Rallying Cries

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith,
act like men, be strong—1 Corinthians 16:13

When we men gather, our gatherings should be about something. Without a something, brotherhood doesn’t last. There are, of course, plenty of possible such somethings: we gather to watch sports, play sports, talk sports, talk politics, discuss philosophy, drink coffee, drink wine, drink beer, hunt, fish, golf, bike, hike, and many other things. Some of us, though, believe there’s one something that stands well above the rest—a great cause—to follow our King, Jesus Christ, which includes fighting for ourselves, our loved ones, our friends, our neighbors, and engaging an enemy that “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

It’s an honor that we’ve been called to such a cause. But, just as men are apt to allow their attention to drift and to lose focus over time, so are groups of men. We must, therefore, be intentional about maintaining purpose, about maintaining alignment with one another, and about maintaining morale and increasing mettle toward opposition and hardship. One approach is to borrow an ancient technique: the rallying cry. It requires we simply consecrate, and then adopt, a few well-chosen words that capture what we stand for, words that reflect our agreed upon priorities, and that rally us always back to God’s (and now our) great cause.
Okay, so what do we do?

Decide today what you and your brothers are about . . . decide your something. Ask yourselves, what brought us together? What’s our purpose in being together? What are our priorities toward one another? What do we care about? What makes us unique? If you’ve never thought about these things, now’s the time, brother. Keep it fun. Set aside some time to pray together and to listen. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. Then collaborate and iterate and formulate your group’s rallying cry.

One Word to Start Over

. . . for by your words you will be justified,
and by your words you will be condemned—Matthew 12:37

Men sin. We all do. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Fortunately, it’s not our sin that keeps us from God’s forgiveness. It’s our unwillingness to recognize it, to deal with it, which does that. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We must, therefore, confess . . . and regularly.

That is easier to say, of course, than to live. Confession is hard. Giving voice to words describing our sin is hard. We often think that just saying them, naming our sin, will somehow make it more real. We think naming our sin will put more of its taint upon us. Brother, it’s real. Its full taint is upon us already. And there’s no path to forgiveness and taint removal, except first through confession. But it’s not actually confession if we never say the words—if we obfuscate or talk around the sin. Naming it, simply and plainly, pulls it up and out of the tangle of denial and confusion. It places our sin in the open, where we can see it, where we can paint a target on it, where we can finally bring the power of the Holy Spirit and community against it.

Okay, so what do we do?

Reduce your struggle with sin to one word: Pride. Self-centeredness. Hard-heartedness. Indifference. Resentment. Rage. Greed. Dishonesty. Lust. You choose your word. Be honest. Once you have it, say it aloud. Gather some brothers. Pray for courage, then go around, each man saying only their one word. Pray again, this time againstthe words spoken. When the time is right, go deeper and explain the meanings behind the words.

Trust No One

 

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts—Psalm 28:7

The Apostle Paul set a challenge before us: “having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor” (Ephesians 4:25). No small thing, that one. We men have such a hard time with transparency, with vulnerability. “I don’t know you guys that well.” “I have a hard time trusting other people.” “I don’t know everyone here.” These and objections like them surface naturally in men facing the prospect of being transparent and vulnerable with brothers in community. We’ve all said them, in some version or another. But, this approach, of hesitating and waiting to open up, waiting to tell our brothers what’s really going on, what we’re afraid of, what we’re struggling with, until we have complete trust of the men we’re opening up to, is foolish and based upon misplaced trust.

You see, we can trust no man completely. All “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). So, waiting for complete trust means waiting for something that’ll never happen. We’re all broken, capable of wickedness even toward those we love most. God, however . . . God is not. So, in him and in him only, brother, should we put our trust (Psalm 118:8). He calls us to be transparent, vulnerable with others, so we must. Now, it might not always go well (at least from our perspectives). That’s okay. It’ll go well from God’s perspective—our obedience to him always does. And, he knows better than we.

Okay, so what do we do?

Next time you meet with a brother or two or three, look around. Which of them do you trust more than God? In that moment, tell yourself: “I trust God. So, I know what I must do” No more lies. No more pretending. No more posturing.

Emerging from Isolation

 

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them—Matthew 18:20

Imagine, for a moment, a man ever isolated, living alone in the mountains, perhaps. Imagine him living a vigorous, adventurous, spiritual life, but lacking community. The knowledge this man would have of God, the knowledge he’d have of himself, would be modest compared to the knowledge he’d have of both, were he to have full access to relationships, friendships, brotherhood.

You see, the isolated man may know about God. But, no matter how much he might read and study, he cannot know God. That takes community. We get to know God by seeing his Holy Spirit moving in others. We encounter God, we experience him, we understand him when he works through the love and sacrifice of other people. In brotherhood, we get to show God to one another. And, the more we’re in community with brothers, the deeper our understanding becomes.

