Archives For encouraging men

Divorced and Christian.

Divorce hurts. Almost everyone reading this has been affected by divorce.  You know the pain, it fades but can leave a raw nerve that heals slowly. Although God hates divorce He loves people and He is in the healing business.

The church is not immune from divorce. About 50% of 1st marriages in the US end in divorce but Focus on the Family reports that couples who “…generally take their faith seriously…”, (that means work at it) have about a 38% divorce rate.  I have seen figures that say the divorce rate is the same or higher inside the church as outside but there is a difference between people who call themselves Christians and people who take their faith seriously. (Read the article)

My parents divorced after 18 years and I went through divorce myself after 9 years of marriage. I have since remarried, am working on my 19th year of marriage and incredibly blessed with a great wife who I have 4 children with. However, the years I lost with my first two sons are gone. While our relationship today is very good we went through some difficult times as I struggled with my responsibilities to my sons vs my responsibilities to my new, growing family.

I know the pain of seeing my sons under another man’s care. Seeing my sons living in a situation that I didn’t approve of broke my heart. Hearing about them being spanked by their mother’s boyfriend enraged me. Listening to them call me out on my own poor decisions was humbling, convicting and heart breaking.

Many of you know what it is like to have your young children living under a roof besides your own. You know the difficulty trying to parent children who live under two sets of rules. You live with the split time on holidays and the animosity as you or her explore new relationships. The lingering hurt feelings often make it difficult to sort out issues that seem like they should be more easily managed. Divorce sucks and, like other scenarios, we seldom see the end results in the beginning of the process.

We all make mistakes in our lives but it is the mistakes that hurt other people, especially our kids, which hurt the worst. The good news is that God’s mercies are new every day and every moment of our lives is a new chance to start over. I love the saying, “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”  The moment we turn to God asking for help, the process of healing and restoration starts. The visible results of that process, especially in other people, often take longer than we think they should.

I have a friend who continuously wishes his ex-wife would act more reasonably. His sentiments are no doubt shared by most men and women in similar situations. My feedback to him is always the same, “Stop worrying about her, focus on what you need to do.” Taking care of what we need to do, pressing into God, deepening that relationship, leading by example and “taking care of the plank in our own eye before worrying about the speck” in someone else’s is the only way we can move forward.

Regardless of our current circumstances, as we commit to developing our relationship with God, we can live out a model for our children to emulate. If, by our actions, we can show them a life worth living maybe they don’t have to make some of the same mistakes we made. I don’t want my children to be spared the challenges that result in growth but I pray that each of them avoids the pain of divorce.  I am committed to living for Him and showing my children the beauty of a life and a marriage that is Christ centered. Please God, help me walk that out.

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Brothers

When I first got saved I had a lot of deep questions like, “Who am I going to hang out with?” It was quickly apparent that most of my friends weren’t immediately interested in the same commitment I had just made and I was sure the church was not filled with men I’d be able to relate to.

Turns out the church is filled with men who are also working on developing a closer relationship with God. Men working through their own issues but heading in one direction.  Like any group there are naturally people we are more inclined to gravitate toward on a personal level. Regardless of how I might feel about the personalities of other men in church, I do share something with most of them; we are committed to developing a closer, biblical, relationship with God. This is like the trump card that covers everything else.

My faith is in Christ, not my friends but I need my close friends to help me walk out my faith.  I appreciate their encouragement. I appreciate that they check in with me through the week and see how I am. I am grateful that there is someone out there taking my name to the God in prayer. I am grateful that some ask me the hard questions and I am committed to being honest with them. I am not friends with every man in my church. However, I could develop a close relationship with any man in my church that has a sincere desire to follow Christ. Not only that, but I need those kind of friendships and so does he.

When we find ourselves, alone, isolated and answering to no one, we are in danger. This is another example of God’s way being different than man’s way. The world often portrays the self-made, pull yourself up the bootstraps man as the ultimate man; going it alone and ultimately alone and victorious on a mountaintop. The heroes of the Bible are humble, rely on God’s strength, God’s wisdom and they have strong relationships with other godly men.

