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.
Many of you know that world evangelism and discipleship holds a huge place in my heart. While Deb and I continue to financially support foreign missionaries and projects, it has actually been over 10 years since I’ve been out of the country. Debi has served on a couple of teaching trips to Honduras over the past few years but I have not used my passport since teaching in Nagaland, India with Australian missionary, Doug Willis back in 2003.
That is all about to change in April as I have been asked to travel to Nakuru, Kenya to assist in an international Marked Men For Christ discipleship project. (more…)
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…)