Becoming the Man God Wants You To Be #4, May 17, 2019: Courage

If I am to become the man God wants me to be, I must evidence courage in the face of challenges. The word courage, courageous, or courageously appears 26 times in the KJV of the Bible. In other translations the word may appear as many as 116 times. There are many ways that we must be strong and courageous, but I would like for you to consider three: courage to confront, courage to change, and courage to say no.

In the King James Version the word “courage” appears in the following (20) passages:

Numbers 13:20 – And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes.

Deuteronomy 31:6 – Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Deuteronomy 31:7 – And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it.

Deuteronomy 31:23 – And he gave Joshua the son of Nun a charge, and said, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I sware unto them: and I will be with thee.

Joshua 1:6 – Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.

Joshua1:9 – Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Joshua 1:18 – Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage.

Joshua 2:11 – And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

Joshua 10:25 – And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight.

2 Samuel10:12 – Be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God: and the LORD do that which seemeth him good.

1Chronicles 19:13 – Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in his sight.

1Chronicles 22:13 – Then shalt thou prosper, if thou takest heed to fulfil the statutes and judgments which the LORD charged Moses with concerning Israel: be strong, and of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed.

1Chronicles 28:20 – And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.

2 Chronicles – 15:8 – And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD.

Ezra 10:4 – Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it.

Psalm 27:14 – Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Psalm 31:24 – Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.

Isiah 41:6 – hey helped every one his neighbour; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage.

Daniel 11:25 – And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south with a great army; and the king of the south shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand: for they shall forecast devices against him.

Acts 28:15 – And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.

In the King James Version the word “courageous” appears in the following (5) passages:

Joshua 1:7 – Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest.

Joshua 23:6 – Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left;

2 Samuel 13:28 – Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, Mark ye now when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say unto you, Smite Amnon; then kill him, fear not: have not I commanded you? be courageous, and be valiant.

2 Chronicles 32:7 – Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him:

Amos 2:16 – And he that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith the LORD.

In the King James Version the word “courageously” appears in the following (1) passage:

2 Chronicles 19:11 – And, behold, Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the LORD; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for all the king’s matters: also the Levites shall be officers before you. Deal courageously, and the LORD shall be with the good.

The Courage to Confront

Confrontation is hardly ever pleasant, but the Scriptures teach that, if we encounter someone who is in danger, we will warn them of that danger.  We are instructed, “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important” (Galatians 6:1-3, NLT). And in another passage, “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-21, NKJV).

In the Old Testament the watchman was charged with the responsibility to watch for any approaching enemy. If one was observed he was to sound warning so that precautions could be taken to defend the city. Notice how his responsibility is described in Ezek. 33:1-6, “Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’

Sometimes our attempts, to confront one in love to turn from their sins, are met with resistance or outright hostility. The Scriptures provide the example for further discipline if this occurs (See Matthew 18:15-17). In such situations, truly courage must be manifested in order to do what is right.

The Courage to Change

The humility to change, when sin is evident in our lives, requires courage. The determination to change, when our behavior is harming others, requires courage. The sincerity of heart to change when we are bringing reproach upon our physical and spiritual family requires courage.

The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr captures the essence of this courage to change (emphasis by underlining and highlighting added by me):

Prayer for Serenity

God, grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,

enjoying one moment at a time;

accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;

taking, as Jesus did,

this sinful world as it is,

not as I would have it;

trusting that You will make all things right

if I surrender to Your will;

so that I may be reasonably happy in this life

and supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

The Courage to Say No

It requires courage to say no when you are asked to serve in some way, but you know that “your plate is full” and that you cannot give any additional task the justice it deserves. Saying no in a conflict situation when you are a “conflict avoider” requires courage. And saying no to not enable inappropriate behavior of one you love takes a great deal of courage.

Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend have a great deal to say about saying no in their book Boundaries:

“Made in the image of God, we were created to take responsibility for certain tasks. Part of taking responsibility, or ownership, is knowing what our job is and what it isn’t. Any confusion of responsibility and ownership in our lives is a problem of boundaries. Just as  homeowners set physical property lines around their land, we need to set mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries for our lives to help us distinguish what is our responsibility and what isn’t” (pp.24-25).

“Some people become so accustomed to others rescuing them that they begin to believe that their well-being is someone else’s problem” (119).

“Dysfunctional families are known for a certain type of boundary problem called ‘triangulation.’ Triangulation is the failure to resolve a conflict between two persons and the pulling in of a third to take sides. This is a boundary problem because the third person has no business in the conflict but is used for comfort and validation by the ones who are afraid to confront each other” (p. 129).

“Teens need to be setting their own relational, scheduling, values, and money boundaries as much as possible. And they should suffer real-life consequences when they cross their boundaries. The seventeen-year-old who still needs to be disciplined with social media and phone restrictions may have real problem at college in one year. Professors, deans, and residence hall assistants don’t impose these kinds of restrictions; they resort to tactics such as failing grades, suspension, and expulsion…. When their ability to say and hear no is deficient, clarifying house rules and consequences can often help in the last few years before the youth leave home. Symptoms such as the following, however, may indicate a more serious problem:

  • Isolation of the teen from family members
  • Depressed mood
  • Rebellious behavior
  • Continual conflict in family
  • Wrong type of friends
  • School problems
  • Eating disorders
  • Alcohol use
  • Drug use
  • Suicidal ideas or behavior

Many parents, observing these problems, react with either too many boundaries or too few. The too-strict parent runs the risk of alienating the almost-adult from the home connection. The too-lenient parent wants to be the child’s best friend at a time the teen needs someone to respect. At this point, parents should consider consulting a therapist who understands teen issues. The stakes are simply too high to ignore professional help” (p.192)

Truths About Courage

Leadership guru John Maxwell says, “As you approach the tough decisions that challenge you, recognize these truths about courage:

  1. Courage Begins with an Inward Battle
  2. Courage Is Making Things Right, Not Just Smoothing Them Over
  3. Courage in a Leader Inspires Commitment from Followers
  4. Your Life Expands in Proportion to Your Courage

(The 21 Indispensable Qualities Of A Leader, John C. Maxwell, pp. 40-41)

Conclusion

Much more could be said about the attribute of courage that we need to possess as we seek to become the men that God wants us to be. But I hope these words have been thought-provoking and that, in some small way, they may help you with your Christian walk. For that is the purpose of this website.

Thanks for reading …

Randy

Becoming the Man God Wants You To Be: Volume 3, Number 3, January 18, 2019: Commitment

What is Commitment?

Commitment is defined by Merriam Webster as: “1. an agreement or pledge to do something in the future, 2. a commitment to a cause.” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/commitment). Cambridge English Dictionary says it is “a promise to give yourself, your money, your time, etc., to support or buy something” (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/commitment). The Urban Dictionary expands upon these definitions by adding, “Commitment is what transforms the promise into reality. It is the words that speak boldly of your intentions and the actions which speak louder than the words. It is making the time when there is none; coming through time after time after time, year after year after year. Commitment is the stuff character is made of; the power to change the face of things. It is the daily triumph of integrity over skepticism.” (https://www.urbandictionary.com/.php?term=commitment)

Under the word “commit,” the ISBE lists passages that use the Hebrew words galal, paqad, natan, and sim (Job. 5:8; Ps. 10:14; 22:8; Jer. 11:20; 20:12; Ezek. 27:24; Isa. 22:21; and Lev. 6:14). Also there are passages where the Greek words paradidomi, paratithemi, and didomi, are found (Lk. 23:46; Acts 8:3; 14:23; Rom. 6:17; 1Tim. 1:18; 2Pet. 2:4; and Rev. 20:4). Then, by way of explanation, it is stated, “In these references, “commit” is used in the sense ‘entrust.’” (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, G. W. Bromiley, General Editor, Volume One, p. 751).

Though the Bible does not contain the word “commitment,” it certainly does have a great deal to say about the concept of commitment. To convey this idea of “a promise to give yourself to support a cause,” The Bible uses words like “faithful” (Lk. 16:10-13), “doer” (Js. 1:20-25), “works” (Js. 4:14-26), “boldness” (Phil. 1:20; 1Thess. 2:2), etc. If we are to become the men that God wants us to be, we must be men of commitment.

The Heart of A Champion Foundation tells those that are enrolled in its Character Development Program, “It is challenging to be a person of commitment today because we live in a world where commitment seems to have little value. Yet, clearly, those who are committed to relationships, their jobs, and upholding a standard of honesty are those who achieve the greatest and most long-lasting success and personal fulfillment…. Your commitments are tested on a daily basis. You have been given great talents and abilities. But crossing the finish line will depend on your level of commitment. Quitting is always hardest the first time. From then on, it becomes easier and easier. Don’t quit! Be a person of commitment and GO THE DISTANCE!” (Heart Of A Champion Character Development Program, “Commitment,” p. 3)

Consider the following areas where we can demonstrate commitment and some examples Of people who have done just that  …

Commitment to What is Right

The story of Louis Zamperini is pretty unbelievable. He is perhaps most well known for being a Japanese prisoner of war survivor. But prior to his war exploits, Zamperini was known as an athlete who took up running in high school and participated for the US in the 5,000 meter race in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. In 1941, he was commissioned into the United States Army Air Forces as a lieutenant. He served as a bombardier in B-24 Liberators in the Pacific. On a search and rescue mission, mechanical difficulties forced Zamperini’s plane to crash into the ocean. After drifting at sea for 47 days, he landed on the Japanese occupied Marshall Islands and was captured. He was taken to a prison camp in Japan where he was tortured. Following the war he initially struggled to overcome his ordeal. In a televised interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network in 2003, Zamperini related that after the war, he had nightmares about strangling his former captors and began drinking heavily, trying to forget his experiences as a POW. While attending one of the evangelistic crusades led by Billy Graham in Los Angeles, he was reminded of his prayers during his time on the life raft and imprisonment, and Zamperini recommitted his life to Christ. Following this, he forgave his captors, and his nightmares ceased.

Later Graham helped Zamperini launch a new career as an evangelist. One of his recurring themes was forgiveness, and he visited many of the guards from his POW days to let them know that he had forgiven them. This included an October 1950 visit to Sugamo Prison in Tokyo, where many war criminals were imprisoned, and where he expressed forgiveness to them. Zamperini told CBN that some became Christians in response. Zamperini’s life story has been captured in the biography by Laura Hillenbrand Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption and the hit movie Unbroken.

“It is said that when we forgive, it is as if we are releasing someone from a sort of ‘mental prison’ that we create for them. This is true, but it is also true that we release something within ourselves when we forgive. When unforgiveness remains in us, it simmers into bitterness, and bitterness will eat away at your soul. According to medical professionals, bitterness can cause depression and even lead to various physical maladies. But when we forgive, we release that bitterness, and in so doing, release ourselves from our own ‘emotional prison’. A commitment to do what is right means a commitment to forgive others. When you forgive, you are embodying the greatest act of love and power you can ever know. So do the right thing. Go the distance in your relationships by forgiving others.” (Heart Of A Champion Character Development Program, “Commitment,” p. 4)

Joe Ehrmann is another example of one who has a commitment to what is right. Ehrmann has developed a program called Building Men for Others, utilizing his 13-year career as a defensive lineman in the NFL and his 10-years’ experience as a volunteer high school defensive line coach. He works to tear down stereotypes that are common criteria for manhood: athletic ability, sexual conquest, and financial success. He says, “These standard, consistently set young men up for failure. It gives this concept that what we need to do as men is compare what we have and compete with others for what they have. Ultimately, as adults, we compare bank accounts and job titles, houses and cars, and we compete for the amount of security and power that those represent. We compare; we compete. That’s all we ever do. It leaves most men feeling isolated and alone. And it destroys any concept of community.”

