Archive for the ‘Fatherhood’ Category

In my web prowling, I found a group that I thought I would share with you. These guys are doing exactly what we are sharing with you here. They are Third Option Men. I hope to get these guys over here to share about thier vision, their site, the books they have published, and the mission trips they are leading. To give you a taste today, I have a link to share for an ebook they are giving away.

I am currently reading a variety of books.  I re-reading Wild at Heart by John Eldridge with an older man I meet with.  In my weekly Men’s Group we are reading through Soar by Kenny Luck and with another friend I am reading Risk by Kenny Luck.  This got me to thinking about what others might read.  I am interested to know what other books or authors you our readers would recommend.  I’ve read so many books around it, but by far the following stand out for me –

Robert Lewis – Men’s Fraternity and How to Raise a Modern Day Knight

John Ashcroft – Lessons From a Father to his Son

John Eldridge – Wild at Heart, The Way of the Wild Heart

Donald Miller – To Own A Dragon

Gordon Dalby – Healing the Masculine Soul

Kenny Luck – Soar, Risk

Patrick Morley – The Man in the Mirror

Emerson Eggerich – Love and Respect

 

What books have you heard of or read that challenged you in the way you operate as a Godly man.  What has impacted you as a man, husband and father?

I had a good conversation with my son and friend this last week about being men.  The conversation began with – how do you define being a man.  What qualities should one have?  I shared my thoughts on the subject and a lot of what I have written about it.  In fact when this site began I put together a series entitled Real Authentic Men, which I had written for my son and gave him a copy of it.  I reminded him of it and he found it and we are going to revisit the list again.  My son will be 14 in June and since I first put together that series I have tried to instill in him those things I have written about.

The conversation with my friend revolved around qualities and characteristics men need.  The things the culture and society shove down our throat versus the truth of what Jesus has to say.  Did Jesus in fact make any statements about it? Why are men uncomfortable around other types of men? What is it about other men that threatens our masculinity?  If we are secure in who we are and how God designed us should that even matter?  Does wearing skinny jeans a v-neck t-shirts while drinking tea and listening to show tunes making you less as a man?

So I decided to post the question to our readers and hear your thoughts and ideas?  What would your responses be to the questions?  Ultimately what makes a man a man?  Is there things men shouldn’t be doing?

As a young man I was told repeatedly the mark of a mature Christian was how disciplined he was.  Those disciplines included – getting up early to have a quiet time, reading a chapter in the Bible and praying.  It continued with active involvement in a church body, small group, men’s group and regular accountability, fasting and tithing.  Along the way I discovered it was also an important discipline to be actively involved in discipleship, having an older man working investing in me, which I in turn disciple younger men.  All of these disciplines are something I agree with and thing should be part of every man’s walk.

 

I have put into practice in not all but most of these in my life ongoing.  It has changed and morphed over the years.  The biggest challenge for me has been in my kids getting older and having to work around everyone’s schedule.   It’s definitely not a bad things, but going from being single to married and then with kids, you begin having other people vying for your attention and it does make it tricky to fit all of it in.

 

One thing I have always found helpful to do is sit down and map out my time in a given week.  Looking at making all these disciplines a part of my daily and weekly life. I want to see where I my time is being spent and is there an area that needs adjusting or changing so that I can get the most out of each day and the most out of my relationships, not with just family and friends, but with Jesus as well.

 

If you are really honest about your time you often see patterns that you won’t really like.  It will provide you with a true sense of what is most important in your life.  Which reminds me of the saying – we invest the majority of our time and energy into the things we enjoy.

 

Getting real means also admitting sometimes those disciplines are not enjoyable and are a struggle for us to practice. It has been said that it takes at least 21 – 66 days to for a habit.  What that means is that in order for it to be something we do consistently, we must either daily or on a very regular basis put it into practice.  It also means to be realistic, don’t try to implement these disciplines at the same time.  Begin with one or two and work your way up.

