July 3, 2012
I want to tell you about an organization that is worth checking out. It is called Third Option Men. The founder is a guy named Evan, and him and his dad were the ones who made our trip to Cuba possible. I encourage you to check out the website and/or Facebook page. The website is www.thirdoptionmen.org and just type in the name to find them on Facebook. The purpose of this group is to encourage guys to develop relationships that allow for accountability and more than just a Sunday morning type relationship that is far to common in the church today. It is about the type of relationship that Jesus had with his disciples, close and personal.
Far too often men tend to take their Christianity way too casually. We want the type of relationship that does not allow another man to get close enough to ask the hard questions or hear the brutal truth about how we are struggling in our relationships at work, home, and with God. Evan describes this beginning and often only type of man to man relationship of Christian males as the ‘awkward handshake’. The kind of relationship where we know your name and your favorite football team but never know that your marriage is falling apart and you might be struggling with an addiction. He encourages us to develop relationships that are real, relevant and reliable, just like Jesus and His relationship with others.
Basically, men have only three options in life. We can live for self, live for worldly gain, or live for God. Christian men need to choose the third option…get it? Third Option Men?
Living for self is easy. Looking out for number one is the way we are taught through most of life and the media. This is much like the “if it feels good do it” mentality. I saw a commercial the other day about a company that does cosmetic surgery and one of the women made the statement that if there was something that someone could do to make them feel better about themselves that they should do it at any cost. So if you think the way God made you is not good enough and that He made a mistake, a doctor can fix it and you will feel good about yourself. Sadly, surgery does nothing for that God shaped hole we are all trying to fill. So self-indulgence is not the answer.
Living for worldly gain sounds good. If we could only have more money, a bigger house, or a nicer car, we would feel better. Even if we could have bigger breasts (not men, but our wives) and less wrinkles, that would help, but you need to have the money for that. After all, we see how happy all the Hollywood crowd is with their plastic surgery and successful marriages and lack of drug and alcohol abuse, (Sarcasm). I actually saw more satisfied people in Cuba making $20 a month than I see in Hollywood making millions. Before you disagree, think about the number of famous people who are divorced, in rehab, gone broke, or even killed themselves. Jesus said it best about this option; Matthew 16:26, What good will it do for people to win the whole world and lose their lives? Or what will a person give in exchange for life?
The third option, to live for God, requires one to deny self and think of others. It requires you to build a relationship with someone who cares enough to invest time in you or vice versa. It requires you to give and to love and to get involved with someone to the point that you know what is really important and what can really help. It is what Jesus did with the men that He decided to hang out with. It is what we need to do as Christian men.
We took this message into Cuba and found that men there have the same reservations as we do in America. But when laid out in plain and biblical truths, it is undeniable that it works and is needed. Not the program or the book, or even the title, but the lifestyle. Third Option Men has a heart for those who are hurting and is going into churches and communities and countries to help men get over that macho attitude of self-reliance and teaching them to live for God.
I chose the third option. It is not easy and I fail often, but I have some friends who know how to help and care when I struggle. They too have chosen to follow God. God does not want men to be loners, but to have vital relationships to help us through that many paths that He may lead us.
Check it out…Third Option Men.
June 6, 2012
I am not sure why I am blogging about a word that I had to look up in order to spell it properly. I want to spell it the way it sounds, click, but NOOOOO, it has to be spelled like a french word or something. Anyway, I was reading in 1 Corinthians chapter 11 today about a problem that the early church was having when people got together in small groups and started being exclusive to the point of being snobbish. This is how the Apostle Paul states it, 1 Corinthians 11:18, In the first place, I hear that when you gather as a church you split up into opposing groups. I believe some of what I hear. I hear from people all the time about their dislike of cliques, especially in the church and how rude they think it can be. So I got to thinking about what this really is and how did it come to be in an organization like the church where we are to love each other as brothers and sisters.