Ehrmann offers an alternative, what he calls “strategic masculinity.” In his definition, manhood is based on two keys: relationships and having a cause beyond yourself. He “reinforces these principles through stories and lessons about being a man built for others. Serving others, empathy, inclusion and integrity are preached. A code of conduct is emphasized: accepting responsibility, leading courageously, enacting justice on behalf of others. Team rules are unorthodox: no player should allow another student to sit by himself in the lunchroom; no boy is ever cut from the team; every senior plays; coaches must always teach by building up rather than tearing down.” (Heart Of A Champion Character Development Program, “Commitment,” p. 6)

Commitment to People

Clayton Lillard is an example of one who has a commitment to people. Clayton, while still an elementary school student, had a dream of helping children. Clayton discovered he could salvage old bicycle parts to build refurbished bikes for needy children. Writes Linda Owen, “It all began in 1998 when he found two battered bikes on top of a pile of brush in his San Antonio neighborhood. The thought hit him: It would be really great to fix up those bikes and give them to kids who don’t have one….  Since that first year, “Clayton’s Backyard Crew” has repaired and donated more than 600 bikes through area churches’ Angel Tree ministries, which give Christmas presents to kids who have a parent in jail. ‘The kids think the bikes are from their incarcerated parent,’ says Clayton, now 16. ‘That’s OK with me. Just seeing the excitement on their faces as they realize ‘My Daddy loves me!’ is the best reward.’ Whenever he can, Clayton makes sure they know their Heavenly Father loves them, too; and that’s why Jesus was born. ‘This was God’s idea,’ says Clayton. ‘He just allowed me to be the instrument that he used to bring his love to the children.’” (https://www.christianitytoday.com/iyf/truelifestories/interestingpeople/25.16.html)

Clayton says this on his go fund me page, “In 1999, at the age of 10, and with the essential help of my mother, Vicki Gil, I founded a community project called Clayton’s Backyard Crew (CBC).  Originally, we received bicycle donations from around the city of San Antonio and would restore them to be delivered as Christmas gifts for children of incarcerated parents.   Over the next 14 years we were able to successfully donate over 1,200 bicycles to these at risk youth.  We’ve been on a brief hiatus (I moved out of state for college and have since settled down in Austin, TX) but we are bringing CBC back into operation for 2014!” His current status shows $1,285 raised of $7,500 goal, with no donations made in 50 months. (https://www.gofundme.com/thebackyardcrew)

“So many people say they want to help those who are needy, but few ever actually do it. All around you there are people with serious needs – physical, emotional, spiritual. But what they most need is to know that someone cares about them. That doesn’t happen because of one phone call, letter visit, or extended hand of assistance. It happens when we turn one call, one visit, one letter, or one extended hand into a series of them reflecting a longer-term commitment. People need to know someone is committed to them. This gives them hope. Spouses, children, friends, the needy – all those in your relationship circle throughout your lifetime need to know you will be there for them. Your commitment shows them that there is at least one person who will be there for them. Nothing provides them greater human comfort. Remember, a champion looks for opportunities to make the lives of those around them better. R U Committed?” (Heart Of A Champion Character Development Program, “Commitment,” p. 7)

Ruth Jones is another example of one who has a commitment to people. Jones’ work with the Henry Paideia Academy in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has earned her numerous honors, awards and accolades, as well as visits from former Michigan Governor John Engler and President George W. Bush. From 1994 to 2004 she was responsible for taking the inner-city school from the brink of closure, because of poor academic performance to a top-performing institution.

“Jones began a multi-faceted approach to change. She began to address the constant sadness and depression she saw in students. She also addressed their practical needs. It was common for many children to come to school dirty, so Jones had four washing machines and dryers installed at school. Children were now able to have clean clothes, which kept them from what Jones saw as unnecessary embarrassment. Eventually Jones instituted school uniforms for all students, which she said made an almost immediate impact. The reduced peer pressure related to clothing translated into reduced conflict.”

“The keys to her success, say her peers, are Jones’ ability to care for each student and her commitment to give her students the same quality of life as children from wealthier neighborhoods. ‘We act like just because a child is poor, they are going to be able to do without all the things our kids have and be the same as our kids and out all right,’ Jones says. ‘We so nothing, we reap nothing.’ (Heart Of A Champion Character Development Program, “Commitment,” p. 9)

Commitment to the Truth

Mack White made some very bad choices that landed him in a juvenile justice facility in Texas for three years. While incarcerated he was forced to confront some difficult truths that led him to change his heart and become a more productive citizen. With the help of Mike and Carmen Studer, who asked Mack to come and live with them, he gained confidence and came to appreciate that nothing is impossible if you are willing to face the most difficult truths about yourself. Mack’s story is woven through the movie entitled One Heart. The website says this about the story that forms the basis of the movie and of Mack White’s story that is part of the movie. “Based on the real-life events surrounding a 2008 high school football game, One Heart is the amazing story of the players and coaches from Gainesville State School and Grapevine Faith – two groups from diverse backgrounds whose paths cross to create life-changing hope and inspiration for both teams. Two Teams. Two Cultures. One Heart.

“Reminiscent of The Blind Side, Remember the Titans, Hoosiers, and Chariots of Fire, One Heart is a moving story that transcends sports, touches the heart and shows how a simple act of compassion creates a powerful and lasting impact. One Heart demonstrates the power of unconditional love to transform lives. The film is targeted to both adult and teen audiences as well as the family film audience.

“At the conclusion of the movie, the audience will have the opportunity to join the One Heart Movement and impact a forgotten population of juvenile offenders. The One Heart Project is a public charity that provides a second chance to incarcerated and at-risk youth, through service partners in communities across America, by connecting those activated by the movie.

“The One Heart movie is being produced by Eterné Films in association with Birchwood Pictures…..”

“Mack White experienced first-hand what it is like to be a part of the “cradle to the cage” pipeline. Mack was born into the circumstances and cruelty of inner city life in Houston’s toughest neighborhood only to end up in prison, a two-time felon, at the age of 16. Mack never denies his part in this tragedy, but is convinced that there are ways to keep others from making the same choices and break the cycle. Kids born into cultural depravity are making adult decisions, life altering decisions, at ages as young as 10. With that in mind, Mack is on a mission to teach every kid in America that when opportunity is rare and life’s not fair, preparation is the only way out of his or her snare. Because of Mack’s leadership for good in prison, he earned a reputation that gave him an opportunity to be mentored by a Faith Christian School family who attended the football game that launched this movie. He now lives with this family in Flower Mound and in seven short months he: has obtained his Driver’s license, has begun working, has bought a truck, is working on his GED, has become the domestic spokesperson for Touch A Life Foundation, which works to saves kids in Africa and around the world from slavery, has become a consultant on the movie One Heart. He has recently signed a contract with Kim Dawson Talent and Modeling Agency in Dallas. Mack’s Character is woven throughout movie.

“Mack is now being mentored as a public speaker by Victor Marx.”

(http://www.oneheartmovie.com/story.html)

“Truth, no matter how difficult, is worth standing for at great personal cost. But when we are presented with the truth, we must act upon it. Every truth demands our response, our action. It takes great character to uphold the truth, especially when the truth is difficult to face. BUT YOU CAN DO IT!” (Heart Of A Champion Character Development Program, “Commitment,” p. 10)

Carlos Beltran, at the age of 17, was selected in the second round of the June 1995 Free Agent Draft by the Kansas City Royals. He made his major league debut in 1998 and in his first full year in 1999, he won the American League Rookie of the Year Award. Beltran had dreamed of playing in the major leagues from the time he was 5 years old and promised his parents, “When I get to the big leagues, I am going to buy you a new home.” After the end of the 2002 season, Beltran and his wife Jessica, returned to Puerto Rico, and under the guise of buying the house for themselves, sought the parent’s guidance in selecting items for the house. During a family party on Christmas Eve, Carlos and Jessica presented the house to his parents.

Commitment to Doing Your Best

Sheila Burrell had a dream to be an Olympic gold medalist on the track. She had many of the tools that she needed to achieve her dream: athletic ability, the coaching and the desire. The only thing holding her back was a commitment to do her best.

She did make a commitment to do her best. Sheila competed in the heptathlon. The women’s outdoor heptathlon consists of the following events, with the first four contested on the first day, and the remaining three on day two:

100 meters hurdles

High jump

Shot put

200 meters

Long jump

Javelin throw

800 meters

Sheila was a two-time representative of the United States at the Summer Olympics, competing in 2000 and 2004. Her best Olympic finish was fourth place. She also competed twice at the World Championships in Athletics, which included a bronze medal in 2001. She was also a two-time silver medalist at the 1999 Pan American Games. Her personal best for the heptathlon was 6472 points and she was American national champion on four occasions.

Sheila was disappointed at many of her early performances but she was motivated by the knowledge that there were many who had better records that she beat at the Athens games in 2004. She recognizes that her performance does not define her and she still pushes herself to be the best even though she has retired as a heptahalete. She now coaches women’s track at San Diego State

Drake Hills said of her in a recent article,

“Even in moments of adversity, like the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, injury couldn’t stop Burrell from finishing. After hurting her knee and no-heighting on her first attempt in the high jump, Burrell completed each event, finishing 26th while earning the respect of opponents.

Such character and competitiveness have spilled into Burrell’s coaching career, with stops at Cal State Northridge, Kansas State and Georgetown before she arrived at San Diego State.

“In the end,” Burrell said, “the goal is always for us to finish top 25, win conference indoor and outdoor, and qualify as many athletes as possible for the NCAA finals.

“The goals are the same.”

(“Former heptathlete Burrell ‘creating success’ as SDSU track coach,” by Drake Hills, San Diego Union-Tribune, June 4, 2018 )

Fallon Taylor was blessed with both supermodel looks and world-class rodeo riding skills. During her pre-teen and teen years, she set many barrel racing records and earned more than $250,000. When she was 17, she gave up her barrel racing and moved to New York to focus on another career she had fallen in love with, modeling. But after six years of modelling, Fallon decided that she missed her barrel racing so much that she moved back to her parents’ home in Texas in 2004 to concentrate on both interests.

Fallon broke her C-2 vertebrae in her neck in a horse accident in 2009 but after recovering from that went on to other rodeo successes. She won the World Champion Barrel Race at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in 2014. In addition to barrel racing she has also been a New York model and was the Axe body spray girl, made appearances on several TV shows including Two and a Half Men and started her own clothing company – ranchdressn.com with her two best friends in 2014.

