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Our Father is working to take the death out of us, out of men, out of our sons and daughters, out of our wives, out of His children. He does it with kindness, He does it with fire and He does it as a loving Father. While God is doing this life-giving work, our enemy is doing all he can to betray us, to have us betray ourselves and those we love, and to make us think and believe we love death rather than life.

While we do them, we love our sins more than we love God; we prefer them at that moment more than we desire to be with Jesus. We might as well say to him, “Father, I know Jesus suffered and died to deliver me from this fatal attraction, but for the moment, right now, I want what I want and I care more about what I want than what you did on the cross to deliver me from my darkness.” Try saying that to God about the mess you’re in. He might appreciate that more than an apology when your guilt is driving you insane.

I was in my middle 20s, caught in loneliness and self-gratification, developing unhealthy habits and patterns of sin that easily could have destroyed my life. I knew it, hated it, but the lonely call of the wild on Friday nights was too much. Too much, that is, until I sat in my apartment one Friday night and looked straight at the cross and told Jesus I preferred my sin over what He had done to deliver me from my sin and the kingdom of darkness. I wept that night; I think Jesus smiled. And it was the turning point for me. God was taking the death out of me.

Men live in the shade because they do not like the full light of day. Inside our secrets and shame, we prefer the half-light of truth to the bright light of life Jesus has promised. In these shadows of half-light, we can control our image, live in two separate realities, have a visible and vocal self-righteousness, enjoy “emotional affairs” which are nothing but adultery, cut business deals that are not fair for all parties, hide from who we really are, and project the life we want others to see. Unlike Moses, we have chosen “the pleasures of sin for a season.” This is the death and darkness our good Father will incinerate to take it and the last ashes of our death out of us until the Light of Life shines in us like the morning sun.

These “preferences”, dark comforts, self-gratifying pleasures are the predictable traps and ambushes that we knowingly walk into, even though we realize the danger. Those waking moments inside the snares we helped the enemy set for ourselves are the loneliest moments a man will ever know on earth. We can be among family and friends, and in our churches, but still be men of the walking dead.

There’s not much hope for a guy who persists in isolation without honest friends. Not much help or friendship for a man whose matrix of life and fulfillment is performance. I see it all the time. A man’s life disappears before his very eyes and suddenly, he does not know who he can trust and no longer trusts himself. In fact, he trusts no one unless he is lucky enough to have one last friend who knows how to help a brother find his life again. What he resisted before because it was light and life he now runs to in desperation. When we do go to Him, our good Father continues his work to take away our death so we can be made alive by his son, our Lord Jesus, and find comfort and help, direction and joy, peace and forgiveness, friendship and hope because the Holy Spirit generates rich life and love within us. Home never looked so good and all our good Father requires is our honest cooperation!

I got another fresh start in my early 40s when my father, then in his 70s, told his children and their spouses about some sin in his middle years that had deeply hurt others. He did this by way of confession and telling us his story. His honesty, despite the temporary loss of trust among his children, was the key to finally getting honest about my own secrets before they got a choke-hold on my life. My father’s desire to live in truth despite the anguish of telling his story was what God used to set me free. Dad went home to Jesus last summer, the last bit of death sent out of him by Our Father.

Here’s a short video clip with more:
http://www.youtube.com/Bond of Brothers – Dad’s Story

By Wes Yoder, author of Bond of Brothers: Connecting with Other Men beyond Work, Weather and Sports

The following new individuals and organizations have joined NCMM in August:

C&MA Men
Hurdling Handicaps Speaking Ministries
Jay Payleitner
Kingdom Men United
LifeWay Men
Safe Cell, Inc.

We welcome these ministries and for-profit organizations who along with the other members of NCMM are together, building men.

Dr. David Cook was one our speakers at last year’s NCMM RELOAD Conference in San Antonio. Golf Digest has named him one of the “Top 10 Sport Psychologists in the World.” His clients have included NBA world champions, NCAA champions, NFL and MLB players and teams, PGA tour champions, Olympians, and many Fortune 500 companies. He’s also the author of the bestselling book Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia.

What David shared with us that evening in San Antonio was the spellbinding story of how his critically acclaimed book came to be written and how it was being made into a major motion picture about golf, fly-fishing and finding faith in Christ. He told us he was helping to write the screenplay and that while the movie was about golf, it was more about finding true success through Jesus Christ.

Set in Utopia Texas, it is the story of Luke Chisolm (Lucas Black), a talented young golfer set on making the pro tour  his big shot turns into a public disaster. Luke unexpectedly meets eccentric rancher Johnny Crawford (Robert Duvall). Johnny takes Luke under his wing and profoundly changes the way Luke looks at golf and life.