In Mark 6 Jesus sends out the 12 in pairs of two. In Luke 10 Jesus sends out 72 men in pairs. The apostles often traveled in pairs and we see them relying on one another throughout the New Testament. Moses had Aaron. When David was home alone, not surrounded by other men, he didn’t do so well.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” James tells us, “…confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Proverbs is full of advice about Godly friendships including, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” 27:17, “A righteous man is cautious in friendship” 12:26, and “A friend loves at all times…”17:17.

There are also many cautions about who we are friends with and who we spend our time around. While Jesus is commonly known as a “friend of sinners” it is because he knew they needed salvation. He said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick.”

One of my pastors was recently explaining how our church is a welcoming, diverse place. To look around our congregation you would see the homeless, the affluent and everyone in between. The intent is that the church is open to those seeking and welcomes people who are looking for answers. We welcome the hurt and broken who are looking for something and they don’t even know what it is except relief from their pain and confusion. The answer is the peace, love and warm embrace of a loving Father. Jesus meets seeking people with love in their time of need and then calls them into relationship and discipleship. Our relationships should reflect the same thing.

Jesus spent considerable time alone with God. He invested Himself in relationships with people that were trying to grow. He had little time for the religious, self-righteous, condescending “haters” of the day. He was open to all but loved them too much to leave them as He found them.  He was the influencer, not the influenced. He was the salt, He seasoned His surroundings and encourages us in the same endeavor.

Christ is our model in all things and His relationships are no exception.  Men, to grow in our faith, lead our families and finish this race strong we must have close relationships with a few Godly men. The place to find those men is in church. To instigate and develop those relationships may require leaving our comfort zone and it will require time and effort. The cost of not developing these relationships is stagnancy or failure. The benefits are strong relationships with true brothers.

 

That Guy Over There Paid For It

“If you are driving down the street and notice a sexy woman, that is not sin. If you circle the block to get another look at her it is.” A mature Christian man shared this with me 20 years ago and helped me to understand what sin is.

There is a lot of temptation out there, being exposed to it does not constitute sin.  When we ponder it, mull it over, fantasize about it and engage in it we have crossed the line. This can apply to sexual temptation or the desire to lob hand grenades at drivers on the freeway.

We have many chances to consider such things. The battlefield is in the mind first. I have often had imaginary arguments in my mind as I consider how I will tell someone off. I actually create a problem that may not even be there or I might feed a tiny thing and make it giant. This could be the enemy offering me a spirit of offence, or lust or fear. I can choose not to accept or I can snatch it up and run with it, feed it, obsess over it, run through it in my mind. It becomes like Gollum’s “precious” thing.

In Matthew 5:28 Jesus said, “…anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Now that’s harsh. It also then stands to reason that if I’ve given my boss a mighty Chuck Norris blow to the solar plexus (in my mind) then I’ve crossed the line. Seriously? How can anyone live up to those standards?

None of us can live up to those standards, this is where Jesus comes in. To be perfectly holy is not within us. If we are saved, we are a new man but we still live in the flesh. The apostle Paul said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”(Romans 7:15) He further explains, “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. That a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Spend a few minutes with Romans 7:7-25)

This is not your average knucklehead struggling with this, Paul wrote most of the New Testament. He is a rock star of the Bible. Elsewhere Paul asked God to remove a problem he was struggling with; God said no, “My grace is sufficient.”

Brothers, if you are already a Christian, there is no better news than this. He knows we are not perfect and our sin has been paid for. “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” (Romans 6:1,2) That would not reflect being a man after God’s own heart. God knows our motivation, our heart. He may be the only one who this matters to, but there is no one more important.

The cross was God’s grace to us and it is sufficient. When Jesus died on the cross all our sin was in the future, yet it was all covered. Our sin, all of it, is covered by the blood. If we have accepted Christ we are in right standing with God, justified, righteous, He and we are good. Thank you Jesus. As we move forward our part is to confess our sin and keep our eyes on Him, keep our focus in the right place, “abide in the vine”.  As we falter, and we do, confess, repent, move forward. Repeat as necessary.  Don’t carry the weight. Don’t beat yourself up. Confess, repent, move forward. Provision has been made for our infinite shortcomings. That’s good news.

A Man Among Men

A month ago my close friend, my father in law, passed away as I knelt next to him telling him I loved him and praying for him. His wife of 45 years, Paula, was right there confessing her love for her husband, praying and proclaiming her trust in Jesus. Amidst the chaos, her repeated confession of , “We trust you Jesus” was one of the greatest acts of faith I have ever seen.  As heart wrenching as that was, and is still, I will be forever grateful that I could be there at that moment.