The isolated man may also know about himself—his talents, his likes, his dislikes. But, he cannot know himself. He cannot know the man God intends him to become. That too takes community. It takes others around him, who know his story, who spend time with him, who watch him, to discern and affirm and call forth things true and eternal in him, things God longs for to emerge. It takes brotherhood to call forth the true man.

Okay, so what do we do?

Though we live in cities and towns, many of us are yet like the man isolated in the mountains. We know about God, but we don’t knowhim. We know the men we’d like to be, but we don’t know the men he created us to be. This message, right now, is another call for brotherhood. It’s a call for you, brother, to get into community with other men. Find some brothers; find your place.

Words of Honor

 

Outdo one another in showing honor—Romans 12:10
To honor someone is to build them up, to give them a sense of their worth. Prevailing culture teaches us our worth is weighed by worldly measures. And so, “honoring” becomes hero worship—elevating those good at projecting worldly success and marginalizing those of us with flawed lives, with failures in our past, or who are simply unable or unwilling to devote enough effort to convincing the world of our success. This type of “honoring” is not what God intends. We lead each other astray when we engage in it, because the focus is so wrong.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).

To honor someone as God intends is to build them up and give them a sense of their true worth. It’s trying to see them as God sees them. It’s pushing right through the confusion of worldly measures—successes, failures, talents, faults, wealth, poverty, titles, appearances—looking for evidence of what God has done in and through them, and what he’s doing currently. And, finally, most importantly, it’s telling them what we see. Our edifying, encouraging words to one another are gifts from God. He allows us to give them to one another . . . and we must.
Okay, so what do we do?

Ask God to help you see those around you as he sees them. Look for how he’s working in and through them. And . . . then . . . tell . . . them. Tell them what you see. We men tend to struggle with the telling. We can be married for years, or in community with other men for years, and never simply tell those closest to us what we see in them. So, pick someone this week and tell them what you see. Honor them with a glimpse of his/her true worth.

If these words impacted you today, send them on!

Gotta Get Humble

I got this from a Daily Devotional that I read.

It is called WiRE. Check it out….Not signed up for WiRE? Get started todaytwice-a-week, totally free.

. . . count others more significant
than yourselves—Philippians 2:3

Let’s first get straight on what “getting humble” is not. It’s not trying to think poorly of ourselves or denigrating ourselves or anything like that. It actually involves taking the focus off ourselves. Getting humble is checking our tendency to think ourselves better than others, or more important, valuable, worthy of time or mind share or respect. Getting humble is shutting down our tendency to “size people up” and position them on some scale—based on money, title, education, geography, whatever. Getting humble is recognizing all people as the careful works of God, equally worthy of love and sacrifice.

Getting humble is counterintuitive, and it moves against prevailing culture. You see, we men want to feel successful, important—and have others consider us so. Culture trains us, therefore, to promote ourselves; to be strategic with our time and attention; to let positions determine our treatment of others. This training is foolish. It misses the sense and strength of humbleness.

Imagine someone humble. They’re often fearless, able to act on convictions, rather than trying to impress. Their decision-making is often sound, unclouded by insecurity or prejudice. They listen and welcome honest differences. They abide critics, crushed not by their criticism. They’re often magnetic, treating all people with respect. They engender loyalty, camaraderie. King Solomon wrote, “with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). We want to work with humble people. We want to work for them and have them work for us. We want them as spouses, friends. But, mostly, we should want to get humble ourselves.

Okay, so what do we do?

Practice getting humble. Choose something this week: initiate a conversation and listen more than you talk; serve in a way that’s mundane or difficult (unpleasant, even); help someone anonymously; give someone the credit they deserve (even if you deserve some too).

 

Teaching Manhood and Continuing to watch and Learn from your Mentors

Manhood in the male community seems to be for sale right now. I say that because of the way a lot of our traditions have been modified to create an accepting policy for just any male “Any Male” no matter the belief system. Myself I have a few true men that I really look up to and listen to and respond accordingly to. I try to make sure that my son’s utilize those same principles. Young men today need to be taught I guess how to speak, I think.

The news has it really messed up trying to relate to that is not realistic.

Television would have the general people who get their news from them “NEWS outlets” believing that what has been reported is just how it is in the world. Those are sounds bytes from a small population of this country. Dads, and other men who have younger guys that look up to them need to always create that safe place for the younger men-tee to be able to speak up. Words have power and if young men won’t use them then their power is being taken from them, every minute they stay quiet or choose to allow violence be their voice.

Too long but I think I addressed what I needed to.

Manhood in America

There seems to be a lack of manhood in America today in not just the black community but in other ethnicities as well. If you are a man and you see a young one struggling to get to his feet, reach out to him and help if allowed.

Some of these young men out here have no idea what it means to be a man. I have 4 sons and I strive everyday to be an example for them and my daughters guy friends. If they need a nugget of inspiration I try to provide it for them. If each of did this for a young man near us; I believe that the little ones now without fathers would begin to heal.