Seven Days in Utopia opens September 2 in theaters across the country. TDavid Cook’s remarkable story has been masterfully brought to the screen. Golfers and non-golfers alike will be impacted by the powerful transformation that takes place. Check out the movie trailer and other resources HERE. Plan to see it and bring friends and family with you. Seven Days in Utopia will be a terrific opportunity to open up conversations about the Gospel with men who may not know Christ.

Dave Brown is Director and Pastor-at-Large of the Washington Area Coalition of Men’s Ministries (WACMM) which has been serving churches in the nation’s capital and across the mid-Atlantic region since 1999.

Fireworks

Please welcome the following organizations that joined NCMM in July:

Central Coast Men’s Ministry
Central Seventh Day Baptist Church
Core 300
Landis Entertainment
Living True Ministries
Play Your Part Well Ministries
Tyndale House Publishers

We welcome these ministries and for-profit organizations who along with the other members of NCMM are together, building men.

Since the beginning of the year, twenty-two organizations have joined joined NCMM:

Ambassador Agency
American Bible Society
Armor of God Ministries
Bay Area Coalition of Men’s Ministries
Better Dads
Christian Business Mens’ Connection
Christian Men’s Network
Church for Men
DMMNNA (North American Conference of Men’s Ministry Staff)
Fight Like A Man
JLA Ministries, Inc.
Links Players International
Louisiana Men of Christ
Lutheran Hour Ministries
Men Alive in Christ
Men in Balance, Inc.
Men U for Transformed Lives
Men’s Ministry Coaching
R.E.A.L. Men Ministry
Rough Cut Men Ministries
The Center for Executive Leadership
Zondervan

We welcome the following ministries and for-profit organizations who along with the other members of NCMM are together, building men.

Niels Bohr said, “An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field.” If that quotation is true, I must be getting pretty close to being an expert father by now. Hopefully though, I’ve learned from the mistakes I’ve made. The mark of a good leader and a good father is just that—the ability to learn from mistakes. The man who doesn’t is doomed to repeat them over and over again. The following areas are some tips about fathering that I’ve discovered over the years. I list these not because I’ve perfected these areas, but because I finally recognize them for how important they really are.

Tip #1 – Emphasize Strengths not Weaknesses
As a father I have a tendency to focus on the things my children do wrong instead of the things they do right. But as a coach I tell my players to focus on their strengths not their weaknesses. Help find your son’s and daughter’s strengths–their gifts from God. Focus on those instead of being overly critical of their weaknesses.

Tip #2 – Give Plenty of Physical Affection
As men we are raised to be uncomfortable with too much affection from another male—especially the physical kind. It’s interesting that we compensate for that by knocking each other all around the football field, wrestling mat, or boxing ring. For some reason we think it’s okay to slap another man on the butt during the heat of athletic competition, but we’re uncomfortable hugging one another in greeting. As physical as the male animal is, you’d think we would be more comfortable expressing physical affection. But I think it must be a social taboo ingrained into our unconsciousness at an early age. Hug and kiss your kids—even your son. Give them plenty of physical love. Even as they get older, continue to show them physical affection.

Tip #3 – Give Them Your Time
It’s almost a cliché to quote the song by Harry Chapin, “Cats in the Cradle,” to illustrate the consequences of a father being too absorbed in his work when his son is young. The reality is that most of us men are given the vision that in order to be a success in life we must be successful in our work—that our career is more important than anything else in life. Oh, we give lip service to the importance of our families, but our actions often speak louder than our words. Time is the most valuable, and the most limited, resource we have to give to our children. Your kids need your time more than they need your money—just ask any fatherless child.

Tip # 4 – Heart over Performance
Too often, I have a tendency to judge my children’s efforts by their performance. The reality is that an individual can do his personal best in an area in which he is not gifted, and still fall short of average performance. Likewise, a person can be gifted and do well in an area while applying very little effort. Which scenario should they be applauded most for?

Tip # 5 – Have Fun
It’s so easy to get caught up in the complexities and stresses of everyday life. This is especially true for those who take responsibilities seriously. But part of a dad’s charm is his ability to have fun. Let yourself go and remember the all the goofy things that make life worth living. Have fun with your children while they’re still little. Take some time to just goof-off. There will be plenty of time to be serious and somber. One of the things kids appreciate most about their fathers is his sense of humor. When Dad has life under control, he values the humorous side of life and shows it to his kids.

