Sunday, June 1, 2014

"Unbroken: The Movie" Opens December 25, 2014

Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 blockbuster, award-winning book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption is coming to silver screen Christmas Day. Hillenbrand’s bestseller recounts the inspiring true story of Louie Zamperini, who has lived a life almost too incredible to be believed.

In his youth in the 1930’s, Zamperini was an incorrigible troublemaker and school bully but he could run like the wind. He became a champion runner and competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and so impressed Adolph Hitler and Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebels they asked for a personal meeting. In September 1941, he joined the US Army Air Corps and flew a number of combat missions in the Pacific as a B-24 bombardier.

Then in May 1943, his plane crashed on a routine search mission in the Pacific, and Zamperini and one other survivor drifted on a raft some 2.000 miles over 47 days before being taken prisoner by the Japanese. He spent the next two and a half years in several brutal prison camps undergoing horrendous torture, abuse and starvation.

After the war, he returned to California angry and bitter with what we now call Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He experienced haunting nightmares and severe alcohol abuse. His wife Cynthia who had become a Christian decided not to divorce Zamperini. Instead she insisted he join her at Billy Graham’s historic 1949 Los Angeles Crusade. There he came to faith in Christ and his whole life changed immediately. Of that night Zamperini wrote this:

[Graham] quoted Scripture: ‘For all have sinned’ and so forth. And I thought, I don't need him to tell me I'm a sinner. I know I am. I started to get up to leave, and he said, ‘When people come to the end of their rope and there's nowhere to turn, they turn to God—no matter who they are.’ I thought, Yeah, I made thousands of promises on the raft and in prison camp. He kept His promises, but I didn't keep mine. So I went back to the prayer room and made a confession of faith in Christ. While I was still on my knees, I knew my whole life had changed. I knew that I was through getting drunk—that I'd forgiven all my guards, including the Bird. I just couldn't believe it was happening.”

He went on to share the gospel around the nation and world and endlessly told his story of rescue and redemption. In 1950 he returned to Japan to meet and forgive his Japanese captors.

Zamperini recently said the book “Unbroken has had a tremendous influence, and it has turned into a God-given opportunity to share the Gospel. The book has yielded an unbelievable ministry.”

The movie Unbroken will bring Louie Zamperini’s powerful story of courage, faith and endurance to even more millions of people around the world. What remains unclear at this time is how much of Zamperini’s faith in Christ will the film’s producer Angelina Jolie will put on the screen. We will be following future developments about the movie and will report them to you in our monthly e-newsletters.

By the way, the 97 year old Zamperini resides in Los Angeles and will be grand marshal of the 2015 Rose Parade.

Check Them Out:




Dave Brown, Director and Pastor-at-Large, Washington Area Coalition of Men's Ministries (WACMM)
 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dad: Coach, Cheerleader and Companion



Proverbs 17:6 says:"…the glory of sons is their fathers" (NASB). The Hebrew root for glory is weight. So we could translate the text,"…the weight of sons is their father".

In other words, dads are meant to provide their sons substance and weightiness
for manhood. Through their dads, sons learn to be anchored and rooted in the Lord and not yielded to or carried off by the flesh, the world or the devil.

Dad is a boy’s mooring. He is a point of reference, a navigational beacon to guide and direct him. But if dad has checked out or has disengaged from his son, the son will likely drift in a counterfeit masculinity. Without the “weightiness” of dad stabilizing him, the son heads off into isolation or passivity, or both. Cut loose from his father mooring he’ll drift into a world of fantasy, addictions, anger and violence. He’ll grow up lacking identity, purpose, meaning and connectedness.


A man’s deepest wounds are not physical but wounds of the soul. An absent, abusive or passive dad can scar a man for life. Many of us pretend these wounds aren’t there or we will try to cover them and move on. Others are oblivious to them even well into adulthood. But these so-called father wounds explain much about who we are and why we do the things we do. Sons desperately need dads as their coach, cheerleader and companion into authentic manhood that is found only in a vital relationship with Christ. Martin Luther said "It is the duty of every Christian to be Christ to his neighbor." I would add that a Christian man first and foremost should be Christ to his wife and his children. In his dad, a son should see "Jesus with skin on".

God has given dads responsibility and power to teach and lead their sons in the following ways.


(1)       To model authentic manhood.

In the movie Gladiator, Maximus as he leads his men into battle exhorts them, “What we do in life echoes in eternity.” Our boys are always watching us, learning from us, and picking up cues from us, particularly what it means to be a man. The words you use, the things you deem important, your demeanor and attitude, and so forth inform your son’s life agenda. You leave in your son what you’ve lived out in your marriage, home, church and vocation. To leave him a godly legacy, you’ve got to live a godly life.

(2)       To help them discover and develop their gifts and talents.

God has given our sons a specific masculine design and natural bent. They can either follow them or chase fanciful pursuits disconnected from their gifts and God wiring. So dads set the stage for the son’s future, serving as a launch pad, and help him determine his life trajectory. Dads prime the pump for the discovery and use of their passions, gifts, talents and masculinity.

(3)       To teach them life skills.

In the course of time a son needs to know how to shave, play hard and fair, have wholesome fun, buy a car or house, follow proper manners, choose friends, respect authority and look out for the well being of others. He’ll learn these skills primarily from dad. He’ll also need to know how to treat women respectfully. He’ll learn that from how you treat your wife.
                       
Dads are their sons’ first and most important life coach through thick and thin. It’s not only about quality time with your son but also quantity. To spend more time with him will often require you to re-prioritize your schedule. That could mean making some hard decisions about your career and however you spend your "personal time". God intends fathers to help sons make sense of life and faith in Jesus Christ.

