Guys Night Out at Cornerstone Church

There was a time when I was a child that I wanted to be a first responder. Almost all

Ron Waterman Firefighter
Ron Waterman Firefighter

children go through a phase like this, some stick with it and others move on to something else. At one time, I wanted to be a fireman, and then I change my mind and thought that a police officer would be so much better, but then I realized that if I joined the Army or the Navy, I would be a soldier! The men and women that we celebrated tonight were kids at some point daydreaming just like I did about becoming a first responder. As I pulled up to the parking lot at cornerstone church, I saw two beautiful helicopters, the San Antonio Police Department eagle helicopters! What an amazing sight. I got to talk to one of the pilots just before having to go inside to start the conference. The evening started with a very manly meal. And some good old tunes from a quartet that set the mood. When Ron Waterman was introduced, you could hear a pin drop. A former professional Wrestler and Firefighter, many men in that room looked at Ron as an inspiration when they were kids. But the highlight of the evening was not Ron’s testimony or his challenging men to really man up. It was when Ron

Mna Up

Where are the men?

Christian Men (pt 1)

This week I read a book by David Murrow. The title of the book is “Why Men Hate going to Church”. This book deals with a major and troubling issue with Christianity as a whole, even affecting the church, and that issue is that Christianity is pretty much the only major religion where there are more women worshipers than men.

So, what seems to be the problem? Well, in today’s busy world, men seldom go to church! Furthermore, of the men who do attend church, most decline to invest themselves in the Christian life as their wives and mothers do. The majority of men attend services and nothing more. One man said, “I go mainly for my kids and my wife. Church is okay but it really doesn’t enthrall me like it does her.”

Who is the gospel touching today? Women. Women’s ministries, women’s conferences, women’s Bible studies and women’s retreats are ubiquitous in the modern church. Men’s ministry, if it even exists, might consist of an occasional pancake breakfast and an annual retreat. How did a faith founded by a man and his twelve male disciples become so popular with women but detested by men? The church of the first century was a magnet to males. Jesus’ strong leadership, blunt honesty and bold action mesmerized men. A five minute sermon by Peter resulted in the conversion of 3000 men.

Today’s church does not mesmerize men; it repels them. Just 35 percent of the men in the united States say they attend church weekly. In Europe male participation rates are much worse, in the neighborhood of 5 percent. This hardly sounds like a male-dominated, patriarchal institution to me.

Let me be blunt: today’s church has developed a culture that is driving men away. Almost every man in America has tried church, but two-thirds find it unworthy of a couple of hours once a week. When men need spiritual sustenance, they go to the wilderness, the workplace, the garage, the corner bar, the stadium, the racetrack, a novel or a movie.

Men’s disinterest in Christianity is so consistent around the world, it cannot be explained

Westover Hills Assemblies of God in San Antonio TX holds a "man up" conference that is out of this world!
Westover Hills Assemblies of God in San Antonio TX holds a “man up” conference that is out of this world!

by pride, father issues, sin, or distraction. Neither can we say that men are just less religious because this is untrue. Male and female participation are roughly equal in Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism. In the Islamic world men are publicly and unashamedly religious—more so than women. Of the world’s greatest religions, only Christianity has a consistent, nagging shortage of male practitioners.

So what is driving men away from Christianity? What do you think the problem is?

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How to find a Real Man!

Man up!

Shut up and talk to me!

 

What is Christmas about? (podcast)

What is Christmas about? Presents? Family? Jesus? Well… I’m going to get in trouble with this but let me tell you this… Christmas is NOT about Jesus! Listen to the podcast to find out what I mean.

The Decision

I find myself wondering what it must have been like to be Joseph (Jesus’ step father). There are lots of books and bible teachings about Christmas. Most of them have to do with Jesus himself and rightfully so. Then you have some teaching where Mary (Jesus’ mom) is highlighted. But I don’t know of many books or bible teachings where Joseph was the center of the teaching. And so as Christmas day is just 3 days away, I want to look at Christmas from the eyes of men. And today it is all about Joseph, the man, the father and the husband.

