Feb 10, 2018

Bring Them Back

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. ~Proverbs 22:6

Heraclitus (535–475 BC) was a Greek philosopher from the city of Ephesus. He regarded himself as a self-taught pioneer of wisdom. Others called Heraclitus "The Obscure" and the "Weeping Philosopher". He’s credited with one of my all-time favorite quotes. The first time I saw it was on the inside of the Linfield College football locker room in McMinnville, Oregon. Linfield, if you didn’t know, possesses the longest streak of winning seasons (62 as of 2017) in all divisions in college football! 
Here it is:  “Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn't even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.”
God designed you to be the one—the warrior—commissioned to bring your family back. You’re the one who will lead the charge, the one who absorbs the impact, the one who willingly sacrifices his life. 
You are also the one responsible to navigate your family to health, well-being, and greater proximity to Jesus. You will sacrifice your life to cut through all obstacles, leading by example—in full display. 
You’re the man in the arena. You’re the tip of the spear. You are God’s champion commissioned to bring the others back.

Are you actively engaged in the battle for your marriage? Are you swinging the battle-ax on behalf of your children? Where does your blade need sharpening today?  Fight well my friends. Fight to win. Fight to the bitter end.

Jan 31, 2018

Five Myths of Manhood

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. ~1 Corinthians 13:11

I grew up gun-spoiled. I admit it. Dad was a high school teacher and coach most of his adult life, but loves to buy, trade, and sell guns as a hobby. When he bought a gun he really liked, it often ended up with his children or grandchildren before the temptation to trade it overwhelmed him. For example, Dad’s all-time favorite rifle is the pre-1964 Winchester Model 70, chambered in .270. Guess what Dad gifted my sons as their first hunting rifle? 
His favorite shotgun is the Winchester Model 12 made produced from 1912-1964. Guess what I received as a college graduation gift? Did I mention that I’m gun-spoiled? 
Shotguns shoot multiple bullets—called shot— with effective distances of no more than eighty yards. Generally speaking, hunters only shoot shotguns when pursuing game birds. To shoot a rifle at a game bird would be not only ludicrous and ineffective but also illegal! A bird hunter will use the shotgun every time, sending the shot in a spreading pattern. 
Because game birds are usually flying! Some birds are faster than others, some fly higher than others, and some come at different angles than others. You never know where a game bird will come from, where it will go, the exact speed it will fly, or what distance away it will be. What you do know is that it will be moving, and moving fast.
It’s hard to hit a moving target.
Men today live under gray skies. Black and white have faded and men are confused about who they are and what a man is and does. Understanding manhood is like hitting a moving target. Here are several myths of manhood for you to navigate. 
Myth #1: Manhood is not his job or title. What’s the first question after every introduction between men? 
“What do you do?” But your career is not who you are. In the past one hundred years, we’ve moved from a traditional family structure to a more egalitarian model where spouses share the work and household loads. This confuses men, who for centuries identified who they were as men by what they did. In many households, not only does the wife work but is also the primary wage earner.  Can you see how this impacts a man’s identity?
Myth #2: A man is not his social status or financial portfolio. The ability to make money and the ability to act as a man are different. We wrongly assume that the rich somehow have it together. Think about the twenty-two-year-old who is a multimillionaire simply because he can run fast, jump high, or throw a ball accurately. To think that young male is a man because he can afford an agent misunderstands what manhood really is. 
Jesus wasn’t elevated in Scripture because of his financial portfolio. In fact, Jesus was homeless for at least three or four years of his life? He said of himself, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). 
Myth #3: A man is not his talents and abilities. Skill sets do not make the man. Decisions do. Actions do. It’s what we do with our talents and abilities that make men.
Myth #4: Manhood doesn’t happen at a certain age either. All that chronological age tells us is how long you’ve lived, and for many, it’s a testimony against their ability to transition into manhood. A man is as a man does. I am constantly redirecting forty, fifty, and sixty-year-olds who are males but not men. They are boys masquerading in a man’s body while masquerading behind their age. 
Myth #5: Lastly, a man is not his anatomy. Just as reaching the age of pubic hair does not turn a male into a man neither does having a penis. Men aren’t born. Babies are born. Children are raised. But men, oh men, they’re forged in the fires of responsibility, compounded daily over time. A man is made. And after he’s been made, a man acts like a man. 
It takes one to know one.