Jack Himschoot was a man among men. When I asked him for his daughter’s hand in marriage he told me that if I ever laid a hand on her he might not be able to whip me but he was coming with a gun. He meant it. He was the very definition of a “Florida Cracker”, he often wore an 18 inch sheathed knife to church, ran an airboat, could build a swamp buggy and handle a bullwhip a gun and a backhoe. He taught me how to operate an airboat, catch, clean and gig fish and showed me how to catch gators. He showed about any kid that he ever came in contact with how to make a bullwhip, make a bow and arrow out of palm leaves and shoot a potato gun.

Most of all Jack was a Christian. I was honored to be able to speak at his memorial service and as a tribute to him, wanted to share those sentiments here:

Today I have three great passions in my life and Jack was instrumental in the development of each of them. 

The # 3 thing on that list, is Fishing. I didn’t grow up fishing and didn’t care anything about it. About 15 years ago Jack came to visit us in Tennessee where we lived on a small, river. When he got there he went straight to WalMart and bought a fishing pole. He and I roamed the banks of the Harpeth River, him fishing, me watching with absolutely no interest in actually fishing myself. When he went back to Florida he left that pole in my garage and that fishing pole sat there for several months.  One day I blew the dust off that thing and took it down to the river. I cast it out and immediately got into some Small Mouth Bass and the hook was firmly set in me. I was radically addicted. He later taught me to catch Redfish, drive an airboat and was the motivating factor in pursuing my Captain’s License and starting a charter business.  

As a result of Jack’s influence my Dad and my brother are both now radically addicted to fishing although, of course, I catch more and bigger fish than they do. We continue Jack’s fishing evangelism and are working on passing that passion on to my children. Every minute I have spent enjoying time on the water, the fellowship of Ben (his son). my own father, brother and children, is because of Jack and I am grateful.  

The #2 great passion in my life is my family. Obviously if it wasn’t for Jack & Paula, there would be no me & Jacquelyn, no Kaitlyn, no Logan Jack Britt, no Cyan and no Jack Vaughn Britt. Yes, we named half of our children after Jack.  

Also, he set a high bar as a husband to Paula that Jacquelyn grew up watching. It isn’t easy living up to that expectation and mostly I fail. I am grateful for Jack and Paula and the family they have enabled me to have and for receiving me into their family. 

The # 1 passion in my life is my relationship with God. As a brand new Christian I watched Jack and his walk with Christ. Jack was a man’s man who loved the Lord and devoted time to nurturing his relationship with God.  

That model, an imperfect, humble man living for Christ, has had a significant impact on my life. The very fact that he was imperfect yet continued to press in and work on his relationship with God is the very thing that speaks the loudest to me. It reassured me that I didn’t have to be perfect to be a Christian. Anyone that knows me well, well knows, how flawed I am.  Jack helped me realize that accepting God’s love and asking Jesus to come into my life wasn’t about me being some holier than thou Christian…….it was just about receiving God love, spending time developing my own relationship with God. A natural byproduct of developing my relationship with God is that I am more committed to my family, and those people around me, and less interested, or becoming less interested in chasing after the things that I want, or think I want.

Jack lived his life that way. He walked that example out in front us. He was imperfect but he loved God with his whole heart and he loved those around him as he loved himself. He gave of himself, probably to everyone here and certainly, to many more who are not here.    

Moving forward, I feel challenged. Pastor Tommy was sharing yesterday, he said its not about trying harder, its about drawing a line in the sand, about going all in and being committed to what’s important. Jack Himschoot, imperfect and flawed, was committed to what’s important. Today, in front of my family, my Pastor and men in here that are important to me, I commit to follow Jack as he followed Christ and commit myself to what’s important. I challenge these people to hold me accountable.  

I ask all of you here today to consider Jacks’ example. Consider what is truly important. Reflect on what these men said here today and consider what it means to you personally. This isn’t about religion…or the church…or churchy things. Its about us, its about our relationship with who created us and our relationship with each other. I pray… that moving forward from …right now …we would all consider those things.