I’ll set the scene now; Joseph’s heart was full of anticipation over his recent engagement to Mary. He had to be daydreaming and thinking about what his life would be like, and he was, no doubt, optimistic about his future. Little did he know that God had other plans and that the first Christmas would get in his way.

The bible does not tell us how Joseph came to notice MARY’S condition. Did she tell him from the start? Did she begin to show and have to explain it to him? Did he even give her a chance to explain? And, suppose he did. How in the world was he going to believe something as far fetched as the actual truth?

“An angel appeared to you?” Joseph may have asked, “Angels do that all the time, don’t they?” He would have been sarcastic about it, “Come on, Mary. You’ve driven a knife through my heart. Don’t add insult to injury by lying to me!”

Hind sight is 20/20 they say and so you and I both know that Mary was telling the truth. Nevertheless, I can only imagine how bad Mary felt when her husband-to-be didn’t believe her and now didn’t trust her. But, I don’t want to focus on Mary since this is written for men and about men, let’s look at all of this from Joseph’s point of view. Can you imagine how crushed he felt that Mary would betray him this way (At least he thought she did, what other logical explanation is there)? If you put yourself in his shoes, this had to be a huge disappointment! Once Joseph thought Mary was unfaithful, it must have given him the unwelcome effect of leaving him feeling inadequate. This is what must have been going through his mind: “Wasn’t my love enough for her? I guess not, and what does that say about me”? He may also have lost the ability to trust not only Mary but anyone, at least for a time. He might have asked himself, How can I ever love again? How can I possibly risk another broken heart?

Whatever Joseph was feeling – and we don’t know, do we? Because the text doesn’t tell us – but whatever it was, we know that he was a righteous man. Even though, in his mind, he had been dealt this dreadful blow, even though the foundations of his world had been shaken, even though he had been hurt and hurt deeply, he didn’t seek to retaliate. Mary had wounded him; he wouldn’t do the same to her.

In fact, Matthew tells us that he “was unwilling to expose her to public disgrace.” So, he “planned to dismiss her quietly.” It was a noble thing. Back in those days, an engagement was as binding as a marriage, and he would have been within his rights to drag Mary through an ugly and mean-spirited divorce. He could have ruined her for life. But he didn’t. Instead, he was willing to make it easy on her, as easy as he could make it.

I’m guessing that he may have had trouble going to sleep at night. You know how it is when your mind is spinning and you can’t quit thinking about how you got where you are and what you’re going to do now. Joseph’s life had been interrupted – which, I suppose, is an understatement. This isn’t how he had planned things to go at all. He had always been careful. He was known for his sound judgment. How could he have gone so wrong? With these thoughts churning in his brain, he finally drifted off to sleep.

But even his sleep was interrupted. He was awakened by a dream. Nothing unusual about that, but this was an unusual dream. No “visions of sugarplums” dancing in his head! His vision was of something much more frightening: he saw an angel, and the angel called him by name. Joseph, he said, do not be afraid. Joseph, your fears are unfounded. The baby that Mary is carrying is from the Holy Spirit.

Now, think about that. Not only had Joseph’s life been interrupted and not only had his sleep been interrupted, but now his apprehensions had been interrupted as well. His disappointment – interrupted. His suspicions – interrupted. His discouragement – interrupted. His shame – interrupted.

That’s what the message of Christmas does. It interrupts the pain of living – no matter how intense it may be – and it tells you that there is ultimately no reason to be afraid.

Why not? Because the baby in Mary’s womb is Emmanuel, God with us. He is God’s affidavit in the flesh that you will never have to face any difficulty alone. God will be with you.

Over and over in the Scriptures, God assures us of this. In Isaiah 43, he says to you, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” I will be with you, he says. I will be with you.

