This past weekend I attended a memorial service for a great man. His name is Walter, and he had a tremendous impact on countless souls during his years on earth. Walter was an attorney who fought for civil rights during the 60s and 70s and even argued and won more than one case before the Texas Supreme Court.
Walter was heavily involved in Boy Scouts of America and lived to serve and support those in need around him. The drive for Walter’s care for others was rooted in his relationship with Jesus Christ. His passion for Jesus was on display for all to see, even in his last days.
All of that is enough for praise at a memorial. For me, though, Walter was more. He was a significant father figure in my life. So when I got word last Thursday night that Walter had gone home to be with the Lord, I told my wife that there was more of a sense of loss in his death than when my adopted father died.
Walter and his family showed me Christ, and he also demonstrated to me what manhood was in a world of so many mixed messages.
In my book, Confessions, I noted that I lived part of my childhood without a dad in the house. During those seasons, my mother tried to include some men in my life, men such as Walter, and his son, Eric, who led me to Christ. She didn’t fret over getting more ladies into my impressionable heart. She knew that men and women are different and that I needed the gift of masculinity and the challenge of manhood.
As I scan the neighborhoods of the world today, I see this need being much more pressing in the lives of boys and young men. So I try to convey the love of Christ and work to build and encourage boys and young men the way Walter and others encouraged me.
Today, there are times when I meet a young boy and extend my hand, but instead of offering a high five, I’ll say something like, “Let’s shake hands like men.” Sometimes it’s those little encouragements along the way that helps a boy realize who he is and what he can become as he grows. He needs to hear—from a man—that he indeed is or will be a man someday.
I still remember one of those transformational steps. It wasn’t big, but it was recognition, and sometimes that’s enough to get the ball rolling. We were at my aunt and uncle’s house for some family gathering, and I was the only kid my age there. I was bored out of my skull in the dining area, listening to my mom, aunt, and three or four other ladies talk. Then I heard Walter yell at me from the back patio: “Steve, what are you doing? Come out here and sit with the men.” It was a little thing, but why do I still remember it to this day? Because a man I respected called me out to be with him. If this man was calling me a man, then I figured I’d possibly be a man someday, too. Thus I am.
Who was a powerful man in your life?
If you’d like more on the subject of manhood, check out chapter 4 in the Confessions book. Also available at B&N and Audible.
It was late November of 96 and we were packing up to move north for our first full-time ministry after returning from the mission field. The process included securing a moving truck and car trailer in tow. I had never driven anything as big as this truck before and I was a bit concerned, especially with the car trailer attached. My dad never taught me how to handle anything this big before when I was a kid. Actually, he had never really encouraged me that I could do anything bigger than my present reality.
But my friend Todd, who is now a Bible Translator in Papua New Guinea, was with me as we made the final connections for the tail lights. We wiped our hands off and took a deep breath from a job well done. Then, after another deep breath, I said, “Todd, you know, I’ve never really driven anything this big before and honestly I’m a bit afraid that I’m going to wreck it or something.” Todd just looked at me and nodded his head once with a small smile. I went on, “but I guess I just need to be a man about it and push forward.” Again, Todd just gave a small smile and quick nod and only offered the one-word response of, “yup.”
That’s really all there was to it from then on out. We prayed, asking for God’s help. I then shook Todd’s hand, thanked him, and then climbed into the cab and took off. But that’s what I needed. I needed another guy just to tell me that I was a man and that I could do it. (more…)
We are just six week away from the Africa Marked Men For Christ mission project and I wanted to send out a prayer email in preparation. It’s been quite a while since I’ve participated in an international project like this and only recently was reminded of my personal need for prayer support. So with that I’d like to invite you to lift up me and the other 46 men from the States who are headed to Nairobi in late April to minister to African men from Kenya and five other African nations.
For the logistics of the trip, I will be flying out of Houston on the 23rd 10:45a and arrive in Nairobi on Sunday night, the 24th at 6p. My return flights will begin on Sunday, May 1st at 11:25p and landing in Houston on Monday at 2:45p. The exact event timing will be from Tuesday through Thursday with prep on Monday and follow up training on Friday. My particular role will be to lead one of the four prayer teams during the three day event.
The stakes are high and the need is huge for leadership development of men in these nations. The goal is that these men will be able to return to their home stronger ambassadors for Christ in their neighborhoods, cities, and countries. Maybe eventually to the nations.