My father in law had a great impact on my life and continues to do so. Men, we will impact other people’s lives, it is up to us how. Will our lives be a benefit to those around us or will our example lead others to loss and destruction. It is up to us and the time to get a hold of that is right now. If we will pattern our lives after Christ’s life and develop a relationship with Him we will impact our families and those around us for generations. If we stumble through life relying on our own plan we are rolling the dice and the cost of losing is astronomical.

Jesus referred to himself  as “The Son of Man” dozens of times. He is the very definition of “Man”. Do you believe Him or do you believe some other model of manhood that Hollywood has shown you?

 

How I Fixed My Wife

There are some things that God reveals in His word that don’t make sense to me at first. Turning the other cheek is an example. Another example is reaping and sowing. We can commonly relate this to farming and I understand the principle there. However, it is a principle that applies to other areas. Giving is an example. Another example is our wives.

Ephesians 5:25-28 tells us to love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.  After we do that we will receive her back to us as Christ will receive his perfect bride.

  1. Give yourselves up for her. Sacrifice.
  2. Receive her back to you, perfected.

When I first heard this it was like a light bulb came on. “Sounds great!” Turns out,  actually sacrificing for my wife was harder than I thought. As a matter of fact, it was about 10 years from the day the light bulb came on until I finally got serious about it. It was easier for me to justify my own behavior than sacrifice or, “give myself up” for my wife.

Staying in the comfortable rut of our relationships can seem like the path of least resistance. We gradually put up with more and more until one day we look at where we are and wonder how we got here. It seems like there’s no way we can fix the mess we are in and divorce is the only answer. I’ve been through divorce and it sucks. No mas.

Sacrifice hurts. If it doesn’t cost you then it’s not sacrifice. Happily doing things for my wife that I don’t want to do is part of my sacrifice. Not holding it over her head is another part. Forgiving her is a sacrifice. I try to be the one who apologizes first. I have also made it a point to understand exactly what she wants and I try to provide that. (For this, I strongly recommend the book The 5 Love Languages). I am committed to sexual purity. Praying for my wife is another sacrifice. I gave up alcohol. I make few decisions without asking her opinion. For me, these are sacrifices and I willingly make them for her.

I fail in my commitments often. I indulge in selfishness and avoid the sacrifices I know I should be making. When I get off track like that I repent and try to get headed back in the right direction.

Really, it’s not about fixing her, it is about fixing me. I’ve got a giant plank in my eye and that thing deserves all of my attention before I worry about the speck in her eye. Fixing her was never the answer, working on me is the answer. God told me what to do, I am working on it and our marriage is better because of it. Big surprise.

You want to fix your wife? Give yourself up, sacrifice. Listen to what God recommends and commit. If you start to do it and it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t seem fair then you are on the right track!

The Church Is Full Of Hypocrites

“Church is full of hypocrites.”  “When I go to church I feel judged.” “The views of the church are outdated.” “Church is boring…” I just read that these are the primary reasons why people don’t go to church. Since I have spent most of my life outside of the church I can relate to these sentiments. However, from my 20 year perspective within the church I also see another side of things.

Church is full of hypocrites. The church is a place of healing, hope and love. My pastor recently made a point that I had never considered before (this happens often). He said few people come to Christ at the top of their game, almost all of us come in need and we bring a mess with us. We come broken and looking for hope. We should find hope and encouragement within the church.

Since the church is full of people it is not perfect. Despite the fact that many of us are actively trying to live a life that is honoring to God every single one of us falls short. The ability to humbly receive His grace and forgiveness and move forward is a sign of a maturing Christian. The willingness to reach out to love others, despite of, or because of, our inherent weakness is the true measure of Christ within us. We are hypocrites if we deny our weakness while casting stones at others for theirs. This is not a reflection of God’s love.

When I go to church I feel judged. God has an amazing plan for each of our lives. It is a plan of prosperity and fulfillment. Like an athlete in training, there are things we can do to help us along that path and there are things we can do that are detrimental to that path. One of the ways we know what might not be beneficial for us is the conviction we feel about that thing when confronted with it.

God uses the feeling of conviction to show us where we are falling short. The sole purpose of conviction is to bring about change for the better. I have sat in church many times feeling convicted about things I have done or left undone. God does not bring shame, He does not beat us down with the weight of our sins. He sent Jesus to bear our sins that we could be free of shame and self-loathing. We may feel conviction, not judgment, as we sit church but that is simply a gentle call to a fuller life by a loving Father.