That’s Isaiah forty-three, in which God speaks to us. In Psalm twenty-three we speak to him, and what is it that we say? “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Why? Because there’s no evil to fear? Not on your life. In the valley of the shadow of death? There’s evil all around. Isn’t there? The reason we do not fear it is…what? What do we say? “I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.”

God is with us, and that changes the landscape of any disruption. What is it that this Christmas brings to mind that you had rather not think about? Perhaps it is a loss that you have endured over the past year. Or a setback of some kind. A financial reversal. A scary diagnosis. A broken heart. A lost love. A shameful memory. Some sin that has overtaken you.

Christmas interrupts the unraveling of your life. Your fears, like Joseph’s, are unfounded, and for the same reason: The child in Mary’s womb! You are to name him Jesus, the angel said. Why Jesus? Because of what it means. And what does it mean? It means “the Lord saves.” He saves his people, the angel said. And that means he saves you.

His birth, you see, arrests the disintegration, the demoralizing depreciation of your life that you think you’re helplessly witnessing. The news of Christmas suspends the erosion of your hope and gives you new cause for joy.

Joseph’s sleep had been interrupted by the news of that first Christmas, but we don’t see him rolling over in bed to go back to sleep. No. What do we see? We see him dressing as fast as he could. We see him running, unable to contain his joy – running to Mary to tell her how happy he is now that he knows the truth.

If you think your life as it is now is without hope, you’re believing a lie. The truth is, God is with you. And when God is with you, there’s always hope. Don’t be surprised then if Christmas interrupts the ache within you. It’s been doing that for some two thousand years.

GIVE ADVISE 

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Some more good posts by Manly Training:

Christmas Through The Eyes of a Man (part 3)

Christmas Through The Eyes of a Man (part 2)

Christmas through the eyes of a man (part 1)

Where are the men?

Where are the godly men?

The Mark Of a Dad – Cherish


 

Dying © 2016 MANLY TRAINING

The Dream


The dream-Christmas through the eyes of a man. Part III

• JOSEPH’S DREAM

That night, as Joseph tossed fitfully in his sleep, God gave him a glimpse of his divine plan. An angel appears to Joseph in his dream and tells him, “Joseph, descendant of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the baby in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21 NCV).

Now, the Bible doesn’t tell us this part, but I’m certain that before Joseph fell asleep that night, he first fell to his knees and prayed to God. He asked, “Why, God? Why would she do this? Why does it hurt so bad? What have I done to deserve this?” More than anything that night, Joseph needed a word from the Lord. He needed to hear from God. Can you relate to that?

Maybe you need God’s guidance and direction for your life. Maybe you just need his comfort and assurance. Whatever the reason, I think we all experience moments when we just need to hear from God. I don’t think the problem is that God doesn’t speak to us, though. The problem is—we’re not very good at listening.

I believe that one of most valuable lessons we can ever learn is how to listen to God. In the midst of our complex and hectic lives, nothing is more urgent, more necessary, or more rewarding than listening to what God has to say. And I believe that God speaks just as powerfully today as he did to Joseph. His voice wants to be heard! He may not speak to us through a burning bush like he with Moses or through a dream like he did Joseph—but God still speaks!

Sometimes God may speak to us through a restless spirit. Other times, God uses another person’s words to speak to us—a poignant sermon that just happens to speak to your immediate needs or a spiritually insightful book that does the same. Sometimes God gives us unusual blessings to get our attention. Other times he may use disappointments, difficulties, and dilemmas for the very same reason. Sometimes God speaks to us through recurring themes—a subject that keeps coming up in a variety of ways. God may even impress a specific message into our hearts through his Spirit; what Bill Hybels calls “the quiet whispers of the transcendent God.” In each of these and other similar circumstance, we ought to turn to God and ask, “God, are you speaking to me? I’m listening.”

Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27 NLT). The opening words of the book of Hebrews assures us, “Long ago God spoke in many different ways to our fathers through the prophets, in visions, dreams, and even face-to-face, telling them little by little about his plans. But now in these days he has spoken to us through his Son…” (Hebrews 1:1-2 TLB).

