Archive for the ‘Just for Men’ Category

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Preachy Keen

September 1, 2010

I’ve been writing this blog for almost two years and I’ve always been honest and genuine regarding how I feel … albeit usually about culture, the church, books or other people.  And, on occasion, I suppose I’ve been at least somewhat transparent  about what’s going on in my own life, too.

But, my main squeeze recently brought it to my attention that, over the last several months,  it’s been more and more of the former … and less and less of the latter.

And after going back through the archives, she’s right.  I’ve gotten away from what I’m passionate about, what I know to be enormously important, what I harp on and poke and prod others about – transparency … honesty … sharing.

I’ve gotten, it seems … a little preachy.

What I’ve been writing is commentary, for the most part.  On, as I said earlier, the church, other people or culture in general.

And, I’ve gotta change that.  It’s just such an easy trap to fall into … keeping the conversation/attention on other things or people and away from myself.  And, it keeps me from having to be too introspective.  From having to examine my own life and maybe sometimes be a bit critical or call for change.

The other trap I’ve fallen into is – in those instances when I have been observant and present and honest with myself  – in feeling as though every post has to be some sort of earth-shattering moral platitude.   Clever.  Well-written.  Linked, tagged, proselytized and search-engine optimized.  Perfect.   Something I’d be really proud of (hey, look … shocker, right? Pride, getting in the way?).  I’m too proud alot of the time to post something that’s not my best work … that doesn’t prove how smart I am … how insightful or sensitive or creative.  So, alot of times – and especially if there’s no “so, the moral of the story is…” to wrap it up with – I just don’t write.

And that’s wrong.

This blog was never meant to be a place others came to be “taught” anything.  How arrogant is that, anyway? To assume that every time you post something, you’re going to “enlighten” someone?

The Jones boys

It was meant to be a collection of observations and insights into my OWN life.  Something that some day, our boys could read … something that may help ’em understand their old man a little bit … illuminate their paths, if you will.  Something that would require me to be more observant … more present in my own life.  More honest with myself, my friends and my family. Something that would require me to stay engaged.

And, like I said … I’ve gotten away from that.

Funny thing is, I’ve never had a problem sharing my troubles or my past over a cup of coffee.  I’ve just never written about them here.   So, maybe it’s time to get into some of that.  It’s messy and it’s complicated, sure.   Whose life/past isn’t?  But, it’s my story.  And, it’ll help you (and ME) understand why I am who I am … how God has used babies and layoffs and depression and bankruptcy and foreclosure and cancer and prison cells  to shape me into who I am.

So, if you’ll oblige me … I think it’s about time I get started telling a little

Road_map_to_truth

more personal story.

That I start asking more questions.

That I get to know more of you.

That this blog becomes what it was created to be: a place to reflect … to spend time with other men who share similar interests and struggles … to lift each other up … to hold each other accountable …  to fish – for fellowship and resources and answers and truth.

So … fishin’ trip.  Next week.

Who’s in?

NOTE:  new site goes active on Wednesday, Sept. 8.

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The REAL Iron Man

June 20, 2010

Saw this video a few years ago at Fellowship Memphis and, my God, it just shredded me.  Still does.  An amazing, amazing story and I thought Father’s Day was an absolutely perfect time to share it.

Inspired?

Happy Father’s Day.

Now – say a prayer, call your dad and go be Dick Hoyt for your child(ren).

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Jailhouse Rock

June 19, 2010

A rock ... but not THE rock.

I hope that all of you fathers out there have a wonderful weekend. I’m so very, very, very thankful for mine – both earthly and heavenly. And blessed beyond words to have been given two boys as incredible as Jack and Charlie Jones to be a father TO.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Father, for the opportunity to have experienced a father’s love – both yours and mine.

That said, I thought I’d share this.  Found it earlier today and it really moved me, seeing what Christ – as their new foundation, their ROCK –  has done in the hearts of these men.  Alot of grace, love and forgiveness to be observed and celebrated, watching them with their children on their “Father’s Day”.

Tag:  Malachi Dads, Awana

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Taking Charge

June 17, 2010

Take charge - or he will. Of your days - and your nights.

I wrote some time ago about a young King David.  With Goliath, an army and certain death in front of him – and armed with only a few stones, a sling, a ragtag group of outmanned misfits and, of course, the God of the universe – he attacked.   He didn’t walk cautiously towards his enemy … which, when considering who/what was in front of him, would have been impressive enough, no?  But to think that he RAN to meet them?  Incredible.  How many of us would have stood up to such a challenge at all?  Much less welcomed it?  Without hesitation or fear? I can’t imagine a more perfect example of how, with God at our side, we should approach the obstacles and fears in our own lives.