The views of the church are outdated. Recently a popular celebrity has been condemned for expressing his Biblical views on homosexuality. I have read that those views are outdated and do not take into consideration today’s enlightened thinking and our newfound sensitivity. It can be unpopular to express Biblical viewpoints. People might get offended. This man was fired from his job.

Some may view the word of God as outdated but His word does not change. It does not take into account what is trending today. It is the same yesterday today and forever.  It is absolute and it is relevant today.

We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. We do so daily, all of us. God does not call us to sit in judgment of the world. He calls us to be faithful, to love others as we love ourselves, to deal with the plank in our own eye before we concern ourselves with the splinter in our brother’s. While we were ALL sinners Christ died for us and He calls us to love others as He loves us. Love isn’t a feeling, it’s a verb, an action word, something we do.

God’s word is timeless, not subject to trends, it doesn’t go out of style. His message is love and reconciliation. Let’s make sure that when we publically express it we do it in a spirit of love otherwise we use His name in vain.

Church is boring.  Jesus’ church is not boring. If your church is boring you might want to start looking around. Church isn’t about entertainment but any place that the living, vibrant word of God is preached should be full of life. Our church should challenge, teach and help equip us. It should breathe life into our families and our communities.  The church should be helping to radically change lives, feed the hungry and give hope to the hopeless. None of this is boring.

Our worship should be heartfelt and passionate. The scripture is full of encouragement and examples of praising God in our worship. Jesus said the very stones would cry out if His disciples weren’t praising God. David danced with wreckless abandon before the Lord. Psalm 150 extols us to praise Him enthusiastically, praise Him according to HIS greatness. Psalms 95 says, “Make a joyful noise…” None of this sounds boring to me.

There is no doubt that some people’s motivation in praise is to draw attention to themselves. John 4 tells us that God seeks worshippers who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. It may be hard not to judge people’s motives as they worship but, for most of us, every moment we spend worrying about what others are doing during worship is a wasted moment. Worship can be a dynamic interaction with our Father and no one has ever walked away from real interaction with God yawning and bored.

If the church you go to isn’t what you think it should be then you can find another church or help change the climate of the church you are in. Just make sure what you are looking for is Biblical, yes, that means you have to read the Bible to see what is Biblical.

One last thing, don’t give up on church because you have been disappointed in church in the past. That dog won’t hunt. We didn’t give up on women after the first one (or several) didn’t work out. Back in the day I didn’t swear I’d never go to another bar because I didn’t like one I visited. God has something amazing for you and it is in church. What do you think?

Peace which passes all understanding

Heaven Seems Secondary 

 

I am not a Christian because of a promise of heaven. That has never been a motivating factor for me.  If I was so concerned about the (hopefully) distant future I would eat better, save money and generally have a more long term approach to life. I know there are plenty of people who live that way and I envy them.

 

I did not become a Christian because my sin was so overwhelming that I craved God’s forgiveness. As I have grown in my faith I have come to better understand this and I am incredibly grateful for God’s absolute forgiveness, my freedom from condemnation and the sacrifice it took to make that possible. I often thank Him for His amazing grace and pray that I never take it for granted.

 

I became a Christian in 1993 because I had been on a long search for something and I felt like God was revealing Himself to me over a period of time and in a number of small ways. Eventually it seemed like everywhere I looked there was God this and Jesus that. I didn’t, and still don’t, have all the answers but I know God has revealed Himself to me and I have turned my life over to Him. I believe the Bible is the Word of God even though it still holds many questions for me.

 

I think the primary thing that I received with my profession of faith that has kept me coming back and keeps me moving forward is His peace. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” The peace that “passes all understanding” sustains me on a daily, often moment by moment, basis.

 

Growing in faith will often come with a new understanding of what a word really means. Biblical “Peace” is an example of this, (“Love” is another example.) Jesus said, “…my peace I give you.”  Phillipians 4:7 says the peace of God “passes all understanding.”  That means that as we do our part, being, “…anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” God’s peace will “guard our heart.”

 

This is another one of those things that doesn’t make sense, it just is. As we rely on God and communicate with Him we can walk in His peace, peace that passes all understanding. What does that mean? It means we don’t have to carry the burdens we often carry. We don’t have to be anxious, fear or fret. Fear, as in being scared, anxious or worried, doesn’t come from God. He doesn’t want us carrying that and He shows us how to get out from under it.