(4)        To give the affirmation of manhood he hungers for.

Sons need to hear from their fathers things like: “I love you”; “I’m proud of you”; “You’re really good at…”.

Let your son often know he has what it takes to be a man. That’s the question men ask of themselves. Inadequacy is one of a man’s greatest fears. Many of us spend our entire life trying to answer the question by seeking affirmation in our performance, position, power, and possessions. If your son knows that he only finds his identity, significance, affirmation and satisfaction in Christ, he will not pursue the idols of his heart. Only when men are united in Christ will they have what it takes to be an authentic man.


Dave Brown, Director and Pastor-at-Large, Washington Area Coalition of Men’s Ministries (WACMM) and Chairman, Foundation of Manhood. www.wacmm.org

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Who's The Man? by Darrin Patrick



We need a vision for masculinity. We need a model. We need to see a man rooted and secure in his calling. A man with no crisis of identity--constantly trying to prove himself (Matthew 3:17). One who lived his life with passion and persistence. A man whose masculinity is worth imitating.
"Ecce Homo" - Behold The Man!

Jesus is the vision for true masculinity.


Men are experiencing an identity crisis. And we’re short on role models.


We’re caught between Don Draper as the alpha male and a whole crew of omega males like Judd Apatow. One tries to express masculinity through power, possessions, and promiscuity. The other group has stopped trying altogether. Unlike us, these other guys seem to be getting something out of their isolation and discontentment, their rebellion, and their lack of discipline. We’re stuck with pain and hardship.


We need a more compelling vision for masculinity. We need to see a man so utterly rooted and secure in his identity that he can actually embody masculinity for us. A man with no crisis of identity, pursuing his calling with passion and persistence. A man whose masculinity is not vain and self-serving.


We need to look to Jesus, the true and perfect Man.


Content and Coachable


Contentment propelled Jesus. Before his incarnation, he had all that anyone could possibly imagine. Yet he relinquished everything for our sake, entering into a world of hardship, limitation, suffering, and death. His contentment didn’t come from his circumstances or location, but from his ongoing, eternal relationship with the Father. Before Jesus entered into public ministry, preached a single sermon, performed any miracles, or healed anyone, the Father spoke these words: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

Because Jesus was content and secure in his identity as the Son of the Father, he was coachable. He was the perfect teacher, but the Gospel of Luke describes him being led by the Holy Spirit. He said that he did on earth whatever his Father did (John 5:19), even learning through his ordained suffering (Hebrews 5:8). He modeled humility, making it clear he was under the guidance and authority of God the Father. Even when he was tempted to avoid the suffering of the cross, Jesus said, “Not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).


Disciplined and Determined

He was disciplined. Knowing that once the sun came up he would be mobbed by the crowds, he made it his practice to get up early to be with his Father and gain instruction for the day. He had focus and a clear sense of timing. He moved on to the next thing when needed (Mark 1:37–38). He lived in the moment: “And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I have come to this hour” (John 12:27).

He dealt with the weaknesses of living as a man in sin-soaked society (Hebrews 4:15). People opposed his mission and message at every turn. Yet despite every obstacle, Jesus remained focused on our good and his perfect sacrifice on our behalf (Hebrews 10:14). Jesus was a determined man.


Connected to Family and Friends


Jesus was driven, but always had others in view, even making room for his family (John 2:3–5). He was aware of his responsibilities as a son, knowing that, even as God, he needed to fulfill them. Before entering public ministry, he took up carpentry like his earthly father Joseph. And in his final act, while he was on the cross, Jesus entrusted the care for his mother to a beloved disciple (John 19:26–27).

Jesus was connected to his followers, revealing himself to them. He coached and trained them, encouraged and challenged them. He was a teacher to them, but much more. Their job was to soak up as much as they could, to imitate him, and obey his commands. But in a remarkable statement, Jesus made them more than followers. He invited them to be friends, to be equals with him in his work, in his rest, in all the benefits and joys that are his — even as the Son of God (John 15:15).


Tough and Tender


Jesus was both tender and tough. He grieved and wept over the death of his friend Lazarus. And when the religious leaders of his day were selling things in the temple, Jesus overturned their tables and angrily whipped them with cords (John 2:15)! He wasn’t ruled by his emotions, but did not deny or suppress them either. Jesus felt things both deeply and rightly.

Jesus fought the right battles. He stared death in the face and overcame it. He conquered his enemies and ours. And he continues to vanquish anything else that would dare oppose him (1 Corinthians 15:20–28). He is ever victorious, always triumphant, and glorious in his strength. And he fights on our behalf, coming to our aid and triumphing over the one who would destroy our souls.


Uncover the Manhood


As we look to Jesus, we see much more than an example. He is the one who enables us to become like him because he frees us from the guilt we feel when we see how short of his perfection we have fallen. He is not only the true man. He is the only true Savior.

We were created to be true men — men of courage, industry, and goodness. That glory has been buried because of our ongoing rebellion against our Creator. Jesus offers us forgiveness and a chance to be made new. If we open ourselves to his mercy at the cross, we can begin the painful, but healing, process of letting Jesus dig through our bitterness, anger, pride, envy, and desire to control others — to uncover the true and glorious manhood that lies somewhere deep within every one of us men.


Darrin Patrick is pastor of The Journey Church in St. Louis, Missouri, and author of the new book The Dude’s Guide to Manhood: Finding True Manliness in a World Full of Counterfeits. Resources from Darrin are available at darrinpatrick.org