That said, when I came across this video a while back,  I just had to share it.  Talk about someone who, like David, CHARGED his fears – sword at the ready.  Take two minutes and check this out.   Ya gotta hear what he says towards the end … powerful stuff.

So, fellas … how are you approaching your fears?

Are you on a stepladder in your wife’s closet, changin’ bulbs?

Or – are you strapped to helicopters and power lines, climbing around on a half-million volts, thirty stories off the ground?

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Jackass!

June 10, 2010

Yesterday morning, I was at Joazara in Murfreesboro, talking through some community group plans with a couple of friends from Fellowship Bible over (a HUGE cup of) coffee.   We talked about our aspirations and about the opportunities we wanted to create for our groups to serve.  Opportunities to serve our fellow group families and members, our local community and the world, in general.   Big needs.  Big plans.  Big talk.

Then, a few minutes later, on my way into the office, I heard this voice on the radio:

And then, tonight, when the kids opened up their Happy Meals (don’t you dare judge me),  I heard it again.  Two talking donkeys.  Right there, underneath the apple slices and juice box (sure – I could’ve gotten them the fries, but I opted for the healthy alternative.  I told you, don’t judge).  “He’s everywhere!”, I thought.   Shrek opened in 2001 and Eddie Murphy is still everywhere I look.

Now, suffice it to say, the guy has done a whole, whole lot.  In fact, he’s the highest-grossing film actor in motion picture history and is still one of the highest-paid comedians/actors in all the world.  But, the one thing that’s made him more money than any other gig he’s ever had?  Bein’ a jackass.

Now, granted, he’d slumped.  He’d recently made Bowfinger and Holy Man and The Adventures of Pluto Nash, for Christ’s sake.  But,  Eddie wasn’t starving. So, imagine how easy it would have been for him to have laughed or cursed at his agent and hung up the phone when he called with the opportunity to voice the character of a donkey in an animated film about an ogre.   Something that, on the surface and in black and white, probably seemed to be absolutely beneath him (then again … see aforementioned reference to one  Nash, Pluto … but, I digress).    But, he didn’t turn his nose up at the opportunity.   And as it turns out, the whole Shrek thing has turned out alright for him.  Shrek 2 paid him $10 million.  Shrek 3?  $28.5 million.   And those are just the checks the studio has cut him.  God knows what he’s made on merchandise and talking Happy Meal donkeys.

What exactly does this have to do with my small group and/or the church?  That we shouldn’t turn our noses up at any opportunity to play a role in the kingdom of God.

Because you never know when that role, that part, that opportunity that just doesn’t seem to be worth your time just may turn out to be the one that blesses you in ways you’d never imagine.  While you’re holding out for the ogre, the role of a lifetime – albeit initially even a supporting or seemingly insignificant one – may pass you by.

All that to say … and to put it more plainly … when the opportunity arises (and this won’t be hard for some of you) – be a jackass!

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Son of a Beach

June 5, 2010

Eisenhower's boys stared down death, stormed the beaches at Normandy and ripped Europe - and maybe the world - from the clutches of evil

I’ve spent a good deal of the last two weeks working on publicity campaigns for books on Generals Patton and Eisenhower … so, needless to say I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking and reading about war (the type you fight with guns and explosives, on an actual battlefield, that is …  God knows I spend enough time thinking and talking about spiritual warfare).   So, naturally, my mind went where my mind always goes … to the war going on in my heart and in the hearts of damned near every man walking.

I know, I know … another war analogy?  Really?  Does he think this is original?  Hell, I know it’s not original.  I’ve already done it twice myself.  But, they’re easy, they make a helluva lot of sense and on this particular weekend, 66 years ago, thousands of the bravest men this country (or the world, for that matter) will ever know stared down death, stormed the beaches at Normandy and ripped Europe – and maybe the world – from the clutches of evil.   So, yes … another war analogy.  At least admit that it’s topical.

Anyhow, as I sat working, reading, talking about World War II, I also stewed about things that were at work in my heart.  Things that were going on in my life.  And, as I talked to a colleague, I shared with him what I’ve long known and what I think all of us, as men, know.  Something I’ve written about dozens of times and have been talking about with other men for years.  That we’re at war.

Every moment of every day.

We have lust in our hearts.  We’re disappointed in our jobs and in our spouses and in our kids and in ourselves.  We’re angry that our lives haven’t turned out the way we thought they would.  We idolize possessions and status.  We harbor anger and resentment.  We’re addicted to gambling and alcohol and pornography.   And what we have to realize is, that in every one of those instances and a thousand others, Satan has planted a flag in our hearts … set up camp.  A place from which to operate.  A place from which he executes his plans … commands his troops, if you will.

Our hearts, in case you haven’t figured out where I’m going with this by now (and, surely to God you have … if not, keep that to yourself),  are Normandy.