 

While I am not always good at practicing all of them, I do see value in each and every one and want to make sure they are ongoing and continual practices.

 

What about you, are there other disciplines you have put into practice?  Have you evaluated your time recently?  What areas can change or be adjusted? 

 

In what areas of your life are you most intentional about?  What are you putting your time and energy into?  Are you investing in your relationship with your wife, your kids or other family members?  Are you investing time into your job?  What about God, your community or neighbors?  How much time are you investing into the lives of others?

Being intentional is something God has shown me through the years and something I have tried to make a large part of my life.   The one thing I had to realize in making this a part of my life, was that as much as I was going to be intentional, not everyone would view it through the same lens or be willing to be as intentional as I was.  I have had to deal with rejection and not having it reciprocated in the amount I do it.  Rejection is never fun and can be extremely difficult to process.  The one thing I always remind myself is that the worst thing someone can tell you is no.

Intentionality plays out in my life in a variety of ways.  I am intentional with my wife and kids.  I set aside time to invest in them individually as well as weekly.  Every Tuesday is date night for my wife and I, as well as communicating through text or a phone call during the day.  We have also set aside the first 15 minutes I get home from work to go to our room shut the door and just talk with each other, diffuse from the day.  When it comes to my kids, I don’t work on Fridays so I can go to school and volunteer in their classrooms and be as involved in their education as I can.  I also set aside a day on the calendar each month where I take them out for a couple of hours and talk with them.  It allows me to find out what’s going on inside and it’s those areas that I can pray into.  This has been especially helpful with my oldest daughter in talking about boys, dating and how she should expect to be treated.

Through trial and error I have learned the importance of intentionally investing in the lives of other men.  Finding a common ground or connection and building on it.  Asking questions that get to their heart, what’s going on inside.  How can I support them through prayer and as a friend/brother.  Setting up a regular time to hang out, talk as well as just do life together through various activities. The best experience I’ve had was in my home, I built a community of guys who enjoyed playing games and each week I invited guys to come over and play games on Saturday night.  Week after week anywhere from 4 – 24 guys showed up at my house and we hung out, talked, ate/drank and played games.  For me this is a great memory.

When I engage in something I am demonstrating intentionality, with the purpose of being building relationships.  I purposely invest my time as well.  When I build relationships with most people, I continue caring about them and I attempt to stay connected with them.  Even if I am not in a continued close relationship with them, I still continue to check in and see how things are going.  For many folks my intentionality with them is going to be life long.  For some, changes occur and we move on with our lives.

Most importantly my relationship with God is about intentionality as well.  Each day I purpose to deepen my walk with him.  Through prayer, reading, church and relationships with other believers I am able to deepen my walk with him.  Many times I feel as though this relationship suffers the most when it should always be the priority.  I am being intentional in all the other things I can tend to forget he should be first.  After all he’s the reason I am being intentional with everyone else.

Today’s post is more of a fact-finding post.  I’m genuinely interested to hear your thoughts and feedback.  Why do you go to church, what do you get out of it and what keeps you coming back?

Environment – are people engaging, welcoming and friendly.  Are they genuinely happy to see you?  Is there a rich and deep community of people who value you?  If you missed a week would the absence of your presence be felt? Is it a place to find safety and retreat from the world, where you can be around others who are like-minded?

Do you go for the coffee and snacks?

Aesthetics – do you like the colors, the decorations, candles, mood lighting?  Is the seating comfortable? Does the music stir your soul, get you heart beating?

Messages – do you go because the words that are spoken and taught from the Pastor and staff challenge you, do they move you?  Do they stir something in your heart?  Do you feel like God is speaking directly to you?  Does it change the way you go about your life?

Groups and activities – do you have a men’s group, delicious breakfasts or fun and challenging getaways.  Do you go to build relationships with others or make new connections?  Are you looking for a place to be real and honest with others and find accountability?  Do you need support in an area you are struggling with?