There is a huge difference in a clique and a small group, as most churches call there Bible studies and fellowship groups. Small groups are very biblical and are important to the Christian life. The average Sunday morning church attendance in the US is 75 people. That sounds low, but there are far more small churches than there are mega churches. It is not uncommon in many rural areas to have only 10 to 20 in attendance on any give Sunday. From that, the average small group consists of 5-8 people. Many try to make their small group the largest in a church, but that begins to get into the topic that Paul wrote about in the verse above.
Most people only have between 2 and 8 people in their lives that they can call real friends. I am talking about people that they socialize with on a regular basis and have more than a casual relationship like you see in most churches. Most people who attend church together only see each other on Sunday morning. Fewer than half of the people who attend on Sunday morning will attend a small group of any type related to the church. It is one of the reasons for the decline of church attendance if you ask me. Before every family had a car and most lately 2 and 3 cars per household, it was most likely that someone attending church was going to a local house of worship with fellow family members and folks that farmed or worked in the same community. This meant that they really knew each other and were able to better help in times of need. It also meant that relationships were more than superficial.
So the small group was started by Jesus who picked 12 disciples to teach and hang out with regularly. Then the modern church started Sunday school classes for age appropriate classes and even had male and female and married couples and singles classes. It was very common to have one class have the patriarchal family members in it that class and it became the class that had the most pull when it came to decisions in the church. This was never the intent of Jesus when He started a small group, but that is how we came to the point of having cliques. It is those cliques that cause people to become divisive and others to feel like they don’t fit in, not only to a small group, but to a church.
I love small groups. It is a great place to hang out with people who I can get close to. People who share my struggles as a parent, husband, or whatever my uniqueness is that draws us to that group. It is not a clique to have a group of guys who like to fish, hanging out together on a regular basis. It is a clique if those guys think that they are more special than another group and begin to make it impossible for anyone else to ever fit in with them.
I have been able to bring people to my small group who did not yet feel comfortable coming to Sunday morning worship. Through the small group they have made friends and found it easier to then come for the regular worship time. That is one of the great purposes that every small group should be striving for. We do have some groups that are a little more exclusive by the nature of what they are talking about. Our recovery classes help people with addictions and although I think that they would make someone feel welcome, it would just not be appropriate for someone who does not have an addiction they need help with. That is not a clique.
So if you have small groups in your church, use them as a tool to welcome others and never to exclude. If your small group is excluding others just because they don’t want new people, it might be time to change groups or even churches. There are a lot of great churches out there and we should never let a bad experience stop us from making friends or attending worship on a regular basis.
May 30, 2012
Now that Mitt Romney has gained enough delegates to officially receive the Republican presidential nomination, the campaign is gonna get nasty. If you think that what you have heard up until now was bad, wait for what you are going to see in the next few months. These guys better put on their toughest skins and hang on for dear life.
I would be lying if I said that I totally hate the political season. I do get tired of the lies that are told from both sides. I also get tired of the smears of a personal nature. I wish that the candidates would just say what they are going to do and how they are going to do it and let us decide for ourselves about their character. But there has to be some way of knowing about a person’s past and who they associate with. It would be nice if the media would research this and put out an information source for those who want to read it. But that won’t happen and we, the voting public, will have to sort through the slants and angles that is called the news.
I guess what bothers me the most about this time of year is how I am almost forced to choose sides between friends. I know that I often voice my opinion in my blogs, but I try my best to keep it civil. I also feel that a blog is a place for thoughts, feelings, and opinions to be voiced. But sometimes Facebook, and yes I know I post this on Facebook, is a place where some really hateful stuff is posted that is very stereo typical and often down right ignorant and hateful. I am talking about people who I consider in many cases, personal friends. But they use Facebook to say things that I have never heard them say in person and it is often very decisive. I have seen this especially in the political realm. Right and left hate blurbs that are meant to somehow make you seem involved, often make you think about who your friends are. If they feel that strongly about their point of view and people who view things differently, then maybe the friendship needs to be examined.