(Source: http://www.wpra.com/index.php/taylor-fallon)

“It is the ultimate dichotomy. Taylor goes from thousands of dollars a day shoots in which she wears elegant outfits and spends hours getting her hair and makeup done, to throw on jeans and cowboy boots and riding horses inside a smelly arena…. Continuing in both professions is grueling, however, Taylor wouldn’t have it any other way. She remains committed to giving her all to make the dual-career work. This once child prodigy is still young a young star on the rise making every day count.” (Heart Of A Champion Character Development Program, “Commitment,” p. 15)

CONCLUSION

Think about what it takes to demonstrate commitment to what is right, to people, to the truth, and to doing your best. How will you use these examples to motivate your own commitment? John Maxwell tells the story of Michelangelo and the extreme commitment that it took for him to complete the painting of four hundred figures and nine scenes from the book of Genesis on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Very likely we will not be asked to make a commitment of that magnitude. Maxwell says Commitment means different things to different people, “To the boxer, it’s getting off the mat one more time than you’ve been knocked down. To the marathoner, it’s running another ten miles when your strength is gone. To the soldier, it’s going over the hill, not knowing what’s waiting on the other side. To the missionary, it’s saying good-bye to your own comfort to make life better for others. To the leader, it’s all that and more because everyone you lead is depending on you.” (The 21 Indispensable Qualities of A Leader, pp. 16-18).   

Won’t you be the man that God wants you to be by showing commitment like Jesus did when He went to the cross for us?

Thanks for reading.

–Randy

Becoming the Man God Wants You To Be: Volume 3, Number 2, September 22, 2018: Compassion

 

What is Compassion?

Compassion is “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.” (www.dictionary.com). The etymology of “compassion” is Latin, meaning “co-suffering.” Compassion involves “feeling for another” and is a precursor to empathy, the “feeling as another” capacity for better person centered acts of active compassion; in common parlance active compassion is the desire to alleviate another’s suffering” (Sherlyn Jimenez, see article on Compassion, The Encyclopedia of Positive Psychology, Volume I, Editor: Shane Lopez, Wiley-Blackwell, ISBN 978-1-4051-6125-1).

 

“It is a word often misunderstood. Many people think that to be compassionate means to give money to those in need, or to hug someone when they are feeling down. Those are aspects of compassion, but compassion is more than that. It is entering into someone else’s pain, suffering or hardship with them. It is stepping into their circumstances and providing comfort, assistance, or both” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program, Volume 3: Compassion, p.3).

 

Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lays down his life for a friend” (Jn. 15:13). If we are to be the men God wants us to be, we must be willing to lay down our own needs and desires to reach out to others who are in need of our compassion? Are you willing to do that? Please consider some areas where we must demonstrate compassion and some outstanding examples in each of these areas.

 

Compassion for family

Mike Magusiak was an executive at CEC Entertainment, Inc. (Chuck E. Cheese) for nearly 27 years. “When Magusiak initially joined CEC Entertainment in 1987, the Irving-based company was facing a negative cash flow and needed a turnaround. By 1989, with Magusiak as chief financial officer and taking CEC Entertainment public, the company began returning profits once again. In 2008, Magusiak was named CEO of the company and served until 2014 when it was sold to a private equity group. Magusiak also served on the board of directors from 1988 to 2014. The annual compound growth rate of CEC Entertainment, Inc. stock from 1989 to 2014 was 18.6 percent” (https://udallas.edu/cob/cob-news/Chuck_E_Cheeses_CEO_Joins_Faculty.php).

 

In his leadership position, he had a great deal of responsibility that required job commitment. But Mike determined early in his career that he would not allow his career to stand in the way of spending quality time with his family, making it clear which one he loves more.

 

In an interview that appeared in the March 2013 issue of D Magazine, Mike described the valuable time he spent with his family.Wendy and I have been married for more than 30 years. We are blessed to have three sons. Jason, 24, is a CPA working for KPMG; Matt, 23, is a senior at Ole Miss who will graduate next semester with a double major in accounting and marketing; and Nick, 17, is a junior in high school. My wife and I spend a lot of time at ice arenas watching two of our boys play hockey. I also enjoy golfing with our middle son, and we enjoy boating as a family. Every Halloween when our boys were young, my wife would take them next door while I changed into a Chuck E. Cheese costume and I’d take them around the neighborhood to trick-or-treat. My boys never knew it was me. In fact, one year they wanted to bring Chuck E. home to meet Daddy.”

https://www.dmagazine.com/publications/d-ceo/2013/march/meet-ceo-michael-magusiak-of-chuck-e-cheeses/

 

 

Karen Hughes was a trusted top advisor to President George W. Bush. She served as the White House communications director but in 2002 she decided to give up that position in order to spend more time with her husband, Jerry, and son Robert. Upon announcing her resignation, she said, “Throughout my career I have tried to prioritize my family while I have a career…I think this says that I can do what is right for my family, and continue to serve the President in a key way. I’ve always prided myself that this is a family-friendly White House, and I think this is a family-friendly decision.” Many Washington insiders were shocked by her decision. But Karen Hughes redefined what it means to put family first. She remained an advisor to the President, but she put her family first. She still treasures that decision, stating, “Other than marrying my husband, that decision was still the best decision I think I’ve ever made.

 

 

Compassion for peers

Krissi Holomon was a bright & beautiful teenager who died at an early age cutting short dreams of college. But she was a person known for her extreme passion. She so touched her classmates that the high school graduation was moved to her home when she was too sick to leave her bed.  The touching story of Krissi Holomon can be viewed in the HOC Foundation video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSf5WXmxCFs.

 

Compassion for those in need

Andrea Jaeger was a tennis prodigy who rose to the second-ranked player in the world in 1979 at the age of 14. But in 1985 her career was ended by a shoulder injury. Five years later she founded the Silver Lining Foundation in Aspen, Colorado to help children with cancer. She used her $1.4 million in tennis earning to launch the foundation in 1990.

 

Young cancer patients are flown by the Foundation to Aspen for a week of support and activities. Because of her experiences in high school she developed a heart of compassion for kids in need. When she was in high school, fellow-students, jealous of the attention she received as the result of her tennis prowess, would throw food at her in the cafeteria and push her into lockers.

 

“Jaeger’s autobiography, First Service, was published in 2004. In the book she wrote about her teenage years as a tennis player and her later decision to focus on serving God. All proceeds from the book were donated to children’s charities.

 

Jaeger has since established the “Little Star Foundation”, reaching on average 4,000 kids annually. She has moved from Aspen to a much larger 220-acre (0.89 km2) property in Hesperus, Colorado, where she will be able to expand her programs. [12] (https://usatoday30.usatoday.com/printedition/sports/20070309/c1scov09.art.htm)

 

On September 16, 2006, at the age of 41, Jaeger became Sister Andrea, an Anglican Dominican nun.[15] She reportedly left the order in 2009.[16] (Futterman, Matthew (August 27, 2010). “Where Are They Now?” The Wall Street Journal).

 

In April 2007, Jaeger and several former athletes, including Andre Agassi, Lance Armstrong, Tony Hawk, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Muhammad Ali, appeared on the American morning television talk show Good Morning America to announce their formation of a new charity entitled “Athletes for Hope” with the goal of encouraging their fellow athletes to think philanthropically. [17][18] https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=3077119

 

Oprah Winfrey describes Jaeger as a superstar turned superhero. [19]” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrea_Jaeger)

 

 

Compassion when it costs you

Todd Wagner is a successful business man with interests in technology and entertainment, but his greatest interest is in kids. He has dedicated many personal resources to make a difference in the lives of others.

 

Wagner is the co-founder of Broadcast.com and founder and CEO of the Charity Network. He also co-owns 2929 Entertainment with Mark Cuban, along with other entertainment companies. Wagner has his own charitable foundation, the Todd Wagner Foundation. After meeting with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wagner in 2001 launched his Foundation’s first children’s program, the Dallas chapter of the After-School All-Stars (then called Inner-City Games), a national program championed by Schwarzenegger that provides year-round technology, academic, sports and cultural programs for children in the nation’s inner cities. The Dallas After-School All-Stars now reaches more than 4,000 children with programs ranging from chess and art classes to golf, running clubs and math competitions.

 

Wagner also created a Minority Technology Fund that provides funding and resources to minority-owned, technology-focused businesses based in Dallas and has made investments in numerous companies including: Imaginuity Interactive, a Web site development firm; Abstract Concepts, developer of African-American communities Ebonymate.com and Dallasblack.com; and rocKnot, a software development firm.

 

Wagner has also developed the MIRACLES technology, education and life skills program that provides an after-school program for inner-city children. This program is currently in its fifth year and is operating in nine cities in conjunction with the national After-School All-Stars. The multi-year program begins in sixth grade and continues through high-school graduation. The Foundation recently made a grant that unites the MIRACLES curriculum with The Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s (BGCA) technology program “Club Tech”.

 

The Foundation has also provided funding to bring KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) charter school to Dallas in 2003 and to Wagner’s hometown of Gary, Indiana in 2006. KIPP Truth Academy is a program for students to develop knowledge, skills and character.

 

“An old parable teaches that it is more compassionate to teach a man to fish rather than to catch a fish for him, because if he is taught how to fish, the man will be able to sustain himself throughout his lifetime. True compassion that enables sustained change requires a personal investment from us. Whether time or money, change comes at a price.  An old saying goes, ‘no pain, no gain.’ True compassion requires us to ‘consider others above ourselves. ’While difficult thing to do, there is no act that is nobler. Others need your compassion, but it may cost you – in time, money, comfort or convenience. However the results will be life changing.” (Heart of a Champion Program, Compassion, p.13).

 

  1. Truett Cathy was the founder of the fast food restaurant chain Chick-fil-A. He took a tiny Atlanta diner, originally called the Dwarf Grill, and transformed it into Chick-fil-A the nation’s largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain. With $7.885 billion in sales annually (as of 2016) and over 2,200 locations across America, Cathy’s business success allowed him to pursue his true passion – helping young people have a better future. In 1984 he started the WinShape Centre Foundation, named for its mission to shape winners, which provides scholarships to 20 to 30 students to attend Berry College. Also, through its Leadership Scholarship Program, Chick-fil-A has given $1,000 scholarships to restaurant employees. Those awards have totaled over $23 million since 1973.

 

For Cathy, it was not just about giving, but about giving in a way that enables others to succeed. Cathy believed that requires sacrificial giving – giving to others in a way that means a personal cost to him – a cost that he said is well worth it. “We must motivate ourselves to do our very best and by our example lead others to do their best as well,” Cathy said. Before his death in September 2014, Cathy said, “I’d like to be remembered as one who kept my priorities in the right order. We live in a changing world, but we need to be reminded that the important things have not changed, and the important things will not change if we keep our priorities in proper order.”

 

For Cathy, leadership was about making a difference and a willingness to use personal resources to better the lives of others. His life philosophy is reflected well in his statement, “If you wish to enrich days, plant flowers; if you wish to enrich years, plant trees; if you wish to enrich Eternity, plant ideals in the lives of others.”

 

Cathy wrote five books: the autobiography Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People, a motivational book entitled It’s Easier to Succeed Than to Fail, the parenting book It’s Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men, an explanation of his business success in How Did You Do It, Truett?, and a final book on the significance of money in today’s society titled Wealth, Is It Worth It?. He also contributed to the anthologies What My Parents Did Right and Conversations on Success, and co-wrote with Ken Blanchard Generosity Factor: Discover the Joy of Giving Your Time, Talent, and Treasure.

 

Cathy was a deeply religious man and determined from the beginning of his enterprise that all Chick-Fil-A’s restaurants would be closed on Sunday. It was a decision made out of personal conviction and care for his employees. Realizing full-well that he would be forfeiting an entire day of business, he desired to give his employees a day free for rest, family time and the exercise of their faith. His business has never suffered from that decision and is carried on today by his son Dan, who became CEO of the business in November 2013 when his father retired. S. Truett Cathy died at his home on September 8, 2014 of diabetic complications at the age of 93.