For me personally I have gone to church since I was 7 years old.  I made the decision at a VBS program.  I’ve been following Jesus since.  Some days I am better at that than others.  When my family started attending church it was at a Lutheran church that met in a Catholic church.  I was baptized and went through Catechism classes.  It was a really good experience, but really was lacking in a lot of areas.  We had no Youth Group and in high school I l left that church and started attending a different church in our town that had a Youth Group. I was able to grow and develop at that church.  It was during those years I attended where my faith really grew and developed for a young teenage guy.  I drew closer to God and spent many hours talking to him.

As I have grown and matured finding a church I could be invested in, serve and get fed has been one of the most important decisions in my life.  As I added a wife and kids it has shifted a bit, but the core of it is still the same.  I look forward to being actively involved in the church that we attend.  I go to hear a good message and be challenged, I like a message that will stay with me and really get me thinking.  There have been so many times where I felt the message being spoken was God speaking directly to me.  I like engaging in conversations with others and asking more than surface type questions.  I really want to know what’s going on in their life.  I am involved in a variety of groups and activities as a way to build relationships as well as be involved in life and community with others.

I take an active role in leadership in church because it is part of how God designed me.  My natural gifting is in leadership and administration and I want to use the gifts I have been give.  I also serve in different areas as a way of giving back and stay away from the mind-set of how will I get served.

Most importantly I believe in God, I believe in his word and why he sent his son for us.  I am desirous of growing in my relationships with God through a variety of means.  I am excited each week I get to go to the church we attend and be part of that community.  I long to see the lives of men challenged and changed.  There are countless reasons why I am actively involved in church.  I continue to pray and remind my wife should the day ever come where I become a pew warmer, that is the day she either kicks me or slaps me back to reality.

As 2011 winds down and we gear up for 2012.  How was your year?  Were you able to accomplish the goals you set for yourself?  What regrets are you holding onto?

Each year I take the last 2 weeks of December off and spend it with my wife and kids.  We spend the holidays together as a family.  I usually have a couple of books I read through and then spend the rest of the time reflecting back on the last year and making plans for the coming year.  I not one to make resolutions, but rather focus on making goals that are achievable.

I am the type of person that does a lot of self-reflection on a daily basis.  I constantly strive to be a better man and person in all areas of my life.  I am not one to settle for just letting things be, I look at all the relationships and activities I have as part of my life and spend time thinking how can I truly impact those areas.

For me this last year has been an exciting time, but one that has challenged me in relationships with other men.  After leaving the church, we had been part of this last year some of the people I was closest to, made the choice not to continue in a relationship with me and that hurt deeply.  Five guys that I have been closest to and maintained long-standing relationships moved away and this has left me with a void.  I have maintained some relationships with a handful of folks, but those real life, deep-rooted relationships are gone.

Thankfully, through social media I have been able to connect with a handful of guys that have filled those gaps.  It has not looked the way I though it would but I believe that God has used these connections to fill that void in my life.

One of my goals for this next year is to deepen and develop real life relationships with other men who live here in my city.  Even though I have on-line relationships and they are truly a blessing, I still need guys involved in my real life.  I continue to pray that God will bring the right men into my life and I will once again build deep, long-lasting relationships as I have had in the past.

My other goals include living out my faith in real ways that I have not done before.  Using my voice to speak the truth and allow it to impact the lives of those around me with no holds barred.  To live each day fully and have very few regrets.  To experience all that God wants me to, grow and develop as a man, husband and father.

I hope this time next year, I am able to look back and see areas of growth that I have not experience before.  I pray that God will develop my character and skills so that in all that I do, he will be glorified.

In what areas are you looking to change and grow in the coming year as a man of God?

Growing up I really had no idea what the phrase “a real man” meant.  The day I arrived my Dad was not there.  As I grew up I saw my Dad for a couple of weeks, every three months or so.  He chose his job and other things over wanting to spend time and invest in me.  When my Dad was around I was never a priority in his life – work, friends and his family were more important.  The only male role models I ever saw were those of my friends Dad’s, a couple of Pastors and some teachers and none of them were interested in taking the time to show me what it meant to be a real man.  The TV shows and movies I watched gave me an idea of what being a real man were or at least what they wanted me to believe.

