Thursday, March 1, 2018

OH FATHER, WHERE ART THOU -"CONSTANT SORROW, GENERATIONS AT RISK"


"If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15)
Every time there is a senseless act of brutal violence involving young men and boys, we hear the same refrain - "What has happened to our boys"....or some such variation. From Columbine High School in the late 1990's to Broward County in February 2018, the world watches in stunned disbelief. 


In the aftermath of yet another tragedy, the navel-gazing begins. From daytime TV talk shows to even some well-meaning and great conservative talk show hosts across America on cable television and radio, the same type of "expert" comes on to pontificate on theories and even equations. We see a therapist, feminists, psycho-therapists and even a few psychos on the tube with their own theory. In the natural, a fair number of them are actually quite good. One analyst who appears regularly with Tucker Carlson has gotten close to the bullseye a number of times. She is named as a feminist in the caption, but as a mom, she is spot on with the need for boys to have positive male role models.

Still - NOT ONE - of these seemingly qualified professionals ever gets close enough to the real cause of this epidemic of hopelessness, hate and self-destruction. But on second thought, why should they? Why should primarily secular professionals in psychology or academia or politics be convinced of the one big cause of the sickness of these last two generations? Why should they when the people who have the answers - American pastors and preachers - stay silent. We can understand the superstar megachurch or parachurch ministry rich guys zipping it, as they're too busy trying not to offend anyone, less their coffers take a hit, or they don't get invited on Fox or some other channel anymore. But scan any church website for topics of sermons in the last month, and see how many address the reason for any of this madness. The answer is virtually none.

The reason why young men and boys from the 1980's to present have lost their way, hope and any reason for meaning in life is this - they lack the knowledge of the Giver of Life. Starting with the baby boomers, of which I am one, the slide into narcissism and rank stupidity is amazing. It was not just liberal courts and politicians destroying families by taking God and the Bible out of the equation or making the state their gods. It was churches and movements and yes, men themselves who failed. The reason why television, movies, Hollywood etc made authentic manhood look foolish, unnecessary and no-good could be because the church failed.

Even so, there has always been a remnant of the Men of God - evangelical Christians - who have never deviated from the Call of God, to be Disciples of God. The Jesus Movement of the 1970's, which blew up the west coast and spread all over America gave way to the guys beating bongo in the woods in the 1980's. It was not until the Promise Keepers of the 1990's where most of us men, then in our 40's started finding direction for our lives in Men's Ministry.

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

Many of us grew up without fathers. My own dad died when I was 11 and I was fortunate to have the priests in our Catholic school as our model for men of decency, strength, and morality. But it was the youth minister in my church group, a Presbyterian minister, taking me under his wings, who gave me an opportunity to get a foundation in Jesus through outreach, local missions and playing my guitar. Unfortunately, not many young people are willing to humble themselves to a Cause greater than themselves because culture, community and sadly even in families, they were taught in the last 30-40 years that life was all about them. 

The selfie generation has gone even further inward, adrift on a sea of pluralism in "religion", "spirituality", amoral to the core and even confused about the two genders. When a conservative poll of young EVANGELICALS found that 57% of them believe there are other ways to Heaven than through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ (Barna), Houston, they have more than a problem.  When the world has 99% of their focus during the week, and if they even go to church, they find fancy coffee, WIFI, no bibles to open instead of on an app or on the jumbo screen behind the preacher. Then you add the rock and roll band playing a 7/11 song (seven words sang eleven times), who would blame them for thinking this social club is really cool! When life happens, watch these same deep-as-a-thimble young people walk completely away from God. 

So what is the answer? It is not that complicated". However, it will take clarity of mind, purpose and 100% commitment. It requires continued hands-on involvement of men like us, who have been in Men's Ministry leadership, on both the local and regional level, to step up. It requires knowledge, Godly wisdom and experience. We are compelled to lay out a process, with an eye to raising masculine, young men who can dream, have to mean in life and still have fun. We know this can work because we have seen it succeed countless times.

We are products of Promise Keepers. Regardless of the flaws of that movement's leaders, the value of Godly manhood to the family, as husbands, fathers, and Christians in the community stuck with us, through the countless awakenings at all those PK conferences. It was there at hundreds of thousands of men discovered the benefit of small groups and accountability to one another. 
Accountability led to responsibility
Responsibility led to action
Being proactive led to risk, but risk is a key element of Faith
Faith led to open hearts and minds
A mind opened by God led to the search for the Knowledge of God
The search led to the Scriptures, the Oracles of God
The Scriptures led to even more open hearts and Passion
Passion rejects passivity
Passivity kills legacy and destroys men and their sons
Passion for God leads to consuming the pages of the Bible
Consuming the pages of the Bible leads to yearning for others to know Him
That yearning leads to love for others burning with the love of God
These are the Two Greatest Commandments - love God, love others
Love never fails, but it must be based on the Truth of the Full Counsel of God
Love without truth, as the world teaches in the flesh - leads to DESTRUCTION
Love with the Way, the Truth and the Life - leads to Eternal Life
Eternal Life secured leads to sanctification of the cured
Sanctification can lead to a heartbroken for these Generations X, Y, and Z.

These last generations, from their mid-teens now (2018) to their late 20's are so very lost and confused. Yet no one will tell them the truth. No one gives them the true hope of Christ, in a meaningful way.  There has never been more Bible Apps, Christian movies, Christian music and on and on...and there has never been more depression, lack of direction and worse in families and young people.  People look at outstanding Christians like Tim Tebow or the Philadephia Eagles' head coach and quarterbacks, and they don't get it. What makes a man like Tebow smile, while being mocked and discarded by a National Football League that celebrates all kinds of disgusting conduct and even mocked by others, who could not even spell baseball, for landing in the New York Mets. You know what it is? It is Jesus.

"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...Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

While many of us homeschooled our kids until they got to college and went to their sporting or musical events, well, religiously, you know what means the most, when the rolled is called up yonder? What means the most is what we - the men of God, our wives, and the Godly men our sons grew up around - taught them about Jesus. Fortunately, our teaching on Jesus and the Bible, the pure Word of God, lined up with the way we lived in front of our children. 

On Judgment Day before God, when we stand in the Presence of the One Who has the power to send many billions into Hell and eternal separation, we had better have the answer. Those of us who call ourselves Christians should have a good response to the important question. It is that Jesus lived in our home. Leaders of all stripes, whether Christian or not, will stand before the Master - the Judge - The Lord Jesus Christ - and if we did not speak up now, while there is still life....if we did not try to reach the next person God pointed us to with the Gospel....if we did not try to spread the Hope and Love of Jesus.....well, you fill in the blanks. 

We may have lost many who turned from God, but there is still hope to reach those who never even heard of the True Jesus. He is not the One mixed in with eastern mysticism or the surfer boy born in a nativity scene in December. He is the Hope of all the Nations. Those kids in Broward County, hurting and scared....the kids in Connecticut or Colorado or the poor souls in Las Vegas during Fall of 2017, they more than others, need the Gospel of Hope. There is still time to reach one more. Let's not squander it. Let's leave a Legacy. Let's not just pray for our own children to be saved before their teenage years, but do like some of us - pray for our UNBORN grandchildren to be saved as well. Theirs is a very cruel world ahead of them, which hates God. The good news is this: God will always love them. In Jesus' Strong Name, Amen. 
"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants..." (Deuteronomy 30:19)
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