 

Conclusion

Think about what it takes to demonstrate compassion in your family, for the needy, for your peers and when it costs you. What do you now know about compassion and how can you show others that you care? Now that you know what compassion means, what are you going to do to show what you know? Quite frequently in Scripture it is said that Jesus was moved with compassion by what he saw (Mt. 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; Lk. 7:13; 10:33, etc.). Won’t you be the man that God wants you to be by showing compassion like Jesus did?

Thanks for reading.

–Randy

 

Becoming the Man God Wants You To Be: Volume 3, Number 1, August 24, 2018: Integrity, Character, and Rebuilding Trust

What is Integrity and Character?

Much has been written about integrity and character. Coach John Wooden told his players, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are” (Quoted by Brian Biro in Beyond Success, p. 38).

 

The Heart of a Champion Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Colleyville, TX, that offers educators an innovative and effective approach to developing character in the lives of their students, says, “Character is the inward motivation to do what is right according to the highest standards of behavior in every situation. Character is the combination of qualities built into an individual’s life which determine his or her responses regardless of the circumstances. Character is what you do when no one is watching. And character comes from your heart …. You have the power to be a person of character; to affect your future and realize your destiny. No other person can make that happen in your life. You alone are responsible for rising to the challenge of being a true champion. Achievements, accolades, appearances, and performances will one day fade away! Ultimately, your character is the one thing that will last, and the one way people will identify you. Dive into this program and be a true champion” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program).

 

John Maxwell in his excellent book 21 Indispensable Qualities Of A Leader says that there are four things that every person must know about character:

  • Character is more than talk
  • Talent is a gift but character is a choice
  • Character brings lasting success with people
  • Leaders cannot rise above the limitations of their character

 

How is Character Improved?

Maxwell also offers a four-step plan for improving character:

  1. “Search for the cracks. Spend some time looking at the major areas of your life (work, marriage, family, service, etc.) and identify anywhere you might have cut corner, compromised or let people down.

 

  1. Look for patterns. Examine the responses that you just wrote down. Is there a particular area where you have a weakness, or do you have a type of problem that keeps surfacing?

 

  1. Face the music. The beginning of character repair comes when you face your flaws, apologize, and deal with the consequences of your actions.

 

  1. Rebuild. It’s one thing to face up to your past actions. It’s another to build a new future. Now that you’ve identified any areas of weakness, create a plan that will prevent you from making the same mistakes again.”

(Maxwell, pp. 1-7)

 

What Responsibility Has God Charged Us With?

If we are to be the men that God wants us to be, we must be men of integrity and character. God has charged us with the responsibility of being the spiritual leaders of our families and in order to do that we must be genuine and authentic. One author likens this role to a “point man” who takes up his position on the front lines of battle. I have used this quote before in this column, but read again what he says, “It’s a Herculean task to lead a family, but with the power of God supporting you, it is a tremendous privilege. If we are willing to become the point man in our families, we can count on God’s support and power. He’s looking for men who will follow Jesus Christ and burn their ships behind them. When He finds those men, He will take extraordinary measures to buttress, bolster and carry them along in His limitless strength (2Chronicles 16:9). May we be those men! And may He give us the strength to withstand the onslaught of His blessing” (Steve Farrar, Point Man, p. 231).

 

What Do the Scriptures say about Integrity and Character?

Men face many challenges in today’s culture. Satan has many devices to hinder our ability and our desire to be that influence that desires for us to be. The Scriptures are full of passages dealing with integrity and character. Notice a few of them:

Proverbs 10:9 “He who walks with integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will become known.”

1 Kings 9:4 “Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’”

Job 2:3 “Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.”

Job 31:6 “Let me be weighed on honest scales, That God may know my integrity.”

Proverbs 20:7 “The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.”

Titus 2:7 “…in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,”

Philippians 2:22 “But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.”

Rom. 5:3-4 “…we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

How May Integrity Be Rebuilt?

God said that David walked in integrity of heart. And yet David was tempted when he saw Bathsheba bathing, he yielded to that temptation and he sinned. So it was necessary for David to rebuild his integrity. In doing so, he asked God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalms 51:10-11). We can all learn from Job’s example. He said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.” (Job 31:1, NLT).

 

The Bible plan for forgiveness of sin for the Christian is simple: repent, ask forgiveness from the one(s) against whom the sin was committed, and pray to God for His forgiveness and for His help in the rebuilding process (Mt. 18:15-17 and Acts 8:18-24). But when trust has been broken and the marriage relationship has been shattered, the rebuilding process becomes much more complex. During the fifty-six years that I have been a Christian, I have witnessed TV evangelists, personally known preachers and elders, and friends succumb to this sin.

 

Much has been written to help those who find themselves in such a situation. One writer suggests, “I don’t know of any assignment more difficult (but more worthwhile) than the job of regaining a wife’s trust. She trusted you enough to marry you, but the bond of trust has been broken. So many men just walk away when they have failed and broken the heart of a loving spouse…. They walk away and take their shame and the knowledge that they walked away when they most needed to step up” (Stephen Arterburn and Jason B. Martinkus, Worthy of Her Trust, p. xi) (emphasis mine).

 

Arterburn and Martinkus outline a plan for rebuilding trust that involves nine “non-negotiables.” If these aren’t present of if they’re deficient, it will be incredibly difficult for one’s relationship to be restored. These items are: Spiritual Commitment, Honesty, Transparency, True Intimacy, Accountability, Open Review of Computer/Internet Use, Sexual Integrity in the Workplace, Restitution, and No Self-Pity.

They also recommend several “tools” to assist the rebuilding process. These include: The Five-Minute Rule, T-30 Journal, Financial Accountability, Twenty-Four Hour Disclosure Rule, GPS Tracking, and Wifecam. I highly recommend this book as is an excellent resource for any man attempting to regain his wife’s trust after admitting to sexual integrity issues (e.g., pornography, affair, etc.).

One of the key concepts that resonated with me and that is repeated throughout this book is the idea of being “intentional.” For example, “When it comes to trust building, free time can be detrimental. We must begin to use our time intentionally and channel it toward a goal” (p.105). In regard to setting boundaries on the job, “Because the work environment can change our persona, we have to be diligent in preserving our sense of authenticity and self. Your new self must be careful with boundaries, intentional with words, and conscientious about how interactions can affect your wife’s heart” (pp. 110-111). In regard to a husband keeping his word they write, “It is incredibly important for you as a husband to be intentional about what you commit to and how you communicate that commitment to your wife” (p.128). And finally, “The journey you’re on is changing you from the inside out. Character and integrity are being woven into the fabric of your being. As such, things will get easier. Truth, trust, and redemption will be more natural and will flow out of who you are, rather than having to be an intentional thing that you do” (p. 191).

 

If we are to become the men that God wants us to be, we must be intentional in building integrity and character. If we stumble and fall along the way, we must be diligent in rebuilding that character and integrity. Our eternal security depends upon it! Thanks for reading and sharing this website with others.

 

–Randy Sexton

A Christians Voice from Fort Smith: Volume 1, Issue 2 – July & August 2012

A Christians Voice from Fort Smith: Volume 1, Issue 2 – July & August 2012

“Heart of a Champion: Leadership”

 

Pat Williams is one of my favorite authors. In his inspiring and motivational book, The Heart of A Champion, Williams says,

 

“I believe God has put within each of us the capacity to accomplish far greater things than most of us can imagine. He has given each of us the ability to achieve greatness in some special area of life. I’ve learned that champions are not necessarily those who were born with special talents, intelligence, or beauty. They are ordinary men and women who achieved success in life because they worked hard to develop the gifts God gave them.

 

Last month, in this column, I introduced the theme for the next several issues – character traits that typify the heart of a champion. The first trait I would like to examine is leadership. What is Leadership? What does the word mean? John C. Maxwell describes it this way, “What makes people want to follow a leader? Why do people reluctantly comply with one leader while passionately following another to the ends of the earth? What separates leadership theorists from successful leaders who lead effectively in the real world? The answer lies in the character qualities of the individual person.” (The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, p. ix) One of the quotes that Maxwell includes on the chapter introduction pages is from Bernard Montgomery, British Field Marshal who said, “Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.”

 

I had the opportunity while living in the Kansas City area to do volunteer work at the Belton Freshman Center. At the time, the school was using a structured program produced by The Heart of A Champion Foundation. I am very impressed with the material produced by this non-profit youth leadership organization and have used some of their material as a basis for this series. Their stated mission is to seek “to transform culture by providing the necessary resources to educate motivate and empower students, teachers, families and groups in core principles essential to lifetime personal development and maximized performance.” As men who are charged by God to be the spiritual leaders of our families I think that this is a wonderful resource for developing the heart of a champion in our sons and daughters. I invite you to visit their website www.heartofachampion.org and check them out.

 

What is leadership? What does the word mean? With a little time spent in various dictionaries you will find that it includes, “to guide, to direct, to act as an authority, to exercise influence.” In the Heart of a Champion program workbook on leadership, they tell young people, “It’s time for your own personal commitment evaluation. Look over the items in the checklist and assess yourself and see what kind of leader you are. Most of the time, I …

  • … place the needs of others above my own
  • … know people are watching me to see how I respond in all situations
  • … am a positive example to younger people
  • … look for ways to serve my community.
  • … look to give positive direction to my friends and in groups

 

“Look over your answers what do they tell you about your level of leadership?

 

“What makes a true leader? Is it power? Money? Title? Achievement? A great resume? A loud, commanding voice? Actually, none of these things makes a great leader. True leaders are leaders because people follow them. Why do others follow them? One reason: character. People do not commit to talent, they commit to character. Leaders are followed because they can be trusted to make wise decisions, and because they are looking out for the good of the group rather than themselves. True leaders are servants who lift up others to make them great, even at their own expense. They are men and women of influence who have chosen to use whatever position they have in society to affect others for good. These are leaders with the Heart Of A Champion.

 

“Showing the way is what it is about in a life of leadership, and every one of us is a leader to at least one other person, whether we realize it or not. So, SHOW THE WAY!”

 

Several true-life examples are used in the Heart of a Campion Character Development Program to teach leadership in various life circumstances. Then after a short video describing these champions, young people are asked a series of questions to draw out discussion and ensure reinforcement of the principles being taught. Consider …

 

Leadership In Crisis*

Dr. Sally Knox, a surgical oncologist at Baylor University Medical Center, is an example of leadership in Crisis. Dr. Knox has chosen to step into the gap for women suffering with breast cancer. She is one of the most successful breast cancer surgeons in the world. She founded The Bridge, a non-profit organization, in 1992 to help get treatment to financially disadvantaged women. This work has become her passion.

 

We live in a world today in which leaders of quality and character seem to be in short supply. We live in an age in which our world is full of crises: world hunger, AIDS, teen pregnancy, and teenage drinking to name a few. It is estimated that 30 million Americans do not know were there next meal is coming from. AIDS is a pandemic problem around the world. Recent studies have shown that the number 1 reason teenage girls in the U. S. visit a hospital is due to pregnancy. The leading killer of teenagers is automobile accidents, the majority of which involve alcohol. It has been said that each of us is either part of the problem or a part of the solution. What are we doing to help our sons and daughters to understand how they can you take action in their own schools or communities in one of these areas? Make a plan to make a difference and then show the way!