Tip # 6 – Don’t Fear Failure
I spent much of my life avoiding anything I wasn’t perfect at because I was afraid to fail. This has caused me to have a number of regrets. The regrets I have in life are mostly of things I didn’t do–not what I did do. Oh, I regret some things I’ve done over the years (I’ve done many things I’m not proud of), but I don’t regret my sins of commission like I do my sins of omission. Missed opportunities, an apathetic attitude, and not seeking significance were all choices I made which I regret deeply. I was raised to believe that failure was the worst thing of all. But it’s not. I’ve come to understand that true failure is never reaching out to attempt something great, to try and reach your full potential. You only fail when you don’t try. I regret all the times I was impatient with my children and never gave them the attention they deserved. I’ve told my son many times that I needed him to know that whatever mistakes I made as a dad–and I made many–those mistakes were my problem; they were never anything to do with him. He deserved more love and better fathering than I was capable of giving him.

Tip # 7 – Understand Your Power
Several years ago, during a rare bout of brutal self-honesty, I discovered that I treated my employees better than I did my wife and children. I heard myself saying things to my family I would never say to my employees. If another man had made those kinds of statements to my wife or kids, I would have physically confronted him. Why did I feel free to verbally wound those I treasure more than anything else in the world with words that I would never dream of saying to a stranger? God has given us men great power that can be used for good or evil. Just look around at some of the problems men have created in other peoples’ lives. Then look at some of the great things men have accomplished to benefit others. It’s an awesome power. But with that comes the need to understand it and use it responsibly. Former U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammerskjöld said, “Only he deserves power who every day justifies it.”

Tip # 8 – Develop Friendships
Most men in our country have acquaintances, but no real friends. The pressures and time constraints of work and supporting a family often take away the opportunity to build masculine relationships. But to be the best father possible, you need other men in your life to hold you accountable and to lift you up during difficult times. Another man’s experiences are invaluable when we try to navigate some of the uncharted waters of fathering.
Isolation is death to a man’s character. Perhaps that’s why our culture, seemingly bent on the destruction of positive masculinity, continues to promote the rugged individualist as the model for men to look up to. The Marlboro Man, Dirty Harry, John Wayne, and James Bond—our celluloid heroes—never needed any help from other men. They just sucked it up and overcame whatever problems popped up. Then they rode off into the sunset by themselves.
But real men need other men. We need the accountability, comradeship, support, and yes, gasp, help, that other men can provide.

Tip #9 – Be Consistent
Being consistent is one of the strongest traits a man can bring to fathering. Kids rely on you to be consistent in your responses no matter the circumstances. They rely on you being dependable, a rock in the face of adversity. When life throws a curve ball, they need Dad to be there to tell them it’s okay. Think about how scared you would be if the leader you were following–maybe someone you thought was strong or even invincible–were to suddenly become very frightened or to exhibit erratic, out-of-control behavior during a stressful situation. Would you want to follow that person again? I wouldn’t. Your emotional stability, especially in stressful situations, provides your kids with the security they need in order to grow into a healthy man or woman. You can’t keep stressful situations from happening, but you can control how you react to them. Teach your kids that a man keeps his head while others around him lose theirs.

Tip #10 – Overcome Complacency & Passivity
In the movie Schindler’s List, Liam Neeson stars as Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist during World War II. In an effort to capitalize on the war he acquired a factory in Poland which he ran with the cheapest labor around—Jewish labor.
At first he seemed like every other greedy German industrialist, driven by profit and unmoved by the means of his profiteering. But somewhere along the line, something changed. He succeeded in his quest for riches, but by the end of the war he had spent everything he made on keeping 1,100 Jewish men and women alive. He literally bought their lives by having them work in his factory.

In a powerful scene at the end of the movie, with Allied forces bearing down, Schindler said goodbye to the many Jewish factory workers he had saved. The workers had previously removed some of their gold-filled teeth to create a ring for Schindler. Inside the ring they engraved an old Hebrew proverb, “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.”

As they gave him the ring in gratitude, Schindler fell to his knees and began sobbing in remorse. He deeply regretted that he had not done more to save additional lives. Even when the workers tried to console him that he had done so much more than anyone else, he cried out in agony over regret at his complacency. “I could have got more out. If I’d just…I didn’t do enough,” he sobbed. “I could have gotten one more person—and I didn’t…I didn’t!”
Shindler, while certainly not as complacent as many of us, realized too late that he could have done so much more. He regretted it dearly. And while others did not blame him, he knew in his heart that he could have done more.