As a boy I felt and experienced the presence of God in very real ways.  I made the choice to follow him and live my life for him.  One of my biggest problems and still a struggle for me to this day is my perception of God.  I have equated much of how my Dad treated me to the way God deals with me.  The one message my Dad made clear to me while growing up when he was around was that my actions had consequences and this was in the form of me getting punished for something I had done wrong.  Growing up I have struggled with the same view of God in regards to sin in my life.

As part of my pursuit of what this really meant I turned to the place I was sure I would find it – the  church.  I figured if other men were in pursuit of God and allowing him to change their lives, this must be the right place.  Unfortunately I found other broken men who operated out of their pain and hurt.  Despite adding the label of Christ-follower to them, many were still broken and searching for the very thing.It became clearer that I was probably not going to find it in the world or even in the church.

God began putting men in my life from all walks of life who I began to have open conversation with.  I started talking and asking questions.  I listened and heard their stories.  I opened up the Bible and began looking at the life of Jesus.  I read accounts of other men God has called to do his work who were in some ways resembled aspects of myself.  God began opening my eyes and showing me what the world says makes a real man has nothing to do with what a real man is about.

The world will tell you a real man is a bumbling idiots who can’t make a decision, sleeps around and gets his.  Acquiring wealth, titles and trophies so you stand out and look better than everyone else is what’s most important.  Real men take care of themselves, they make sure their needs are met first.  Men don’t need anyone or anything they can do it all on their own and they never need directions. This same message has been sold for years and men continue to buy into it.

What I discovered is just the opposite.  Real men show emotion, put the needs of others ahead of their own.  Real men are committed to one women and take responsibility for the children they have helped create, the needs of their wife and children come first and they served them out of love.  A real man means you’re honest about who you are and where you’ve come from.  Admitting you were wrong and that you may need help if something is mastering you.  Real men share their stories; use their gifts and talents to glorify God.  Real men know their purpose, calling and live by a set of standards God has revealed to them that has long-lasting and far-reaching effects. Real men invest in the lives of others.

Thankfully God has allowed me to see so many aspects I was missing for so many years.  While I am not perfect and I continue making mistakes I have been able to establish the following set of core values that I attempt to follow each and every day of my life.

Knowledge – ccontinually striving to be better than I am, through various means, which allows my words to be honest and wise, and my actions filled with insight and discernment

Honorliving a loyal life of commitment to God, my wife, kids, family and friends that includes faithfulness, commitment, responsibility and integrity

Fulfillmentliving a courageous life filled with passion that allows me to serve others out of love and devotion

Impactall that I do I do for the legacy I will be leaving behind me 

Truthseeking to live a life that stands up for what is right and just and using my voice to silence injustice, evil and wickedness in the world

What have you believed to be lies that you thought would define you as a man?  How had God changed that?  What core values are you living by?

Joseph. We all know that he married Mary despite the fact that she was pregnant. How much more do we know?

Joseph was a descendant of David – Matthew 1:2-16, Luke 2:4

Joseph was a righteous man – Matthew 1:19

Joseph was visited by angels – Matthew 1:20-23

Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem – Luke 2:5

Joseph followed Jewish tradition and law – Luke 2:22-24, Luke 2:39-41

Joseph took Jesus and Mary to Egypt for safety – Matthew 2:13-14

Joseph returned to Israel with Jesus and Mary, settling them in Nazareth – Matthew 2:19-23

Joseph was a carpenter – Matthew 13:55

 

After Jesus was found, by Joseph and Mary, in the temple, at 12 years old, we don’t find another mention of Joseph in scripture. Because of this, we know that Joseph most likely died between the time Jesus was 12 and 30. What influence did Joseph have on Jesus’ life up until his death? I would like to challenge you to think about the influence your father has had on your life. Joseph may not have been Jesus’ biological father, but he acted as Jesus’ father while on Earth. What did this mean? Well, I would hazard a guess that Joseph taught Jesus scripture, sharing his beliefs with him. I would also guess that he taught Jesus his trade, carpentry. In doing so, Joseph ensured that Jesus could provide for himself and his family. Joseph also led the family, spiritual and physically. Joseph provided for the family. Joseph protected the family.