Right now many of you are jumping to the conclusion that I am talking about you. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that I care that much about your stupid rants on Facebook. I care more about what they do to relationships. I never knew some things about some of my friends until they made that one really thoughtless posts that said something that lumped me into the group of worthless, lowlife, scum that you were talking about. And I bet you didn’t know that about me. Maybe we need to spend more time talking to those who are different from blasting a stereo type on Facebook.
Here is something that I know about differences. They are healthy in a relationship. My wife and I are almost complete opposites in many areas. We have been married for over 30 years even with those differences. But I never post something hateful about something that I know that she feels strongly about. That would hurt our relationship. Instead I appreciate our differences and have found that they make us a stronger couple. There are some things that I am passionately against that she likes, but that does not make her wrong or lump her into a group of hate mongers. I have found that some of those things make her far better at dealing with some situations than I could ever do.
In our political arena, we have become so polarized that we can see no good in the other party. But that is not the way our founding fathers intended it to be. They understood that there must be checks and balances in our leadership and that if each party used its strengths, together we would have a great country, like the one that we are in danger of losing if we continue the trend toward total one-sided hatred. Healthy debate is a wonderful thing, but stereo typing gets you to the point where nothing gets accomplished. Sadly we see this in Washington today. And I am sure that you know exactly which side is the problem (HAHAHA).
I have learned in my years of dealing with life and relationships that there is never only one side who can take all the blame. Sure there can be a degree that is greater on one side than the other, but never is it completely one-sided. We shouldn’t let politics divide us to the point of losing our ability to listen to other opinions and solutions to problems that need to be solved. And if we can’t agree that one side’s ideas are right for us, we don’t have to throw them into the category of evil.
We just celebrated Memorial Day to honor those who gave their lives for our freedom. I served in the Navy with people from every walk of life and never once did we let our differences stop us from serving the country that we love. It is freedom that allows us to have our opinions and to voice them. It is freedom that allows us to be different and still be Americans. So be careful not to get locked into the polarizing speech that causes folks to choose a side over a friendship. Strong friendships are far more valuable than strong opinions spoken behind the screen of a computer.
December 8, 2011
Tomorrow I am heading to Washington DC to see the Army/Navy football game being played there Saturday. This will be the second year in a row, and I am stoked to get to do it again. Being a Navy veteran and the son of a Navy veteran, it has always been a special game for me. What makes it even better is that my son is going with me again. It would be great if both of my sons, and even my daughter, could go, but that just isn’t possible.
I have been blessed to have a great relationship with my adult children. We can talk about most anything. Our favorite subject is their mother, but that is another blog for another time. We enjoy hanging out and have fun when we do. And this all started when they were small children.
I was definitely not the perfect parent when they were little. But I had a desire to spend time with them and to try to be. From the time my daughter was in preschool, we went to dances and father/daughter date nights and I rarely missed a game that she cheered for. My boys and I fished, play video games and I coached their teams when they played sports. I even played “roady” for my youngest son’s band for a couple of years. My wife and I tried to take vacations that had us all spending time together rather than finding a place to entertains us as individuals. Sure we had some vacation nightmares, but for the most part, we always enjoyed our time together.
So now that they are adults, we still find time to hang out. What is cool is that I see them spending time with their children now. Taking them to ballgames, cool vacations, and special events of music and plays. I can’t tell you how special that is because I know that these times spent bonding now will last a lifetime and will grow into a habit of spending quality time together for years to come.
Don’t think that your children don’t want to spend time with you. Parents don’t have to be best friends in everything, but they do need to be examples of how to have a good time with the one’s you love. Those things are priceless lessons that embed in the heart and grow to be memories that never fade and continue to be made every time you get a new chance to spend a special moment together. If parents teach children how to have a good time, then they won’t have to learn it from other kids who have no parental influence in their lives.
So tomorrow there won’t be a blog. I will be driving to DC with my oldest son to spend Saturday at the stadium watching a game that I have loved ever since I was a kid watching it with my dad. GO NAVY! BEAT ARMY!