart in your hands, that you make a big decision, as Watterson’s Calvin put it, or as Joshua of old put it, that you “Choose this day whom you will serve.”
The real question
In Psalm 119, the Psalmist asks an important question about young men and their way. Teenaged men are bombarded with choices about sports, jobs, money, girls, school, and ambitions. You are faced with consequential questions about how you will spend your time, with whom you will spend that time, what you will choose to think about, and who and what you will become.
All these questions and choices lie before you, but the Psalmist cuts through them all to the real question. “How can a young man keep his way pure?” The young man who gets so distracted by the tyranny of the immediate questions that he fails to ask this question, and keep asking it throughout his days, will not keep his way pure. He will be put to shame, cursed not blessed; he will not walk in God’s ways, and he will make decisions that lead him astray, decisions that will likely bring a measure of grief and sorrow to his life now—but immeasurable grief and sorrow in eternity.
The young man, on the other hand, who genuinely desires to know how to keep his way pure, will hear the Psalmist’s answer, “By living according to [God’s] word” (Psalm 119:9). The young man who lives according to the Bible will walk in God’s ways, will never be put to shame, and will be blessed in all he does. Because of God’s grace and forgiveness, he will find happiness and contentment even when his way is strewn with sorrows and difficulties.
But many will try to tell you that you don’t need the Bible to guide you in your way. Follow your heart, they tell you. After all, critics of the Bible insist that it’s no different from other old books, that it doesn’t give inspired information about your way, that it’s full of inconsistencies and errors, and, thus, is not a reliable roadmap for your way in this world. Whomever you listen to, what you believe about the Bible will profoundly affect your way in this world—and in the next.
Imagine one dry, hot afternoon in 1947. A teenaged herder named Muhammad, napping on the shady side of a boulder, woke with a start. It may have happened that he’d detected a slight change in the rustling, bleating, and munching sounds his herd of goats made as they foraged in the desert wastes near the northwestern foothills of the
Hastily counting the scruffy backs of his goats, he frowned, and counted again. One of them was missing. It wasn’t the first time. And he knew which one it was. Shuddering at the thought of explaining to his father that he’d lost one of the family goats, Muhammad cleared the drowsiness from his brain with a shake of his head. He sprang to his feet, calling for the goat.
His voice echoed off the rocky cliff that jutted into the cloudless blue sky above. Stupid goat, he thought as he scanned the cliff side. Two small dark shadows caught his sight. He studied what looked like cavernous eye sockets on a sun-bleached skull high on the cliff face. Snatching up a stone, Muhammad cocked his arm and took careful aim at the bigger of the two voids.
Bedouin goatherds needed to be good at hurling stones. With a well-thrown stone Muhammad had often driven off wild dogs who stalked his herd for strays. With a heave, he released the stone and watched and listened as it flew toward the dark opening. He smiled as the rock soundlessly disappeared into the cave. Then came an odd sound--not the expected stone-on-rock collision—this was a hollow shattering sound, the sound of breaking pottery. Later, Muhammad scrambled up the cliff face, the dense blue waters of the