What can we learn from Joseph, Jesus’ stepdad? Every person has a father, but not every person has a dad. By “a dad” I mean someone who devotes time, love, and effort to the raising of his children. We have an ever increasing number of children who don’t have dads in thier lives. Think about the statistics you have heard about single moms. Mary could have been one of these (Matthew 1:19), but Joseph’s faith and obedience changed that. I know some of you are probably single fathers, I challenge you to be dads. Take an active part in your child’s life. For those of you who are married with kids, be a dad to those kids. If you are working 80 hrs a week, cut back and spend some time with the family. If you are not a father, stand up and be a father figure for some of those kids who don’t have a dad. Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Be a scout leader, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Campfire. They all need dedicated leaders.
  2. Big Brothers Big Sisters
  3. Church Youth Groups

There are many more ways to be active in the lives our our children, just step up and get involved. Remember Joseph didn’t have to be a stepdad, but he was a great one.

 

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul

Ecclesiastes 4:12 – A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.  Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

At some point in history, Satan whispered into the ears of men they did not need anyone else.  They could do it on their own.  Whatever they were going through, no one would understand and they would be rejected and shamed if they ever really talked about what was going on.

This way of thinking has continued over the years.  Men find it easier to stay quiet, suffer alone, and deal with what comes their way.  Privately enduring their own private hells – alone.  We hold onto our jobs, titles, money, relationships, and other things with a death grip rather than be who we really are.

This last week I got a message from a friend who had struggled with lust issues for a long period of time because of medical issues with his wife and their not being able to touch.  This was news to me and I was somewhat surprised to find this out.  This is not the first time I have experienced this.  I have had a number of friends who have confided issues surrounding lust, but other tough issues as well.   Unfortunately the majority of issues around lust/sexual purity have led them down paths they had never intended including cheating on their wives.  Sadly for some of my friends, they decided to share this information with me after the fact and when their lives were crashing down, the families they had were gone.

From the outside, everything looked picturesque – an honorable family and businessman who built a solid reputation for being honest, trustworthy, giving and serving.  They went to church, were active in their communities, and yet behind all of it they were struggling and no one knew it and they felt like they could not talk to anyone.  So they continued down the paths they were on, holding on tighter and hoping no one would ever find out what was really going on.

Men – we need each other.  We are not meant to go it alone.  We need men in our lives we can be real with, who will allow us to be fully transparent.  We need brothers who will call us out when we are being jerks, who will challenge us on our thinking.  Who will walk beside us and be there when we need them, but will not let allow us to destroy ourselves.

James 5:16 – Therefore, make it your habit to confess your sins to one another and to pray for one another, so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

The older I get the more I realize there is nothing on earth someone has not already gone through or experienced.  All men deal with lust issues and even though it may manifest itself in various ways, at the core of it, lust is lust.  At the core of it all, we need men in our lives to walk through life.  We cannot isolate and go it alone, that road to lives being destroyed.  You can spend a majority of your life building a great reputation and in a moment, you can throw it all down the drain.  Thankfully, there is grace, forgiveness, and healing, but that one choice can affect the lives of others for a lifetime.

Men – it’s time to release the grip, let go of those things, find others you can be real and honest with and start talking about it.  Men ask those questions, do not be afraid to, if you deal with it, your brother is also, and he needs you.  I do not want to go through my life hiding and doing things that will lead me down paths of destruction.  I do not want everything I have worked hard to do be destroyed in a matter of minutes because of stupid choices.  I also want to know if I do mess up there would be brothers there for me and would walk me through the process of restoration.

So what is your choice going to be?