 

Leadership Among Those Younger*

Sylvester Croom is an example of leadership among those younger. He made history in 2004, when he was hired as the head football coach at Mississippi State University. He became the first African-American head football coach in the Southeastern Conference. But Croom made it clear that, as proud as he was of his heritage, he wanted to be seen not as a barrier-breaker, but a leader of young men. Croom’s players have great respect for him and know that his number one concern is for them and their welfare, above all else.

 

Everyone is a leader of some sort to those who are younger. There is always at least one pair of eyes watching you to see how you respond to your circumstances and to other people. What kind of deposit are you leaving in those who are watching you? SHOW THE WAY for those younger! We all have at least one person watching us, to learn what decisions should be made and to gain direction. Think of one person who either is now, or at one time was an example for you as to how you should live. Think of one person who was a model or mentor for you. Think about the characteristics that made this person a model leader for you. Now list the things you want to model for those younger to whom you are an example and a leader. Remember, little eyes are always watching you. Someone is looking to you to show them how they should live. What will you demonstrate to them? Will you be the same kind of leader for them as someone once was for you? You can be a mentor. You can show the way.

 

Leadership Among Groups & Peers*

Derrick Brooks is an example of leadership among groups & peers. He has been one of the best linebackers in football since he entered the NFL in 1995. His passionate play and leadership ability have earned him the respect of teammates and opponents alike. His leadership, both on and off the field, was instrumental in turning around a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team and leading them to a Super Bowl championship.

 

How do your peers see you? Do you influence the people around you or do they influence you? Real leaders understand that every person is a valuable part of the group or team they lead. They don’t take advantage of their position or power. How will you make those in your group sense their unique value? How will you demonstrate the character that will be required for each member? How will you motivate them to give their best? How will you SHOW THE WAY?

 

Leadership In Civic Life*

Sam Johnson is an example of leadership in Civic Life. Sam Johnson Johnson served in Vietnam and became a prisoner of war. He now serves as a United States congressman from Texas. Like many POWs, Sam Johnson came home grateful for the opportunity to serve his country and continued to do so in many ways.

 

What qualities do you think enabled Sam to survive as a POW and also have made him an effective leader? What are the most important leadership traits Sam demonstrates? What do you think are the most important aspects of leading when you are in a highly visible position? Think About It! It’s easy to be a follower. But when we follow others, we had better be sure they know where they are going… and many leaders today do not…. In your community or in a part of your world, make a commitment to SHOW THE WAY!

 

“Great leaders become such because they have a heart to serve… The essence of leading is serving… Imagine for a moment you are a candidate for president of the United States….What would qualify you to lead the nation? What would be your platform for the next four years and beyond for the country? Think about the speech you would give on national television in which you will tell the American people why you are the ideal leader for the nation at this time in history.

 

Remember, great leaders are those who are committed to serving others. What can you do to make an impact on the civic life of your community or the nation? The only thing that can stop you from leading out in these areas is you. So step out and show the way!

 

Conclusion: Bringing It Home

Think about what it takes to be a leader in crisis, among those younger, among groups, and in civic life. From what you know about leadership from the examples we have studied above,how you can show others the way? What action will you take to demonstrate the heart of a champion by being a strong leader in your family, among your friends and family, in your relationship with your boss, and in your relationships in the local congregation?

 

Thanks for reading with me men. My prayer for each of you is a strong spiritual influence in your family. The strength of our families and of our nation depends upon your strong spiritual leadership! As Steve Farrar says in the conclusion of his excellent book, Point Man: How a Man Can Lead His Family, “It’s a Herculean task to lead a family, but with the power of God supporting you, it is a tremendous privilege. If we are willing to become the point man in our families, we can count on God’s support and power. He’s looking for men who will follow Jesus Christ and burn their ships behind them. When He finds those men, He will take extraordinary measures to buttress, bolster, and carry them along in His limitless strength. ‘The eyes of the Lord moves to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His (2 Chronicle 16:9, NASB). May we be those men! And may He give us strength to withstand the onslaught of His blessing.”

 

–Randy Sexton

 

(*Note: The material above is adapted from and used by permission of Heart A Champion Foundation)

A Christians Voice from Fort Smith: Volume 1, Issue 1 – June 2012

“The Heart of a Champion”

It has been my pleasure to publish this website since March 2009. I have dedicated the site to the memory of my late father, William C. Sexton, as a teaching tool targeted to youth and men’s ministry. I have focused teaching, targeted to young people, in a page I have titled Remembering My Creator. I generally focus the articles in this section, which I now call A Christian’s Voice from Fort Smith, to topics of interest to men who are striving to be spiritual leaders of their families. This month I address those men who are interested in being spiritual champions. I want to speak to those of you who are interested in developing the heart of a champion in your sons and daughters.

 

There is a book in my library which I purchased while still in high school. I have read it several times, used it as the basis for a Toastmasters speech, and drawn upon it for illustrations in sermons. I would like to share some thoughts from it with you here. In it, Bob Richards, former Olympic pole-vaulter writes, “What it takes to make a champion in the game of athletics is what it takes to make a champion in the game called life…every man needs the heart of a champion. It’s a quality of mind, a mental resolve, an attitude that turns a man beyond the normal and the mediocre to accomplishing great things in all walks of life.” (The Heart of a Champion by Bob Richards, published by Fleming H. Revell Company, May, 1959, pp. 27-28)

 

Richards opens the book with a chapter he titles “A Philosophy for Winning.” Summarizing the thoughts of this chapter, Mr Richards says there are three secrets to this winning philosophy:

  • Dream great dreams and have the will to translate them into reality
  • Be inspired by a great goal, cause, or challenge to see yourself for who you can become
  • Take God with you

 

Don’t we all want to win – to be “champions” in life? His association with great athletes lead Mr. Richards to the conclusion that ALL champions display 4 QUALITIES. Please consider those qualities and then allow them to motivate you to accomplish great things in your spiritual life. First, consider that the heart of a champion …

 

Refuses to Give Up!

Abraham Lincoln, though not an athlete, is an example of one who refused to give up. Born in obscurity and poverty, Old Abe tried unsuccessfully for the senate 4 or 5 times before he finally made it. In business, he failed 3 times and was in debt $1800 when he went to Springfield. But Abraham Lincoln had the heart of a champion and he never gave up. He was elected the 16th President of the United States in 1860 and won re-election in 1864 and has been recognized as one of the greatest of U.S. presidents. His law partner said of him, “His ambition was a little engine that knew no rest.”

 

This is a principle that I personally struggle with. I am tempted to give up when I encounter an obstacle. If I do not master the new skill or learn the new material after a few attempts I must fight that inner voice that tells me to quit. My wife, a music major, has tried on several occasions to teach me the finer points of tempo, cadence, beat and rhythm. I usually throw up my hands in frustration before I have fully comprehended the concepts.

 

But Champions NEVER give up. If you and I want to succeed, we must refuse to give up. Also secondly, consider that the heart of a champion …

Dares to Believe the Impossible!

The 14-foot pole vault, the 50-foot shot put, the 4-minte mile; all were thought impossible before they were achieved. In 1951, a year before the Olympic Games in Helsinki Finland, a Russian by the name of Kazantev astounded the world by breaking, by 10 seconds, the world record in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. He solidified his grip on this event by repeating his record-breaking performance. As the ’52 Olympics approached, everyone conceded that no one had a chance of beating the Russian. Everyone, that is, but a young American named Horace Ashenfelter. Horace just determined that he was going to give everything he had and that he was going to WIN that race. Horace stunned even his teammates when he ran a faster time than Kazantev in his preliminary heat. Then in the finals, in a race that changed leads several times, Horace finished ahead of the Russian slashing his record by 3 seconds. Horace had orchestrated the biggest upset of the Olympic Games.

 

Richards in his book says, “I believe the thing that has made America is the dream in the hearts of scientists like Edison and Franklin, the dream in the hearts of politicians who have been statesmen. It’s the dream in the heart of practically every person who dares to believe the impossible, who believes that no matter what has been done, men will come along to do yet greater things.”

 

We might not be great scientists or statesmen but we too must see ourselves as what we can become. We must see our POTENTIAL! We limit our success when we live only in the present.

 

Having refused to give up and dared to believe the impossible, thirdly the heart of a champion …

 

Keeps Going Even When It Hurts!

Emil Zatopek, in the1952 Olympics, won 3 championships, setting 3 records. In talking with Mr. Richards, Emil talked of the secrets to his winning. He trained 6.5 hrs a day, every day of the year. He told Mr. Richards, “I run until I hurt; that’s when I begin my training program. I’ve learned that if I can just get beyond fatigue, there is a reserve power that I never dreamed I had, and then I go on to run my best races.”

 

I don’t know about you but I have a tendency to complain and throw a “pity party” when things turn sour for me. How much MORE could I accomplish with the mindset of an Emil Zatopek?

 

Finally, the heart of a champion …

 

Gives Everything It Has!

In speaking of this quality Richards observes, “…I’ve seen boys, when they’ve given everything they’ve got physically and mentally, call on something spiritual that carries them to their greatest performance.”

 

Mr Richards interviewed Parry O’Brien on the night that he went out and shot the put a world’s record 59 feet, ¾ of an inch. Parry told Bob, “You can train your body to a peak of physical perfection… But when you get into that ring you need something just a little extra, something down deep within you that can give you that extra boost you need for world’s-record-breaking performances. I always pray to God, because I’ve found in Him that power that helps me do just that little extra.”

 

Yes, we must learn how to “bring home the gold,” “to call on everything We’ve got, down to the deepest spiritual reserve in our hearts and souls (adapted from Richards, p44).” I Don’t believe that we should pray to win but I DO believe we should pray for help to give our BEST!

 

Conclusion

As you go about your day, think on these things. Remember that a champion refuses to give up. He dares to believe the impossible. He keeps on going even when it hurts and he gives everything he has.

 

Do you exhibit these qualities in your professional and personal life? I challenge you to apply these principles in all areas of your life! Remember, “The way we react to our challenges determines the destiny of our lives, our country and our world.” (Richards, p 121).

 

There are definite character traits that typify the heart of a champion. In the coming months I would like to consider several of these character traits with you. Click on the link below to see the Topic Schedule for what I have planned for this page over the next few months. Next month we will consider the trait of LEADERSHIP.

 

Thanks for reading with me dear friends. If there is anything that I can do to assist in your daily walk, please e-mail me at achristiansvoice@sbcglobal.net

 

–Randy Sexton

A Christians Voice from Fort Smith – Topic Schedule

 

A Christian’s Voice From Raymore – Volume 2, Number 3 : Becoming the Man God Wants You to Be

Becoming the Man God Wants You to Be

On the evenings of July 12th – July 15th, it was my good pleasure to share this series of messages with a group of 6th – 8th grade boys. This series served as our evening cabin devotionals at the 2010 FC Missouri Camp. I appreciate the attention and the focus that these young men showed during the study of this very important topic! This material was adapted from Robert Lewis’ book, Raising A Mondern-Day Knight. To those young men, to whom I came to know more personally during the week I leave this personal message:

Guys, Thanks for sharing a little bit of your summer with me. I regret that we were not able to spend even more time together. I left camp not having gotten to know some of you as well as I would have liked, but I hope you will be back next year and we can continue to work on those relationships.