And our sons storming that beach and willingly shedding their blood, as I

American forces storm Omaha Beach during the World War II D-Day landing in France in a scene from the 1998 film "Saving Private Ryan." (AP Photo/DreamWorks, David James, File)

mentioned earlier and as everyone knows, is what turned the tide … what won the war.  Until then? A hopeless proposition.  Lost.  Like me.  Like you.

Listen, dudes.  It’s like this  – you might think you’re man enough to overcome what it is that’s killing you a little bit inside every day all by yourself.  But, the sooner you realize one thing, the better off you’ll be – you’re not.

In fact, the manliest thing you could do is to own up to that … and just lay it all down.  There’s one Son – and one Son only – who is capable of invading your heart and taking it back for you.  And His blood’s already been shed.

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself …  2 Corinthians 10:3-5

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The Language of Love?

December 3, 2009

I was talking to a friend recently, who has moved to Dallas to attend seminary.  And, at one point in the conversation, we were discussing the admission requirements and our (underwhelming) undergraduate GPAs.

Mine, I explained, had been dragged down considerably by one thing – algebra.   I, of course, received only one B (that I can remember) within my major (Broadcast Journalism / Public Relations).  And I did quite well in english, history, philosophy and psychology.   But those were things that interested me.   I enjoyed them.  I had an aptitude for them – especially the comm. classes and english.  And, I spent time with them (now, don’t get the idea that I sat in my room night after night, studying,  and missed a whole lot, because I didn’t … in fact, I got phone calls and mail at our favorite pub – but, that’s a whole ‘nother post … anyhow, I digress … ).  Algebra, on the

Fractions! Aaaaaah!

other hand? I hated it.  Passionately (still do … and, in fact, the day Jack andCharlie come home with their schoolbooks and ask “Dad, if 18xy – 34y= 3/4 x, what is y?”, I think I may drive my car off a bridge).  It didn’t make sense to me (still doesn’t … and, by the way, after all these years, I can say that I

was right!  I’ve never needed it.  Ever.  And, before I drive my car off that bridge, I’m gonna tell Jack and Charlie that they’ll never need it, either).  I’m a right-brain thinker … I’m not wired that

NOT a picture of me.

way.  So, I had to expend alot of

extra energy.  Do alot of things I didn’t want to do.  Summer school.  Junior college classes.  Correspondence courses.

Tutors. It wasn’t pretty.  But, I did it.  I was desperate and I was after something.

Now, while some people say that math is the universal language, for the purposes of making my point (and there is one coming … eventually … at least in my mind) in a simpler way, let’s use another of the languages –  Spanish.

Learn Spanish in record time!

What would inspire you to learn Spanish? I can think of one really powerful incentive.  What if the woman you love, or your child, spoke only Spanish?  You’d learn it in record time.  Why? Because you’d be desperate to communicate with them.  You’d stay up late, working on conjugation, and adoring each word learned as a new way to express to them how much you loved them.  And, in being able to hear what it was they had to say to you, feel loved in return.  You’d learn the language because a relationship would be the reward.

As the conversation with my friend, and later, the book I’m finishing up, took my mind down this road, it convicted me.  Because, I would learn Spanish in record time.  I would be desperate.  I’ve been desperate enough to do alot of things, for alot of  things, over the years.  Desperate enough to work three jobs.  Desperate to save a marriage.  Desperate to save our home.  Desperate to find a job.

And, I remember how hard all those things were.  And how intensely I had to work.  And because I do remember, I can say that I haven’t worked nearly as hard or been nearly as desperate about the things that are infinitely more important than all of those others … my salvation … a real and intimate relationship with God … what kind of reflection I am of Him.

Do I read alot? Yes.  Do I study the Bible? Quite often.  Do I pray? Yes, daily – but not nearly enough.  Do I love the Lord? Of course I do.  But, do I do the things that are most difficult? That are against my nature? That I’m not wired to do? Things like giving generously? Forgiving? Sacrificing? Offering others grace and mercy? These things are the very language of God, man.  The language of love.

And, I  need to get desperate about learning them.  I need to do whatever it takes.

Because that’s the way He wants me to express to Him – and to others – how much I love Him.

Because I’m already loved in return.

And because … a saving relationship is the reward.

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Sorry to ramble.  I edit and am edited enough at the office.  So, this is my opportunity to just let it fly, straight off the cuff.  Me, uncensored, if you will.  I guess my point was, in a nutshell, that my mind just isn’t wired in a mathematical way.  But, I was desperate enough to get algebra done, somehow.  And, that I’m also not wired to forgive and offer grace …. but, I gotta be desperate enough for God that I figure out a way to do it, anyway. Don’t I love Him as much as I loved my diploma?  Don’t I want to graduate in my faith, too?  Ya know?

Hope all’s well.  Something much shorter next time. Promise.

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