I want to thank you who have already begun to pray for this ministry and for the financial support of many of you. Specifically, I am asking that you write the trip dates down on a good calendar as a reminder to lift us up daily during that season. The chances are good that I will have email access during the evenings so that I will be able to make on the ground reports.
For prayer, please lift up:
-Safe travel for the African men going to and from Nairobi.
-Safe travel for the American and European men.
-Safety would be both from danger and sickness.
-Protection from Satanic, political, and physical distractions.
-Open hearts of the African men.
-Wisdom for myself and the other leaders.
-Protection for Debi and the girls while I am gone.
-Anything else that the Holy Spirit might lay on your heart.
Thank you again and please let me know if you have any questions.
PS If you’d like to be included in the update email list just shoot me a note.
I have probably been studying God’s design for manhood for well over 20 years now. The first real pick at the subject came during my college years when Todd Owen and I set upon the gospels to learn what we could from the man Jesus Christ. While Jesus is divine, God in the flesh, he was also perfect in his manhood. The text tells us that he got angry with the religious Pharisees, wept over the death of a friend, and got tired after a long day’s work. The author of Hebrews lets us into the secret that Jesus was tempted in every way possible to man yet was without sin. Jesus was fully man just as well fully divine. Therefore we can learn a thing or two about manhood from him.
In addition to attempting to follow Christ I’ve read a number of books over the years along with taking in various conferences and men’s ministry participation. (more…)
That’s right! Sunday Night Discussions is coming back. SND is a live webcast for tough questions and honest discussion about God, life, and the world we share. This Sunday at 8p Central we’re kicking off another season with our special guest, Michael Cusick. Michael is a counselor, ministry leader, author, and founder of Restoring The Soul Ministries in Denver, CO.
For the Discussions this week, Michael will be talking with us about the issues of a man’s soul and the connection to the estimated 68 million searches for pornography every day. While the questions may be many, the answers are found at a much deeper level than mere willpower. The lines between this problem, God, and our soul is more profound than you might think. In Michael’s book, Surfing For God, he quotes the 20th century theologian, G.K. Chesterton who observed that “Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is knocking for God.”
So start making plans now to catch the show and feel free to participate. The program will be aired through Google +. If you are viewing through that medium on the SND page you can send in questions during the show. We will also embed the link here Sunday Night so that you can also submit questions or observations in the comment section. In addition, we will also be giving away a copy of Michael’s book to someone in the viewing audience at the conclusion of the show.
So grab a friend and come hang out with us Sunday at 8p central as the Discussions begin.
PS For all the “Walking Dead” fans out there looking forward to that season kick off; just set the tech up to record the show as you won’t want to miss our live discussion.
See you soon.
Where did the weakness come from? Many sociologists will point to a turbulence in time which we know as the 1960s in America. With free sex came fractured families which lead to countless boys growing up without a dad to lead the way. While such statistical data is something to consider, the real root resides much further back in history. The real problem goes all the way back to our first father, Adam, and his forgetting who he was.
What we find in the ancient order of things before sin entered the picture is that Adam was strong. God created Adam to actually rule over creation, to tend the garden and creatively name the animals and even his own wife, Eve. Imagine; all of God’s creation was set down in front of Adam to govern. In short, Adam was created strong. The problem arose when for whatever reason, Adam lost sight of his heart and gave up his strength as Eve slipped into the grasp of the evil one. Adam did nothing. Eve and humanity suffered. Adam forgot who he was. The result was more than his personal anti-mission, but total brokenness within himself, with his wife, and ultimately with God.
But thank God the historical narrative didn’t end there. This past Christmas we were reminded that God stepped into history and made a way for things to be different. Jesus Christ came to bring life and restore our hearts. Jesus Christ came to restore our strength. Yes, we deal with brokenness and the brave man acknowledges that. But yet, when we come to Christ and walk daily with him we can see that God is truly in the restoration business. While we will never experience perfection this side of eternity, we can get a glimpse of what God had in store for us in the life of Adam as he was meant to be. God made Adam strong so that he might bring strength to the world. God made you strong so that you might strengthen others.
So as we get ready to enter the second month of 2015 what can you do to strengthen those around you? Could you be more present for your wife and children? Could you be more supportive of your local church family and its leadership? Could you reengage with some other guys in your life as a band of brothers?
Whatever it might be, the fact is that our strength starved world is waiting for you to push toward the chaos and make a positive change. Yes, they’re waiting for you.
Concluding in the words of Paul; “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage, be strong. Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14.