 

The practical application of that process can be challenging and it takes practice and a growing faith. I recently stood over my dying father in law as my mother in law, his wife of 45 years, was saying “We trust you Lord.”  I took up her profession and it helped bring peace to a chaotic situation. We didn’t want to be in that situation but we were, God was not absent and despite incredible loss and nearly overwhelming heartache, His peace was there.

 

God’s peace does not necessarily mean an absence of surrounding turmoil, it means that within the situation, any situation, we can have peace. Although I almost always feel His peace when I need it, I try to remember that despite how I feel, God has not forsaken me. Jesus is called Emmanuel which means, “God with us”. Even Jesus, in his most trying moment, appears to have felt abandoned. It is, however, safe to say, that as Christ looks back on that moment, He sees His father with Him.

 

Jesus tells us that in this world we will have trouble but in Him we can have peace. Receiving and walking in that peace, for me, is the most powerful of His gifts to me. I may see it differently looking back from eternity but as I go through my days, each with trouble of its own, I am ever grateful for His peace.

I like the word “knucklehead”. It’s not too harsh but conveys a message. Sometimes it seems like I’m surrounded by knuckleheads. However, in those rare moments when I step back and take an objective look at myself I often shake my head and mutter, “Knucklehead”.

 

The church I go to celebrates “Ugly”. T-shirts, bumper stickers and books proclaim “I’m Ugly”, “My Church is Ugly”, “The Power of Ugly”.  It means, “Like you, I have real issues. I’m not pretending I’m perfect. I don’t have it all together. However, with God’s grace and with His direction, I’m working on it. You can too.”

 

Knucklehead or Ugly, the story is the same. We are (hopefully) a work in progress. If you don’t think you’re a knucklehead then you’ve probably never been married. A good woman will help you see yourself in a more realistic light (so will a dressing room mirror). Most of us know we could use a little tweeking, to put it mildy, and we periodically make efforts to change. These efforts are worth our time but we need to make sure we put 1st things 1st.

 

If we want the very best out of life there is nothing more important than a personal relationship with our Creator through Jesus Christ. Starting a relationship with God does not require us to change but developing a deeper relationship with God does bring about change. You cannot get to know Him better without realizing the need for some modifications in your life. Change is not a pre-requisite for a meaningful relationship with God but a natural by-product of it. Jack Nicholson once professed to a woman, “You make we want to be a better man.” Amen brother. Drawing close to God will make you want to be a better man and He will help you make it happen.

 

Here is the good news and bad news; This change, it takes place within you and it is a lifelong process. The other knuckleheads probably won’t change anytime soon. God wants you to be able to love them where they are like He loves you where you are. I thought a better plan might be for God to magically transform me and then work on everyone around me. Maybe not even in that order. Apparently not.

 

As it turns out, what other people do is not what is important, it’s how I deal with it that matters. Of course this is not revelation knowledge, I’m familiar with the concept. However, learning to take it on board and finding peace, His peace, in every situation can be a tough. It can be easy to justify our behavior when we consider what other people did to make that happen. Something I find myself saying more often is, “I’m not responsible for how they act, I’m responsible for how I act.”

 

I love the saying, “Sometimes God calms the storm, sometimes He calms the sailor.” Developing a close relationship with God does not mean that He changes the world around you. He will, however, change the world within you if you let Him. A natural by-product of your inner world changing is that the world around you slowly changes.

 

If the offences committed against you are governing forces in your life, you can be free of that. God does not want those things to rule you. Regardless of the severity of the offence, His peace can set you free. Have questions? Let me know.

A retired cop, a couple homeless guys, a Realtor, a chef, an old outlaw biker, a Florida Cracker, a 21 year old struggling with addiction and an autistic man. These are some of the guys that make up the men’s group at my church. They are God’s elite, a small group of special forces in my life that help keep me grounded and I am constantly learning from every man in our group.

Once a week we meet, drink coffee, read scripture and talk about how it applies to us in our daily lives. We lean on each other, challenge one another, console those in need, pray and provide encouragement. We also each commit to pray for one other guy and make contact through the week.