Remember the invitation that I gave you to come to the Teen and Pre-Teen Studies in Kansas City (depending on whether you have crossed that magical dividing-line called “13”). Watch the fcmocamp.com website for dates, locations and directions. Also, if you ever need to talk about any of the kinds of things that we talked about this week at camp, call me or e-mail me. If you want to write an article for my website, particularly the Remembering My Creator page, send it to me via e-mail.

I know our day’s were filled with lots of good stuff. We were tired at the end of the day. The days ran late and we did not always have the time to cover this material to the degree that I had planned. I am glad to share the material with you here and would challenge you to an even deeper study of it in your own quiet time with God. Feel free to leave your public comments or if you would rather comment to me privately, e-mail them to randy.sexton@achristiansvoice.com. I love you guys and my earnest desire and prayer for you is that you might be saved in the day of judgement and that you will grow spiritually here to become the men God wants you to be. I have no greater joy than to know that you walk in the Lord!

Your Friend and Brother,

Randy Sexton

Monday – The Need for a Model

It is so very important that boys, growing to manhood in our time, receive this message. Our culture is in deep trouble because we have lost our vision for manhood.

There are three important questions that boys growing up in our culture need to know.

What is a man? What process produces a man? How do you know when you’ve become a man? Most, if not all of you, have dads that will help you answer these questions and ensure that you become a man of strength, heart, conviction and vision.

Sam Rayburn, one of this nation’s most powerful political leaders, recalled fondly during his latter years the days in 1900 when his father took him in horse and buggy to the train station as he headed off for college. As Sam’s father bid farewell to his son, he handed him $25. Realizing the sacrifice that his father had to make to give him that money, Sam was very touched. But then his dad uttered words that Sam wound fondly remember at later times of crises in his life. “Sam, be a man.”

The Apostle Paul, writing to the church in Corinth said, “Act like Men.” (1st Corinthians 16:13) They had many problems, including conflicts among Christians who were pledging their allegiance to those who had converted them rather than to Jesus.

My suggestion is that we look at the Knighthood Model of the Medieval Ages to see what lessons we can learn about the process of becoming a man. But ultimately, we are not so concerned about making boys into knights but in determining how a boy becomes the man God wants him to be.

What knighthood offered that is lacking in our culture is a clear, biblically grounded definition of manhood, a process to embrace to achieve manhood, and a ceremony to celebrate a boys passing into manhood.

The “clearly marked path” from boy to man included 3 stages. The first stage was the Page Stage. At age 7 or 8, a boy went to live in a castle and learned of armor and weapons and performed household tasks at the castle. The second state was the Squire Stage. At age 14, a boy traveled with a knight who served as his mentor, instilling in him rigorous discipline. The squire served his knight in the most menial of tasks. The third stage was the Knight State. At age 21, a young man became eligible for knighthood and went through an elaborate initiation to confer it.

The three components that we will study in our cabin devotionals this week are: a vision for manhood, a code of conduct for manhood and a transcendent cause in which to invest your life.

Tuesday – A Vision for Manhood

William Marshal is considered to be the ideal knight, living at the peak of knighthood during the twelfth century. His courage and chivalry is illustrated by an incident that occurred in May 1197, as he lead an attack against the castle of Milli in France. As the battle burned strong, Marshal observed one of his men caught in the great fork of an attacker and hanging from the neck on a ladder that had been placed against the wall of the castle. Climbing the ladder by himself, Marshal freed his fellow night from his predicament. Historians say that Marshal’s valor proved to be the difference in the valor as his band of knights achieved the victory storming the castle.

Marshal demonstrated other worthy traits common of the knight’s code of conduct. He loved his family. He made provision for each of his 10 children and loved his wife, Isabel, greatly. Two influences in Marshal’s life account for such strong character. Marshal had a powerful mentor in his first cousin, William of Tancarville. He also lived in a particular kind of culture which offered a clear path to manhood.

The Scriptures speak of another man who demonstrated a similar strength of character and suggested a clear path to manhood. That man was Moses and the passage is Deuteronomy 11:18-21. Moses identifies the path. Fathers were to lay up his words in their hearts and in their souls and bind them as a sign on their hand and as frontlets between their eyes and to teach them to their sons, talking of them when they sat in their house, when they walked along the road, when they lay upon their beds and when they rose up. They were to write them on the doorposts of their house and on their gates so that their days and the days of their sons would be multiplied on the which the Lord swore to their fathers to give them, as long as the heaves remained above the earth.

Historians report that the impact of the disciplined, rigorous lifestyle of knighthood at its peak, harnessed the “unrestrained passions of masculinity” mostly for good. Boys were trained from an early age! They were given a code of conduct! Their progress from adolescence to manhood was marked with ceremony and celebration.

Modern culture, on the other hand, does little to harness the energy and passions of men for good. Our culture is marked by some alarming statistics. Did you know that 90% of major crimes are committed by men? Men commit 100% of rapes, 95% of burglaries, 91% of offenses against families, and 94% of drunk drivers are men!

Boys become the men God wants them to be in the presence of a clear vision of manhood. But, “where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained” (Proverbs 29:18). In the past there were three sources for this vision. The community, like the Nuer people of Southern Sudan and various tribes of Native American Indians provided extreme initiations. In the past, the family often provided a vision for sons as they grew to carry on the family name, the family business, family traditions, etc. But today we live in the era of the “absent father.” In the past, churches took a strong stand in proclaiming the role of husbands and fathers. But today, many churches have given in to the feminist ideology and abandoned the teaching of Scripture relative to the man’s responsibility to be the spiritual leader of the family.

Scripture (1st Corinthians 15:45-47) gives us two examples, one positive and one negative, that symbolize the essence of masculinity. Adam illustrates life separated from God and a failed manhood. Adam was influenced by physical direction and based on fleshly desires. Christ, referred to as “the last Adam” in our text, represents life in union with God and a successful manhood. Christ was influenced by spiritual direction and based on faith.

One way to look at the examples of Adam and Christ is to note the defining differences between the two. I would suggest to you that these are components of the answer to the question, “What is a man?”. Robert Lewis in his book states them in terms of rejecting passivity, accepting responsibility, leading courageously and expecting the greater reward. Let us notice each of these in order.

A Real Man Rejects Passivity.

The male of the species is naturally, innately aggressive, ready to initiate, explorative, and competitive to achieve physically and psychologically. But his tendency is to be the polar opposite when it comes to the social and spiritual realm. The man who wants to be what God wants him to be has to reject this tendency to be passive. He must actively engage his whole soul, body and mind in the pursuit of spiritual goals and objectives and in leading his family to heaven. In this regard Adam failed to intervene as he stood by and watched the serpent tempt his wife and scripture says, “she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6). Jesus, on the other hand, initiated action. Philippians 2:5-8 speak of Him, emptying, taking the form of a servant, humbling himself, and becoming obedient.

A Real Man Accepts Responsibility.

Adam was given a will to obey (“don’t eat”), a work to do (“till the garden”) an a woman to love (Eve). He failed to accept his responsibility. Jesus was also given a will to obey (His Father’s), a work to do (save the lost) and a woman to love (the church). Jesus accepted His responsibilities and they defined His life as a man!

A Real Man Leads Courageously.

God created man to lead. But in order for us to do so we must “master” our passions. The Apostle Paul said, “But I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1st Corinthians 9:27).

A Real Man Expects The Greater Reward.

Manhood is challenging but not burdensome! Manhood was designed by God to be a means of great reward (John 10:10; 1st Corinthians 2:9; 1st Timothy 4:8; 6:6). Those rewards include an honorable name, an “excellent wife,” children who look up to and respect you, the respect of other men an a satisfying and fulfilling life!

Wednesday – A Code of Conduct for Manhood

Perhaps you have heard it said, “You are what you are when no one else is looking.” How true that statement is! We can pretend to be something we are not , but that pretense will not fool God and will only lead the hypocrite into further areas of conflict. Brother Dick Modin had an outstanding message about “Being You” in one of his evening devotionals.

Robert Lewis, in his book, retells the story, “The Catch of a Lifetime,” that initially appeared in the February 1989 Reader’s Digest. In the story, James P. Lenfestey tells of an 11-year-old boy’s fishing adventure with his dad on a New Hampshire lake. As the story goes, the boy caught an amazingly large bass but hooked it two hours before bass season officially opened, so his father made him throw it back. One of the points of the story was that no one else was around, so no one else would have known, but the father insisted that his son abide by the fishing regulations and throw the bass back. Lewis says, “The incident occurred 34 years ago. Never again would the boy catch such a magnificent fish. But what he did catch that day was something much better: a lesson in moral character. For as his father taught him, ethics are simple matters of right and wrong. It is only the practice of ethics that is difficult. Do we do right when no one is looking? Do we refuse to cut corners… When a dad imparts a code of conduct, when he establishes boundaries and reinforces truth, a son is forever strengthened… (Proverbs 11:3)”

It is my hope and prayer that each of you has a dad who is imparting a code of conduct to you! I pray that you are seeing a father’s love being demonstrated toward you in how he establishes boundaries for you and how he reinforces truth for you! Because, my brother, you will be strengthened forever!

Let’s illustrate how our culture, despite progress in other areas, has failed to provide an adequate code of conduct for young people. In the 1940’s, major school problems included: talking out of turn, chewing gum, making noise, running in the halls, cutting in line, dress code violations, and littering. Today’s major school problems include: drug abuse, alcohol abuse, pregnancy, suicide, rape, robbery, and assault. What is missing? I would suggest to you that it is a clearly defined, biblically grounded, code of conduct!

The Knight’s Code of Conduct stipulated that he must:

  • Be Loyal
  • Conduct himself like a champion by showing courage and valor
  • Win the love of a woman by his romanticism and chivalry
  • Practice generosity

In becoming the man God wants you to be:

You have a will to obey. Ecclesiastes 12: 1, 13 defines that will as remembering your creator in the days of your youth and to live all the days of your life fearing God and keeping His commandments. The Bible is your handbook. The handbook ideals include: loyalty (Hosea 6:6), servant-leadership (Matthew 20:26-27), kindness (Proverbs 19:22), humility (Philippians 2:3), purity (1st Timothy 4:12), honesty (Ephesians 4:25), self-discipline (1st Timothy 4:7-8), excellence (1st Corinthians 9:24), integrity (Proverbs 10:9), and perseverance (Galatians 6:9).

You have a work to do. You will have the opportunity as you grow and mature to determine what gifts and talents you have and make an appropriate selection for your chosen profession. But you will also have the opportunity to discover your spiritual giftedness. Don’t be afraid to try those things that initially seem uncomfortable to you. It is only through the process of growth described in Hebrews 5: 11- 6:3 that your are able to progress beyond the state of being “unskilled in the word of righteousness” to “go on to maturity.”

You will have a woman to love. This will be one of the most important earthly relationships you will ever have! She will play a central role in your life (Genesis 2:18). One of your chief responsibilities will be to take care of her (Ephesians 5:25-30), to be the provider for your family (1st Timothy 5:8), so that she can “work at home” (Titus 2:5). This is a great need today – for young men to realize their responsibility to prepare appropriately for vocations that will earn them enough to allow their wives to be engaged in the day-to-day care of their homes and children!

Thursday – A Transcendent Cause in Which to Invest Your Life

The “conventional vision” equates manhood with what a man does instead of who he is. When men get together, they often introduce themselves by name followed very quickly by a description of what they do for a living (i.e. “Hi, I am Randy, I am a lawyer.”