When my time comes I do not want to be a man on my knees before God with my face in my hands sobbing with regret over the fact that I did not use the gifts that God gave me to make a difference in other people’s lives—especially my own children’s. I don’t want those regrets and I don’t want you to have those regrets either. Use the power God has given you to make a difference in the world—before it’s too late. Your kids will be proud of you for it!

by Rick Johnson who is the founder of Better Dads, a fathering skills program designed to equip men to be more engaged in the lives of their children. Rick develops and delivers father training workshops for businesses, churches, schools, and other organizations nationally and internationally. He previously authored That’s My Son: How Moms Can Influence Boys to Become Men of Character. Rick, his wife, Suzanne, and their two children live in Gresham, Oregon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God gave men tremendous power. It’s not the power of physical strength as much as it is a generational power. Just by the things we do or don’t do today, we will affect the lives of people for generations. We will affect the lives of people for hundreds of years—people we will never know and never meet. But with that great power comes great responsibility. Power that is not used (or is used inappropriately) is wasted.

If we must all die (and we must) then let’s at least end knowing we lived lives of meaning—that our time here on earth stood for something. There is nothing more pitiful than a man faced with his own mortality who realizes he was insignificant.

In the movie Schindler’s List, Liam Neeson stars as Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist during World War II. In an effort to capitalize on the war he acquired a factory in Poland which he ran with the cheapest labor around—Jewish labor.

At first he seemed like every other greedy German industrialist, driven by profit and unmoved by the means of his profiteering. But somewhere along the line, something changed. He succeeded in his quest for riches, but by the end of the war he had spent everything he made on keeping 1,100 Jewish men and women alive. He literally bought their lives by having them work in his factory.

In a powerful scene at the end of the movie, with Allied forces bearing down, Schindler said goodbye to the many Jewish factory workers he had saved. The workers had previously removed some of their gold-filled teeth to create a ring for Schindler. Inside the ring they engraved an old Hebrew proverb, “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.”

As they gave him the ring in gratitude, Schindler fell to his knees and began sobbing in remorse. He deeply regretted that he had not done more to save additional lives. Even when the workers tried to console him that he had done so much more than anyone else, he cried out in agony over regret at his complacency. “I could have got more out. If I’d just…I didn’t do enough,” he sobbed. “I could have gotten one more person—and I didn’t…I didn’t!”

Shindler, while certainly not as complacent as many of us, realized too late that he could have done so much more. He regretted it dearly. And while others did not blame him, he knew in his heart that he could have done more.

When my time comes I do not want to be a man on my knees before God with my face in my hands sobbing with regret over the fact that I did not use the gifts that God gave me to make a difference in other people’s lives. That it took until then to recognize the missed opportunities and lost rewards I squandered.

I don’t want those regrets and I don’t want you to have those regrets either. Use the power God has given you to make a difference in the world—before it’s too late.

“Excerpted from Rick Johnson, The Power of a Man, Revell Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI, 2009.”

Bestselling author and speaker Rick Johnson founded Better Dads, a fathering skills program, based on the urgent need to empower men to lead and serve in their families and communities. Rick’s books have expanded his ministry to include influencing the whole family, with life-changing insights for men and women on parenting, marriage, and personal growth. He is a sought-after speaker at many large conferences across the US and Canada and is a popular keynote speaker at men’s and women’s retreats and conferences on parenting and marriage. To find out more about Rick Johnson and the Better Dads ministry please visit www.betterdads.net.

How can a church that averages 350 men, women and children on a typical Sunday, attract more than 400 guys to a first-time men’s event? Put another way: how can a church that counts no more than 150 men as regular attendees, bring out more than 400 men for its inaugural men’s rally?

Impossible? I saw it with my own eyes, as the guest speaker at the “Men’s Super Supper” at South Gate Baptist Church in Springfield, MO, January 30. In an era when well-established men’s ministries are struggling to bring in men, these rookies packed a gym full of guys on a Sunday night. How did they pull it off?

1. The event had a champion. Todd Anderson is a guy who’s crazy about the message of Church for Men. He contacted me and promised 400 guys. I was skeptical, but the Spirit urged me to accept his invitation to speak.

2. The champion got the support of the pastor. Todd immediately got Pastor Nolan Carrier’s support for the event.

3. The champion gathered a team of men to help. Todd didn’t put the event together alone. He built a team of half a dozen guys to help with logistics, publicity, etc. Todd and his team got the word out in the local media and called many area churches to personally invite men. Some churches sent 20 or 30 guys.

4. We looked at the calendar and chose a guy-friendly date. January 30 is the Sunday before the Super Bowl. There’s no football that weekend. In fact, we marketed the event under the slogan, “No football? What’s a man to do?”