The question is—are you listening? And if you do hear God’s voice… do you have the guts to respond? Joseph did. The final scene in Joseph’s story reveals Joseph’s decision.

GIVE ADVISE 

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Some more good posts by Manly Training:

 Where are the men?

Where are the godly men?

The Mark Of a Dad – Cherish

What is Christmas?

Christmas through the eyes of a man I (podcast)

This is the first part of a series I am calling “Christmas Through the Eyes of a Man”. In this first part, I open the series with a personal testimony on how we adopted our three boys. Why is this important? Listen to the podcast and find out!

GIVE ADVISE 

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© 2016 MANLY TRAINING

I would be very grateful if you shared  this article and website on your Twitter, Facebook, or other social media. You can also follow MANLY TRAINING on:2013-11-19-09-15-25

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Some more good posts by Manly Training:

 Where are the men?

Where are the godly men?

The Mark Of a Dad – Cherish

 

Joe

This time of year is always special. Families all have their different traditions: decorating the Christmas tree, hanging stockings, traveling to visit family and friends. You may enjoy driving around the neighborhood, looking at the twinkling lights decorating people’s homes. As you drive around the town, you inevitably come across various nativity scenes, displaying the birth of Jesus. Many churches throughout the community will often tell the story of Jesus’ birth through dramas and children’s plays, reenacting those fateful events.

The cast of characters associated with the story of Jesus’ birth is colorful and memorable. We recognize them by their unique speaking parts. With dramatic words, the Angels take center stage to announce the birth of the Savior. They appear to Joseph to announce that the name of the child would be Jesus. The angel Gabriel makes the unforgettable announcement to Mary. An angelic choir interrupts the shepherds, singing, praises to God and goodwill toward men. Mary offers a beautiful hymn. The wise men ask to see the newborn King. The shepherds become early evangelists—spreading the news of Jesus birth.

Oddly enough, only Joseph has no speaking part. He is the lone silent member of the cast and often forgotten. Angels bring heavenly greetings. Mary sings a praiseful solo. Wise men worship. Shepherds preach. Joseph is silent. No notable lines are attributed to him. No sound bites. No quotes. Only silence. However, Joseph is irreplaceable in the story of Jesus’ birth.

In fact, A Sunday School was putting on a Christmas pageant which included the story of Mary and Joseph coming to the inn. One boy wanted so very much to be Joseph, but when the parts were handed out, a boy he didn’t like was given that part, and he was assigned to be the inn-keeper instead. He was pretty upset about this but he didn’t say anything to the director.
During all the rehearsals he thought what he might do the night of performance to get even with this rival who got to be Joseph. Finally, the night of the performance, Mary and Joseph came walking across the stage. They knocked on the door of the inn, and the inn-keeper opened the door and asked them gruffly what they wanted.

Joseph answered, “We’d like to have a room for the night.” Suddenly the inn-keeper threw the door open wide and said, “Great, come on in and I’ll give you the best room in the house!”

Joseph may not have a speaking role in the Nativity story, but as is often the case, his actions speak louder than words. The message of Joseph’s story is this: People may let you down. There will be times when you feel hurt, angry, or betrayed and you may not know what to do. But if we will listen, God will speak to us. Whether it’s through his word or some other means, God will let his voice be heard. From there, it’s up to us to listen and obey.

Invitation:

As you prepare for Christmas this month and you celebrate the birth of Jesus with your loved ones, keep an ear open for God’s voice. Listen to what he says through his Word and the world around you. If you will listen and obey, then God will use you in his cast of characters! If there’s any way I can help you with that please let me know as we stand and sing.

GIVE ADVISE 

I’d like to hear your opinion about this article. Click on the link to submit your constructive criticism so I can help you better.

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© 2016 MANLY TRAINING

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Some more good posts by Manly Training:

Where are the men?

Where are the godly men?

The Mark Of a Dad – Cherish