In the conventional model, a man’s value is earned, therefore he becomes highly competitive. The drive to accomplish, to win, to out-think, to out-work, to out-earn the other guy motivates him in much of what he does! Often, this evaluation of man’s value creates a lopsided time management system with higher priorities placed on job-related tasks than on family-oriented activities.

Success is the goal in this model of manhood. A level of this type of thinking will be a natural outgrowth of the “work ethic” that God expects all men to innately possess. But When “climbing the corporate ladder” becomes the primary goal of a man’s existence, often a man’s marriage relationship, and his relationships with his kids suffer.

In the conventional model, power is the reward. And often this power becomes “intoxicating,” driving the wedge even deeper between the man and his wife and kids. This component is more appropriate to God’s vision for manhood when the word “power” is replaced with the word “influence.” Corporate success that puts us in a position to influence more people with the gospel is good (what Paul calls the adorning of the gospel in Titus 2:10).

The final component of this conventional vision is that success brings wealth and affluence. But the down side is that it rarely satisfies! Note in the passage noted below, Solomon’s evaluation of the satisfaction brought by material wealth.

If held in proper balance, this conventional vision of manhood is not altogether wrong, but it is certainly incomplete! It lacks a transcendent cause in which we can invest our lives! It is lacking in a mission which lifts us beyond ourselves. It is laking in a passion which stirs us to self-sacrifice.

Solomon’s commentary on a life lived in the pursuit of earthly pleasures and rewards is found in Ecclesiastes 2:4-11. He says, “I enlarged my my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself; I made gardens and parks for myself and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees…” He also says, “Then I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem…. I did not with withhold my heart from any pleasure….” His conclusion at the end of these experiences, “Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.” And then his conclusion at the end of the book, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment. everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”

In his book, Robert Lewis tells the story of Bill Smith and how, on a plane trip he met a man who reminded him of himself in his younger days. The point of the story is that men, in the pursuit of this conventional vision of manhood, sometimes lose touch with their families and after a time find that, what they have worked so hard for is at the center of their lives, but everything else is crumbling around them. In the end of the story, Bill Smith explains to his new friend the meaning with which he filled the “hole in his heart” that was left by devoting all his energies in pursuit of the three goals of his life: to make a lot of money, to meet powerful/influential people and to travel. His life-changing decision to follow Jesus Christ invested his life with new meaning.

Until you commit your life to a cause that calls forth sacrifice, that is significant beyond the moment and is truly meaningful, no amount of success will satisfy your heart! Jesus is that transcendent cause in which, if you are wise, you will invest your life! Jesus calls forth sacrifice. He calls us all to take up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23-24). Jesus is significant beyond the moment. He is the same yesterday, and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Jesus is truly meaningful. He the way, the truth and the life. He is the light of the world and those who follow Him will invest their lives with that more valuable than anything this world has to offer (John 14:6; 8:12).

This is important stuff guys! Please take it to heart! It was my pleasure to share this information with you this week and my challenge to you is this. Take the material that you received at camp this week and drill down deeper into it in your own quiet time with God. Read the scriptures. Think on them, and decide how you will respond. Will you grow spiritually from the the valuable instruction you have received this week and come to camp next year even stronger? Will you continue to build upon the new friendships you have made this week and to deepen the existing relationships? Or Will you simply move back into bad habits that you had before you came to camp and look back upon the week at camp as simply a week of summer fun? My prayer is that you will grow spiritually from your time this week.


A Christians Voice From Raymore, Issue 2, Number 2: “Slow Fade”

Last October, I published an article here that focused on the importance of “fireproofing” your relationships. Many of the thoughts presented then were triggered by the movie “Fireproof.” One of the compelling songs from that movie declares,

“Be careful little eyes what you see
It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade

Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you’re thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see”

(Sung by Casting Crowns; From the Album THE ALTAR AND THE DOOR

(Mark Hill); Copyright 2007My Refuge Music/Club Zoo Music WECS Music (BMI), all rights administered by EMI CMG Publishing)

This song had great impact in the movie! The song begins playing as Caleb sits down in front of his computer and is being tempted by Internet pornography. The camera cuts away to another scene in which Caleb’s wife, Catherine, is talking to her mother and says, “It makes me feel so humiliated…. When did I stop being good enough for him.”?

Sadly, Internet pornography is a prevalent problem in our culture and in the church! It is a “parasite” that Satan uses to destroy the influence of godly men and to break up faithful, covenant-based marriages!

“A parasite is anything that latches onto you or your partner and sucks the life our of your marriage. They’re usually in the form of addictions, like gambling, drugs, or pornography. They promise pleasure but grow like a disease and consume more and more of your thoughts, time and money. They steal away your loyalty and heart from those you love. Marriages rarely survive if parasites are present. If you love your spouse, you must destroy any addiction that has your heart. If you don’t, it will destroy you.” (The Love Dare, Stephen & Alex Kendrick, p. 112)

Statistics cited by Mark Broyles at the October 16-19, 2009 Fireproof Your Marriage Seminar & Get Away (p. 13) show:

  • 4.2 million (12% of total websites) are pornographic
  • 60% of all website visits are sexual in nature
  • Hollywood currently releases 11,000 adult movies per year – more than 20 times the mainstream movie production
  • Every 39 minutes a new pornographic video is being created in the United States
  • 87% of college students are having “web sex”
  • At a recent Promise Keepers convention, 53% of those surveyed said that they had visited a porn site within the last week
  • 8-10% of visitors to porn sites become addicted

Additional statistics show the pervasiveness of this issue. Steve and Bette Wolf cite extensive statistics, with the following caution, “We should caution readers about the uncritical acceptance of what is reported and repeated in both the public media and scholarly journals.” They cite the 2001 “duel” between the New York Times and Forbes magazine and the forced recanting of portions of a July 3, 1995 Time Magazine cover article. With this caution the following statistics are noted:

  • “…even the lowball Forbes estimate acknowledges that porn is bigger than Major League Baseball (2.8 billion in 1999, according to the MLB Commissioner) and Broadway theatre ($575 million in ticket sales in 1999, according to the League of American Theatre and Producers, Inc.)
  • “Worse, the problem is not confined to non-Christians or irreligious persons. According to a Zogby International poll, 17.8% of ‘born-again Christians’ have visited at least one sexually explicit website.
  • “A 2001 survey of evangelical clergy by Leadership Journal reported that 40% of respondents struggled with pornography, largely obtained through Internet; one-third acknowledged Internet pornography usage in the last 30 days
  • “The results of a recent study of Internet pornography usage by those identifying themselves as members of Churches of Christ recorded 4,365 Internet survey responses.”

(“Helping Christians Addicted to Pornography,” Truth Magazine Annual Lectures, July 11-14, 2005: The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, pp. 89-91)

As men who desire to be godly influences in the lives of others, let’s take to heart the messages of that song …

  • This destructive habit does not develop in a day!
  • It is the “second glance” that sucks you into the sin!
  • Pornography destroys one’s influence with “those little feet that are sure to follow!
  • “When black and white have turned to gray,” you have allowed the lines between right and wrong to be blurred!
  • The progressive nature of this sin: “thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid.”
  • The “it can’t happen to me” attitude can leave you vulnerable
  • Though we may think we are doing these things in secret, God knows all!

This short article certainly has not been an exhaustive treatment of the subject of Internet pornography. For your further study, I would commend the Wolfgang article quoted above. It contains extensive footnotes for detailed study of this issue.

Recognizing my responsibility to give voice to the good news of the gospel, I hope to address other men’s issues in future articles. These will appear on this site under the monthly A Christian’s Voice From Raymore page. I will also be launching, in June 2010, the Remembering My Creator page on this site, focused on youth issues. I have invited several young Christians to be “staff writers.” I invite you to pray for this effort and to look for upcoming articles.

Thanks for reading with me, dear friend. Have a blessed day!

–Randy Sexton

A Christians Voice From Raymore, Issue 2; Number 1: April 30, 2010

A Christians Voice From Raymore, Issue 2; Number 1: April 30, 2010

A Prayer For Peace In Our Families

We just completed our first year of publication of this blog. I apologize for the three-month absence, but I found myself needing to step-up my job search activities. After expending some time and effort, I determined that the time was not right to start a second career teaching at the college level, nor was the market sufficiently able to support a non-profit youth and men’s ministry. I began more aggressively seeking a position in my core area of Supply Chain Management (Sourcing and Procurement). If you know of opportunities, please consider sharing those with me. I pray that the Lord will use me to His glory in whatever role he has in store for me!

I began this article in November of last year when I ran across information on the internet about a man that history knows as saint Francis of Assisi. It is not the intent of this article to delve into the particular history of this man nor of the use of the term “saint” but rather to note the words and history of the “Prayer of Saint Francis.” With that as an introduction we hope to focus on the need for peace in our families in light of statistics that show division in the family. So the main points I wish to discuss here are:

1. What do the stats show?

2. What does Scripture teach?

3. What tools are available to the family wishing to restore the family to what God intended it?

To conclude I will then issue a clear call to action. Please follow along with me and add your comments by scrolling to the bottom of the article at http://achristiansvoice.com and typing your thoughts in the comments box.

Wikipedia says, “The Prayer of Saint Francis is a Christian prayer. It is attributed to the 13th-century saint Francis of Assisi, although the prayer in its present form cannot be traced back further than 1912, when it was printed in France in French, in a small spiritual magazine called La Clochette (The Little Bell) as an anonymous prayer, as demonstrated by Dr Christian Renoux in 2001. The prayer has been known in the United States since 1936 and Cardinal Francis Spellman and Senator Hawkes distributed millions of copies of the prayer during and just after World War II.[1]

The words cited by them are:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood, as to understand;

to be loved, as to love;

for it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen.

By googling I also found that this song was recorded in South Africa in the early 1990s by either Maranatha or Integrity Singers. I think it was sung by the Johannesburg Boys Choir

Lord, Make us instruments of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let your love increase

Lord, make us instruments of your peace,

Walls of pride and prejudice shall cease

When we are your instruments of peace.

Where there is hatred, we will show his love

Where there is injury, we will never judge

Where there is striving, we will speak his peace

To the millions crying for release,

We will be his instruments of peace

Lord, Make us instruments of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let your love increase

Lord, make us instruments of your peace,

Walls of pride and prejudice shall cease

When we are your instruments of peace.

Where there is blindness, we will pray for sight

where there is darkness, we will shine his light

Where there is sadness, we will bear their grief

To the millions crying for relief,

We will be your instruments of peace.

Whichever version you choose to use, it conveys great ideals. It verbalizes a passion to seek peace. It describes the pursuit of peace as a personal responsibility not something that will happen without effort.

What Do The Statistics Show?

Sadly, the statistics show families that are broken and divided. In their book, Reaching A Generation For Christ, Richard Dunn and Mark Senter III (p. 489) site research from The Dad Difference by J. McDowell and N. Wakefield that says that one in four teenagers now indicate that they have never had a meaningful conversation with their fathers. Citing parental absence and conflict as a contributing factor as to why today’s teens are hurting, the authors say (pp. 512-513), “Many of today’s teenagers are left to parent themselves. If they are not from the 40 percent of young people who come from broken homes, they most likely come from homes where both parents go to work. This makes for a home life that is often characterized by busy schedules, chronic fatigue, and weary battles of discord and dissension. Parent-adolescent conflict occurs in all families some of the time and in some families most of the time. Sadly, however, the latter category is growing.”

