Wednesday, December 30, 2009


This is the time of year we get to look back over the last 12 months and review all that was good, all that was bad, and all that we forgot. So here goes,


Over 2,600 LCMS churches enrolled and participating in some part of the Men's NetWork

Over 650 non-LCMS churches enrolled and participating in some part of the Men's NetWork

Men's fellowship and impact events happening all over the United States and Canada

New Bible studies being produced for 2010

The Baloney Shop segments give men an opportunity to rally against the baloney of this world

"Stuff They Didn't Teach Us in Sunday School" gives men an opportunity to grow in their Bible story knowledge

Men touched by the Gospel reaching out to their fellow men and inviting them to know the Savior

Men having the opportunity to share the joys and tribulations of being a man in today's world

Men gathering together around the Word and fellowship


Sin, Satan, and the world assaulting us daily

Things we may have forgot:

It's interesting that the company, Build-A-Bear Workshop, put out a children's cartoon claiming Christmas will be cancelled this year because the North Pole is melting due to global warming. That ranks right up there with the United States Department of Energy financing an ad campaign complete with TV commercials and a dedicated Web site targeting children to save energy. Tinker Bell is the spokesperson for this campaign. I am wondering why target children? Have we become so spineless as parents that we now cave in to every whim and whine from our children?

It's interesting that the Christmas light industry has joined in the fight against global warming by providing more expensive, dimmer Christmas display lights. Seems as if the industry is concerned our children have sufficient energy available in the future. Sadly, the governments of the world have strapped future generations with such massive financial debt that our children may not afford any energy or food.

It's interesting that the United States is concerned about preventing lung cancer to the point that smoking is banned in most public places, tobacco is not advertised, and cigarettes are so excessively taxed most people can't afford them. This same government, however, renders a decision that women don't need to have mammograms until age 50, which sends a curious message to younger women who might have had breast cancer detected early enough to save their lives.

It's interesting that there is a concerted effort to prevent forest fires in the interest of preserving animal habitats, but we still abort human babies without any qualm of conscience.

It's interesting that we bend over backward not to offend people of Muslim faith, Jewish faith, or no faith, but find it newsworthy and proper to attack and belittle Christians.

Have a great 2010!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Greetings From The Men's NetWork

All of us at the Men's NetWork wish you and yours a very joyous celebration this Christmas season. We thank you for using, supporting, and promoting the Men's NetWork resources, projects, and events in your men's groups and church families. Together we are reaching men and helping them grow in their leadership roles within their families, churches, and communities.

We promise to continue producing resources that enhance men's ministry groups. We promise we will respond to your feedback. We promise that together we will provide opportunities to introduce men to their Savior.

In lieu of a personalized Christmas card, we have decided to offer a number of Christmas greeting options. Please click from among the links below to choose your favorite greeting:

Merry Christmas Merry Christmas

A. Angel and tree
B. Linus explains Christmas
C. Mary Did You Know?
D. While you were sleeping
E. Christmas with a Capital “C”

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


We hear a lot about angels this time of year -- especially those in the sky singing to the shepherds in Bethlehem. The first movie I watched in grade school was, The Littlest Angel. Then there is the e-mail inbox that has at least one message citing a story about an "angel" that gave a gift to someone in need. So I have been thinking lately about those people who stepped into my life to show unexpected acts of kindness. I don't think they were angels, but I do believe they gave of themselves in a way that impacted my life. For example . . .

One Christmas Eve we were traveling to Grandma's house -- a 300-mile trek. We started after the Christmas Eve service in hopes of arriving before 1 a.m. Our six-month-old baby was sleeping soundly as we left the interstate to travel across country on two-lane highways and through little towns. Around midnight it happened -- a flat tire. We pulled over in front of a closed store, and I began unloading the car to get at the spare tire. The wind picked up and the temperature hovered at the zero-degree mark, as I laid all of our possessions out on the parking lot. When I pulled out the spare, it was flat. We were stuck in a little town, up against the bitter cold, with no help in sight.

Just then a police car pulled behind us. He checked out the situation, woke up a friend who owned a service station, and put us in his warm car to wait. The friend soon pulled up in his truck, took the flat tire and the spare to his station, fixed them, replaced them on our car, and loaded our stuff -- all with no charge -- just a "Merry Christmas!"

I tried to remember his name and the name of his service station, so I could thank him when we returned that way. When we pulled into town, I stopped at what I thought was his station, only to be told it wasn't. No one had heard of him -- or his station; it must have been a different town.