5. We built on a sports theme – and promised laughs. We played up the comedy angle of my presentation. The name “Men’s Super Supper” was an obvious tie-in with the big game. Promoting it as a “supper” instead of a rally, gathering or worship service made it more appealing to men.
6. We charged admission and fed ‘em barbecue. The $10 admission fee forced men to commit to the event, and got ‘em looking forward to brisket, beans and ‘tater salad. The guys powered through 500 lbs. of chow, not counting a phalanx of desserts provided by the women of the church.

7. We kept it unreligious. No praise and worship music. No singing, hugging or hand-holding. We played manly movie music while the men ate (Star Wars, James Bond, Bonanza, etc.) Then we played a comedy clip from Brad Stine, and followed with a log-sawing contest. We did guy stuff – not church stuff.

8. Topic. I started off with a few laughs, and then I drew the map to manhood for the guys. I showed them how Jesus and three other Bible heroes walked (or didn’t walk) these paths. Every guy was locked in. The visuals really helped.

9. Timing. We promised “in and out in 99 minutes.” We started at 6:06. I got off the stage by 7:30 and gave the men 2 simple questions to discuss at their tables. We dismissed right on time at 7:45.

10. What we’re hearing back from the guys: At least one guy decided to follow Christ. Several others began deep conversations about their spiritual lives. A number of teens have begun reading, “The Map” and are discussing their spiritual lives in terms of the three journeys. And South Gate Baptist has the core in place for a dynamic ministry to men.

If you’re thinking about having a men’s rally at your church, this is a good template to follow. Go back and review the ten points: 1, 2 and 3 involve your organization; the next four involve marketing; and the last three involve the event itself.

Of course, one thing that goes without mentioning: you have to pray. Todd had many people (men and women) praying for this event. The women of the church were extremely supportive as they watched their men get fired up.

David Murrow is the Director of Church for Men, an organization that helps congregations reach more men and boys. In his day job, David works as a television producer and writer. He’s the author of three books. He lives in Alaska with his wife, three children, two grandchildren and a dachshund named Pepper.

In 1914 the advertisement below appeared in The London Times:

“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.” (signed) Shackleton

Can you imagine anyone answering an ad like this? Well, thousands of men from all over the world did. From among them, world famous explorer Ernest Shackleton chose 27 to sail with him to Antarctica on a ship he named Endurance. In the nearly two years they traveled across Antarctica, Shackleton and his men battled the elements and endured hardships in an adventure that defies description. These men chose not to play safe.

Jesus invites us into the hazardous rescue mission to Planet Earth. In John 6 when he laid out the cost of signing up for life’s greatest adventure, most of those who claimed to be his followers turned back. And many still do today. But there’s that handful who stick it out and say like Peter — Lord, you’re the only one who has anything lasting, anything that really matters. You offer life and we want to be fully alive.

Men, it is those few who look at the hardships, count the cost and still sign on for the expedition and who will, like Peter and the other first disciples turn the world upside down. Jesus calls us into his great mission and his great adventure to proclaim and glories of His gospel and to make disciples among all men. Like Ernest Shackleton sending out his ad, Jesus talks straight about the “hazards and honor” for those who will risk it all for Him. Wherever you might be in your journey, remember – the easy road, the popular road never leads to anything that really matters. In fact, Jesus said it leads to destruction. So if you want to be fully alive, set sail with the real “Master and Commander” and make a difference that counts forever.

Terry Virgo, Founder of Newfrontiers, writes, “Grace should never lead to passivity, but to outrageous adventure, a lifestyle that baffles those who play safe. It threatens the status quo not only of tentative religion but also of cynical unbelief.” The truth is God’s grace sets God’s men free to risk it all for what is eternally significant — freedom in Christ!

© 2011, Dave Brown is a pastor and the director of the Washington Area Coalition of Men’s Ministries (WACMM). He has been the men’s pastor at McLean Bible Church in McLean, VA and served for 30 years in the federal government’s Senior Executive Service (SES), including eight years as an appointee of President Ronald Reagan. He did his seminary work at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Reformed Theological Seminary. He’s been a leadership consultant, university administrator and member of the board of directors for the C.S. Lewis Institute.

The Reload’11 annual leadership conference for NCMM is coming to Nashville on September 19-21, 2011. This is your opportunity to reconnect with men’s ministry leaders from across the country. If you are a regional or national leader of men, if you are just starting a ministry to men or a man just trying to answer God’s call to be a “man of God”, you won’t want to miss Reload’11. You’ll get reloaded for ministry with challenging messages, strategies and an opportunity to engage leaders committed to building disciplemaking churches across America.

The conference will be begin at 5 p.m on Monday, September 19th and end promptly at noon on Wednesday, September 21st. All sessions will be held at the Holiday Inn Opryland-Airport in Nashville, TN. Stay tuned for more details to follow.

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