The “National Fathering Profile” published by Headfirst Ministries and Gary Bauer are also cited (pp. 491-492) in raising “a pointed question about the cost of the national neglect of our children. ‘What are we saying to our children if we allow them to spend more time watching television by the time they are 6 than they will spend talking with their fathers the rest of their lives?” (Learn to Discern by R. G. DeMoss, p. 14)

I heard my good brother Ken McDaniel cite an alarming statistic in a great lesson, “Parenting – A Blessing With Responsibilities” Tuesday night of this week in a Gospel Meeting with the County Line Church of Christ in St. Joseph, MO. Brother McDaniel astutely observed that we often overestimate the time that we give to our children. As evidence he cited the results of a recent experiment where microphones were clipped to children to record the verbal interactions with their fathers during a day. The shocking result of that experiment showed that, on average, a father had 3 interactions, totaling a mere 37 seconds per day with his child.

What Does Scripture Teach?

Scripture teaches that in order for peace to reign in the family, the members of it must respect God’s design of the family and the role that He has given to each to fulfill. As Brother L. A. Stauffer observes,

“Other than the individual, the oldest, the smallest, the closest, and the most basic unit of society is the family. Families, therefore, form the building blocks of a community, a nation, a civilization. As families go, so fo the city, the country, and the world. When, for example, love, respect, honesty, responsibility, subjection, fairness – the bonding elements of the family – are not taught in the home, how can they possibly exist in society? No nation can long survive the absence of these fundamentals in family life; they are the basis of all human relationships.” (Family Life: A Biblical Perspective, p. 2)

Marriage, as God designed it, is one woman for one man for life (Matthew 19:4-5). In God’s design, the husband is the provider (Genesis 3:19; 1st Timothy 5:8 ) and the spiritual leader of the family (Joshua 24:15; 1st Corinthians 16:15). In God’s design, the wife is subject to the husband (1st Corinthians 11:3, 8-10 ) and is the manager of the household (1st Timothy 5:13-14; Titus 2:5). In God’s design the parents are the instructors and disciplinarians of their children (Proverbs 22:6).

As Brother McDaniel so ably pointed out in his parenting lesson, God who gives children as a “blessing” or “heritage” has also given instruction for their “care and feeding.” This blessing comes with responsibilities. As Brother Stauffer says,

“This responsibility is stated so simply, and yet so poignantly, in the familiar proverb ‘Train up a child in the way he should go, And even when he is old he will not depart from it (Prov. 22:6.)

Three thoughts are taught in this verse about children. First, there is a way children should or ought to go…. Second, training is essential if children are to go the way they should. Training involves both instruction and discipline…. Finally, the proverb teaches that the most lasting impressions upon man are the trainings he received from his youth. (IBID, p. 52)

What tools are available to the family wishing to restore the family to what God intended it?

Obviously, the number one tool available to the family wishing to restore the family to what God intended is His Word. Following the plan for the family, as God designed it, is the first key to this restoration. In conjunction with carefully studying the pattern of Scripture, pray to the God of Heaven who created us in His image and who desires to have an intimate relationship with us.

Other resources that can be used as an aid to your number one tool, pickup a book or two written by one who has a biblical perspective. I highly recommend L. A. Stauffer’s workbook from which I quote again,

“Husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, children must all listen to God who created them, believe that he knew what he was doing, and resolve to fulfill their roles in family life. This study is designed to help each one learn the place that God has assigned him or her in the home. May he help all to accept that place by faith.” (IBID, p. 5)

A Clear Call To Action

I have made some rather bold assumptions in writing this article. I have assumed that you, the reader, are a Christian and that you accept the authority of the New Testament Scriptures as your guide for living. If that does not describe YOU and you have NOT made Jesus Christ the Lord of your life, that is the first step that you must take.

Recognizing Him as the author of everlasting life, make the decision to repent, that is turn from fulfilling your own desires to serving Him. Confess him before others and be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 8:35-39; Mark 16:15-16; Romans 10:9-10; 1st Peter 3:21).

Having done this, identify yourself with a local congregation of God’s people who will help to encourage you and will provide additional resources for your growth and development as an individual and as a family. Being part of a spiritual family is one of the many blessings in Christ (1st John 1:5-10).

We, who recognize God as the designer of the universe and of the family, must call upon all of our energy and all of our influence to counter the forces that are attacking our families. Won’t you join with me in helping fathers and mothers to teach, train and discipline their children, not abdicate these God-given responsibilities. Help fight the evil and corrupt influence of evolution, a philosophy that promotes the idea that man is nothing more than a thinking ape or gorilla and therefore should be free to follow his “instincts” to do as he pleases. Enlist in the fight against humanism, an increasingly pervasive ideology in our culture that proposes that all wisdom originates with man and for man, and therefore it is totally up to him to decide what is good and pleasurable and beneficial.

Finally, if there is anything that I can do to assist you, please post your comment here or send me a private e-mail to randy.sexton@achristiansvoice.com.

Thanks for reading with me, dear friend. Have a blessed day!

–Randy Sexton

ACV From Raymore, Issue: 1, Number 14: “The Pursuit”

A Christian’s Voice From Raymore – January 2, 2010

The Pursuit

I just finished reading a compelling and motivating little book. Only 197 pages in length, it is packed with engaging stories and stirring quotes that illustrate the things that he learned from his mentor. Pat Williams began his business career, as general manager of the minor league Spartanburg Phillies in 1965. Mr. R. E. Littlejohn, who owned the Spartanburg team, took Pat under his wing and taught him many important lessons. He says, “From watching his life, I learned the difference between knowledge and wisdom. I learned that knowledge likes to speak; wisdom prefers to listen. Knowledge takes things apart; wisdom puts things back together. Knowledge prides itself on achievements; wisdom humbly thirsts to learn more.” Realizing a responsibility to give back, he continues, “In recent years, I’ve become a mentor to others, just as Mr. Littlejohn was to me…. I have distilled the most important lessons I learned from Mr. Littlejohn into six key wisdom principles:

  • Control what you can (let go of everything else).
  • Be patient.
  • Pay your dues (you need to have experience).
  • Keep it simple.
  • Don’t run from your problems (they give you an opportunity to sell yourselves to others).
  • Pay attention to the little things.”

(The Pursuit by Pat Williams, pages 12-13)

Consider the application of these six principles to our spiritual pursuit ….

CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN

You cannot control how others respond to the gospel. You must be busy about planting the seed and leave the increase to God. The same gospel may soften a heart that is good and honest but harden one that is determined to follow his own desires.

The zeal of a new convert may blind his eyes to the faults in others. My father wrote in his autobiography, “Six months after my conversion, I fell away, stopped attending and became concerned about what seemed to me to be “inconsistencies” between what some members said and did. Looking back I see that there were a number of things which contributed to me falling away, however. There was much that I didn’t understand; and I had over estimated the purity of character of some who claimed to be “faithful” members. One year after my baptism, I realized that there were and always will be “human weaknesses” in character. Also, I came to recognize that it behooved me to do first what I know to be right, and then I could go about trying to correct wrong that I saw in others.”

BE PATIENT

Patience is hard to learn but it is necessary if we are to grow spiritually. We cannot open a bottle of “spiritual knowledge,” uncork our brains and pour in enough to immediately answer any and every question that might be asked us in a study. Wisdom requires a lifetime of acquiring and applying knowledge to the situations we encounter. Consistent study, prayer and meditation over time is all that is required! God does not require much, just our all; all of your soul, all of your body and all of your mind (Matthew 22:37) .

PAY YOUR DUES

The “school of hard knocks” is the phrase that we sometimes use to refer to the experiences that teach one the lessons of life. These lessons usually come at a great price, measured in terms of sacrifices, mistakes made and damages done to pride along the way. Williams says, “Aldous Huxley observed, ‘Experience is not what happens to a man. It’s what a man does with what happens to him.’ Experience doesn’t truly become a learning experience until you reflect on it, analyze it and understand it (p. 85).”

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Williams points out that our lives become so complicated because we have so much “stuff” that we accumulate thinking it will make us happy! He suggests that our pursuit ought to be characterized by an attempt to simplify our lives. He says, ” It’s all about time spent with family and friends, time spent in fellowship with God, time spent enjoying life and discovering life’s deeper meaning. If we want to experience rich and rewarding lives, we need to clear out the clutter and simplify, simplify! (p.98)”

The gospel of Jesus Christ is simple. The plan of salvation is simple. But sometimes we complicate them with our attempts to make them fit our lifestyles. When we ought to yield ourselves in complete obedience to the gospel and allow it to mold our lives, we often try to have it the other way around. Because we have failed to mold our lives to God’s standard on marriage we come up a set of convoluted rules to explain when divorce and remarriage are acceptable. Because we fail to yield to God’s boundaries that define male and female roles, we formulate elaborate explanations of plain passages.

DON’T RUN FROM YOUR PROBLEMS

Pat Williams describes a particularly disastrous end to a promotion, when he was General Manager of the minor league Spartanburg Phillies baseball team. Describing the lesson learned, he said, “It seems counter-intuitive, but instead of running away from our problems, we should run to them. If we face our problems, embrace our problems, and solve them, we’ll show the world what we’re made of and what we can do. It takes courage to face our problems and character to embrace our problems. I’ve never known a problem solver who didn’t possess these traits (p.115).”

The opportunity to grow and develop often accompanies times when we must explain ourselves to others after taking a stand on a particular issue. There may be issues on which we have taken a position without having fully studied the issue for ourselves. We come to our values through a combination of forces and from time to time we need to do a “gut check” that may cause us to take another and perhaps closer look at our beliefs.

PAY ATTENTION TO THE LITTLE THINGS

Occasionally we fall into the trap of thinking that it is only the big decisions in our lives that are important. Life is really a series of small decisions made consistently over time. Novelist James Jones, who wrote From Here To Eternity, was once asked “How do you write a novel?” He replied, “It’s simple. You write one page every day and at the end of the year you have 365 pages.” Williams says, “Our choices lead us ro places we never expect to go. The right choices could set us on the path to unimaginable success and happiness. The wrong choices could destroy our lives. The next choice you make could trigger a chain of circumstances that could put you in the White House — or in prison. So we dare not overlook the little things. We need to maintain our character and integrity, even in the smallest things. If we refuse to tell even a little white lie, then we’ll never be convicted of perjury. If we vow never to steal even a paper clip, then we’ll never be convicted of embezzlement. People who maintain their integrity in the small things can be trusted in the big things (p. 155).”

In the closing chapter of The Pursuit, Williams says, “After spending time with Mr. Littlejohn, I always came away feeling transformed in two important ways: First, I felt confident to face my problems and make good decisions. Second, I felt empowered to handle any situation.” One of the many great quotes in the book is from Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” How do you make people feel that you mentor in the faith? Do you make them feel confident and empowered?

Pat Williams closes his book with the encouragement to be aware of your influence. He says, “Ultimately, The Pursuit is all about the life you are building, the influence you are having on others and the legacy you are leaving behind…. In short, use your wisdom, your learning and your influence to change the world and leave it better than you found it. That is why you’re on this journey. That is why you are in The Pursuit.” (Ibid, pp. 190-197)

–Randy Sexton