Jan 22, 2018

Long Socks II

My lips will speak no evil, and my tongue will speak no lies I will never concede that you are right; I will defend my integrity until I die.
~Job 27:4-5 (NLT)

Let’s continue our conversation about the rope climb and long socks form our last entry and four things I learned about integrity in the process. First, without a solid foundation of integrity, a man will slip. He will get burned by his poor choices— rope burned in our illustration. He will experience pain. More importantly, those closest to him will be collateral damage in the wake of his slippage. 
Second, because I trusted the weak foundation (my upper body strength) I lacked the capacity to remain stable. With legs flailing in midair I lack the stability to climb under a shifting rope. I shifted without a solid foothold and came crashing to the ground for all around to see. It wasn’t pretty! I trusted the wrong foundation. I miscalculated. I misjudged. I was misguided. 
                 Life is a constant shifting. It’s unstable. Life is simple for a young man yet to enter the Stress Bubble of marriage and raising a family but becomes more complex once we enter it. People get sick. Bodies break down. Tragedy strikes. Energy diminishes. Careers change. Children are raised. We need the foundation of integrity to weather the many storms that threaten our foundation.
                 Third, my early attempts at the rope climb were a struggle. The more I struggled the less endurance I had. Even when I managed to muscle my way to the top, I was completely spent, not mention the rope burns on my hands on the way down! 
Does your integrity have the composition to finish strong? The strength of youth might get you there but will it keep you there? It’s the wrong foundation. Your charisma can take you further than your integrity will handle. I’ve seen this a myriad of times. 
Those lacking integrity will struggle. They may make money. They may have nice things. They may be “successful” but it’s a house of cards that will crash at the discovery of the wrong secret.
Do you want that life for yourself and those you love? Or, do you want to be the best version of integrity even if it costs you more income, success, or status? Choose the road less traveled. Choose the path of integrity.
There are no shortcuts to a life of integrity. Integrity is one choice at a time compounded over time. Ratchet you life into manhood one foundational moment at a time. 

Jan 19, 2018

Long Socks 1

 There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.  
                                                  ~Job 1:1(NLT)
A few years ago I joined a local gym that was the latest craze in the fitness world. I noticed that many of the members wore over-the-calf socks that nearly touched the knees. I filed it away as one of the many worthless clothing placebos people use to convince themselves of a tactical advantage. 
But a couple months later the fitness coach handed me a pair of long socks as I entered. 
“You’re gonna need these. We are climbing the rope today!” 
      “Why do I need socks to climb a rope?”  It was the strangest thing I’d ever heard. That is until I tried climbing and failed time and time again. My upper, as strong as it was, couldn’t handle my weight.
Then, a man larger than myself jumped up, grabbed the roped, wrapped his legs around it, used his legs to ratchet himself to the top of the rope, and did the same thing on the way down.
“Ah! Now I see why we need long socks!” I was soon climbing with the best of them. I learned the hard way that rope climbing has little to do with upper body strength and more about using the feet as a foundation to ratchet the ascent, and the arms only used for guidance and balance. 
Foot position is foundational to climbing the rope. 
In the same way, integrity is foundational to how far we go and how much we are respected in life. Except, the media and politics, you cannot separate integrity and success.
Without integrity you’re limited. Without integrity, you will never become the best version of you. Like the long socks, integrity is foundational if you want to ratchet yourself up and over life’s many challenges.
Position yourself for a life of integrity. Position yourself for the climb. Without the foundation of integrity, you will only get so high before your own lacking causes you to come crashing down on your butt for all to see. Ingrain the concept of integrity into your children from the earliest possible moments.