No woman can teach a man to be a man. Mom can support him, but she can’t teach what she doesn’t know. He will have to see what that looks like to become that.

The Movies

Movies, like most; I love watching them I really do. Something I have noticed over the years of watching movies is that; the writer creates this story where a single person can be super human and save humanity all by himself. There is just him/her and the regular people left, any that don’t stand for what the hero does has a real problem because no one can match him/her. Fiction that is what movies are made of.

There are actual people that reach a few of their goals and even amass large amounts of wealth. There are however no superhumans among us. The only perfect person that I have ever heard of is Christ. Yet in his story he took beating after beating for us. He saved the day by dying. Fiction is feel good to our our mortal minds and bodies. Fiction allows us to dream of and imagine. Some who believe the movies may have thoughts of if only I can inject myself with something that can give me superhuman strength(drugs), if only I could fly from the top of this building(suicide), if I can beat anyone at anything in competition(pride). We can’t be the same type of hero we see in the movies. That is fiction, we can be a strong light to other men that may have doubts. To give an uplifting word to a father that may be struggling or down at the moment or even reach back and help if we can.

My thoughts haven’t ever been on anything mind altering; I did have a lot of pride in sport or in developing in the computer world though, in conquering anyone who challenged me on the court or marveling at the creations I am able to make. I thought it was me that had this special ability to play at a higher level than most. Make these grand sites and networks and databases. It wasn’t it is God inside me that allowed me those abilities. I have started my walk with Christ and even though it is not ever easy it is worth it to me. I can’t believe in those movies anymore as I did when I was kid. I am now a man that has his own children and family to guide and protect. I have to believe in the one I know can help me. A super hero can’t save me but God can.

We don’t have anything to lose when we turn ourselves over to Christ and everything to gain. You can still be the same person, a better person because instead of tearing down your wife you now build her up. You help her instead of allowing her to do everything for you and your children. Instead of screaming at your son you speak to him. Instead of drinking a fifth of alcohol or an entire six-pack of beer you maybe have a drink or two a week. It can all happen for you, it really can. I don’t have the answers you need I only started to walk with him myself. Together though we can get the answers we all are seeking and help as many people as we can before its our time.

Thanks for reading, till next post this has been

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The Friend Everyone Longs For

Devotional

The Friend Everyone Longs For

We all have a mental picture of the kind of friends we want to have in our lives. We want friends who will be supportive. Who will stick with us when life is tough. Who will encourage us and not tear us down. Who will not judge us. But today we’re going to flip this around. We are going to consider how we can become the kind of friend for others that we want to have.

Life always begins with becoming rather than finding. Dating is not about finding the right person for your life. Marriage is not about finding the perfect man or woman. No, it’s about becoming the person God wants you to be. In this way, whether you do date and get married… or you don’t… you still win, because you are becoming the person that God wants you to be.

So, with this in mind, we need to look at what it takes to be the kind of friend we want to have in our lives. First, we need to be a friend who is sincere and not phony. A friend with no hidden agendas. A friend who isn’t hypocritical or two-faced. A friend who doesn’t just tell others what they want to hear but speaks the truth.

Second, we need to be a friend who extinguishes evil and celebrates good. We do this by de-escalting conflict insteading of fanning the flames of conflict. We speak the truth as we extend mercy and forgiveness, just like Jesus did for us. While we do not turn a blind eye to the truth, we assume the best of people and are ready to humbly work to restore relationships without thought of personal gain.

Third, we need to be a friend who is open-handed with our resources. We share and actively meet needs.

Fourth, we need to be a friend who rises above the situation. We don’t have to show up to every fight in which we are invited to participate. We can choose to politely withdraw from conflict. To do the unexpected by blessing those who curse us. There is freedom in not having to get even. As we follow God’s purpose and leave it to him to deal with those who curse us, we honor the size of our God and trust he will take care of everything in the very best way.

Fifth, we need to be a friend who moves freely among all people. We all want the friend who says, “I can float with the up-and-ups and the down-and-outs. I can float with the high-and-mighty and be just as happy with those in lower states.” A true friend is there in all circumstances, whether we are at the top or the bottom. The gospel doesn’t treat people differently, and neither should we.

Sixth, we need to be a friend who is a peacemaker. We need to recognize that while we don’t have the power to change others, we can change ourselves. We may not be able to have peace with another person in our lives, but we can have peace toward that person. And if we are at peace with that person, then we are reflecting the gospel. We are living free.

So, today try to be the friend you want to have. By doing so, you will find friends who will recognize the power of the gospel in your life and be drawn closer to God.

Respond

How would you describe the bulk of the friendships that you have had? What do you look for in a friend?

What is the difference between finding a friend and being a friend? What do you find is the most challenging part about being a friend?

If God could do one thing in your life to empower you to “live at peace with everyone,” what would you want it to be?