I remember that event vividly. I know my tire was flat. I have pulled into the store's parking lot numerous times; it is a real place. I have yet to figure out the man who fixed our tire, but he has influenced my life. For after that event I have helped others stranded by the side of the road, giving them a ride to the nearest service station, staying with their family, helping change a tire, even giving a donation or two of money. I am not an angel. The man who helped me was not an angel, yet we might have been perceived as such. I do not know. I do know that acts of Christian charity are good things to do -- not just at Christmas, but all year around. I do know Hebrews 13:2.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Merry Christmas

"It's a Wonderful Life" may have been replaced by "How The Grinch Who Stole Christmas." "Miracle on 34th Street" may have been replaced by "The Twilight Saga: New Moon." "Merry Christmas!" may have been replaced by "Happy Holidays!" The mall may have replaced the local church as the favorite gathering place of the season, but . . .

As Christian men and leaders in our families, we have the power to influence and train our children that celebrating Christmas is less dependent on what the world does, and more on how we do it. Just because the media have removed the Christ from Christmas doesn't negate the reason for the season -- Jesus. Just because the manger scene has been removed from some buildings doesn't mean we have to remove it from our houses, our lawns, or our hearts. Just because retail stores have embraced political correctness and view the holiday season as a time for increased revenues, doesn't mean the gifts we exchange are any less meanignful as a small reminder of the great Gift we have all been given. Just because we have people who deny the birth of Christ, doesn't mean He wasn't born.

As Christian men and leaders in our families we need to study the Bible. We need to pray always and share the Good News of a Savior, born of a virgin, who would suffer and die for us. He paid for our sins. He rose from the dead to give us eternal life. Nothing can change that -- not a movie, not a government decree, not a holiday greeting, not a store, not a person. We need to proclaim the Good News to our families -- each and every day.

Men, we need to be the model our children will remember and follow. Our words and actions will be what our children will replicate when they leave our homes. How we live our faith life will speak louder to our children than how we talk about it.

Men, we need to be the man our wives will eagerly follow. We need to step up and lead the family devotions, read the Bible to our spouses, worship with them, pray earnestly for them, and love them -- even as Christ loves the Church.

As Christmas shopping days become fewer, the crowds at the mall loom larger. The more people, the more stress -- the more stress, the less joy -- the less joy, the more anger -- the more anger, the more opportunity for harsh words. Men, it's time for us to smile and offer a hearty "Merry Christmas!" to those who need an encouraging word: the store clerk, the bell-ringer, the mailman, the fast-food, drive-in window clerk, the neighbor, the person next in line, and maybe -- just maybe -- the person who cut you off in traffic. We have an opportunity to brighten a day, to encourage, and to witness this Christmas season.

This Christmas season, let us each share Christ no matter what the world says or does. Christ - and Him alone -- is the reason for the season. Merry CHRISTmas!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy "Holy Days"?

Would you be able to name all of the explorers who "discovered" and settled the Western Hemisphere? (I am eliminating Native Americans and just concentrating on the Europeans here.) I would venture a guess and say you could name, "Columbus." Then, there were many more (see this Web site for a complete list).

One belief virtually every explorer from Europe held in common was Christianity. It would be safe to assume these explorers brought with them customs for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. I mention this to establish that Christmas has been celebrated in the Western Hemisphere since the late 1400s. The celebration of the Holy Day of the birth of Christ continued unbroken for centuries, until 1966 when "Black Friday" was named. Black Friday refers to the day after Thanksgiving when the traditional gift-buying season starts.

Ever since then, the retail market has been shaping and defining how and what we celebrate. For example, now we have the opportunity to not only purchase gifts for Christmas, but for Boxing Day, Three Kings Day, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and even Festivus (that is, if you consider exhibiting "feats of strength" giving a gift). And thanks to the United States Post Office, we can now celebrate Eid al-Adha as they add that stamp to their official holiday stamp collection.

So, it seems to me that in the ever-increasing drive to boost retail revenue, combined with a push to be all-inclusive, what happens is the supreme significance of Christ's birth -- and what that means for a creation lost in its sins -- blurs in peoples' minds. This diminishing is due in part, it would seem, to the growing number of alternate holidays vying for the public's already challenged attention span this time of year. I don't think this is a good thing.

Is it time for Christians to stand up for Christmas? Have we traveled too far down the material road to ever fully reclaim this annual day of honoring our Savior's birth into this world? Is it time to demand at least equal treatment for Christmas in store ads that mention Eid al-Adha but not Christmas? I personally will drop a coin into every Salvation Army kettle when the bell ringer offers, "Merry Christmas!" For two seasons now I have not dropped in a coin. This gives me pause to think about how, even in seemingly small and insignificant ways, Christ is slowly, almost imperceptibly being excised from the Christmas season.

How will you share your CHRISTmas greetings this year?