The first day I walked into the meeting and met some of those guys I thought, “This isn’t for me.” I was looking for a group of men who had it all together, they would immediately recognize my staggering potential, reach out, firmly grasp my hand, fix me with a steely gaze and say, “We’ve been waiting for you.” Instead what I found was a diverse group of normal guys just trying to follow God’s direction & be better men. It was exactly what I needed.

Our Creator has a plan for us and it is a better plan than we have for ourselves. That plan involves developing our relationship with God, leading our families, training our children and helping those around us. That plan also involves other men. We are stronger together and we are made to work together despite our tendency to want to go it alone. Jesus himself formed a small, inner group and the world still resonates with the efforts of those flawed men.

Most men do not make friends easily. In years past I forged friendships in bars around the world and through drunken experiences of which I have vague memories and numerous regrets. Today I am trying to forge friendships with other men who are interested in becoming better fathers, husbands & sons. I still love those guys from back in the day but now I want to build relationships that honor God and produce generational benefits for my family and those around me.

Inside a church near you there is a small group of men who are working through their commitment to a better way of life, a higher calling. They are not perfect, every day they struggle, fail, get back up and move forward. Those men need you and you need them.  If a structured group doesn’t exist you might be able to form one or find a church that has one. There are many resources available to bring focus to such a group. This webpage has several:

http://www.promisekeepers.org/programs/ambassadors/pk-ambassadors-resources

Are you looking for direction, partnership and encouragement? Do you have questions? Let me know.

For many years I charged through life without a care. “Be true to yourself” and “Look out for #1” were my guiding principles and Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” could have been my anthem. I was sure the example I was setting for my children would benefit them in the future. “I’m living my life and I am going to ride this thing until the wheels fall off. I encourage you to do the same.”

 

Today, I am 48, a father of 6, (2 marriages) and  trying to focus on being a better man. My priorities have changed and those around me benefit from that. I am still a knucklehead but maybe not quite the knucklehead I once was. I’m not a preacher, a pastor, or a motivational speaker (obviously). I’m a Dad, a husband, a son and a brother who wants something more. I am looking for other men, young and old, who are interested in the same thing. If you want more, even if you don’t even know what that looks like, maybe we can move forward together.

 

Want to hear something radical? Our creator has given us a User’s Manual and it is the Bible. Keep reading. Even without bringing Jesus & salvation into the picture, the principles put forth in the New Testament alone are a reasonable plan to live your life by. The Bible is to be taken as a whole. It would be unfair to the author of any work to pick and choose text and try to hang the theme upon that unless the author said, “It all boils down to this.” Turns out the Bible does say, “It all boils down to this…” Specifically, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Two things:

  1. Love God
  2. Love others 

We are all knuckleheads and hardly deserve the attention of our friends much less that of the Creator. Inexplicably, God desires a relationship with us. He has revealed Himself to you in His creation, in a breathtaking sunset and in the love you feel for your children. If you are opposed to wanting to learn more about who created you and why, I got nothing for you. Stop here and go back to whatever you were doing. I’m not interested arguing. If you have real questions about who God is and you want to learn more, stick around.

 

If you think loving your neighbor as yourself sounds unreasonable then you’re right. It is. I struggle with it all the time. Truthfully, I’m not sure how much I like most people and am pretty comfortable with the fact that that is a two way street. Apart from trying to allow God to work through me, and I’m not entirely sure how that works, I generally gravitate toward people who are similar to me, or more often, I just gravitate to me. I’m not saying it’s a good plan, its just the truth.

 

As I consider the world around me the call to be sold out to God and love others as myself can be a challenge. However, God is calling us to more. Nothing of value is ever easy. Life isn’t easy. What is ever accomplished without someone stepping out of their comfort zone and moving forward? God’s love and salvation are free. We can’t earn it and it is available to anyone who wants it. Just ask and it’s yours. Moving forward and developing a deep relationship with anyone, however, takes time and effort. It isn’t about religion or church. It is about a relationship with God and our relationship with each other. Men, we need God and we need each other. Surprisingly, God needs us. God uses people to accomplish His mission. God has chosen you for a mission that only you can do. You were born in this time and place, surrounded by the people who are around you, for a reason and you know it. God has given you abilities and talents and you can piss them away or use them for their intended purpose. What will it be? Do you feel like there is more to this thing?