Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I like the game of golf. I am not very good at it, but I like it anyway. My main function in a foursome is to provide comic relief and buy beer. That's not to say I don't savor the challenge of the game however. I enjoy the hunt as I look for errant balls in the rough or the woods. I am thrilled when I actually land a ball on the fairway, especially if it's the fairway for my particular hole. If I use a ball with a Christian message, I feel somewhat better when I lose it. Who knows, somebody might find it and learn more about Jesus because of my strategic slice into the woods!

The best part of the game for me are the memories -- for I always have that one good shot that will keep me coming back for more. It could be the drive that landed farther than anyone else's, the chip into the hole, the putt drained from 40 feet --- these are all things memories are made of. Due to my selective memory, I tend to forget the double and triple bogeys, for those are routine. But it's that one outstanding shot that I replay over and over again that brings me back. I figure if I can do it once, I can do it again.

The other best part of the game is the "mulligan." A mulligan, most simply put, is a do-over. Hit a bad shot? Take a mulligan and replay that stroke. Mulligans are most often employed during friendly rounds with golf buddies or during charity events or tournaments where these valuable scoring commodities are sometimes sold. Yes, I love the mulligan. It's the chance to try again, improve my shot and do better.

As we enter 2011, many around the world engage in a ritual mulligan called the "New Year's Resolution." These resolutions usually involve a do-over in the areas of physical health, mental health, financial health, spiritual health or a myriad of other health-oriented revisions to one's life. The purpose of the resolution is to acknowledge the past as something less than perfect and to amend one's habits to improve the quality of life in the future. The resolution may be to spend more time with the family, exercise, lose weight, quit smoking, enjoy life, quit drinking, get out of debt, learn something new, help others, get organized, pray more and, well, you get the picture.

No matter what the resolution, the one common bond tying them all together is they are usually broken and forgotten by the end of January. Oh, the occasional exception happens, but just as the mulligan really doesn't make one a better golfer, so to the resolution doesn't make one a better person. (Okay, we can argue that point, if you like. My contention here is it is the doing and not the resolving that makes the difference.)

What if this year we don't make a formal resolution that gets broken by the end of January? What if this year we just do it? If we trip up and forget our intentions or get sidetracked or derailed somehow, we just get back on the saddle and keep after it. No questions asked. No self-condemnation over blowing it.

What if we begin these efforts today and get a jump start on the New Year? It's an amazing thing what one guy can do when he sets his mind to it.

All the best to each of you throughout the New Year as you strengthen your commitment to God and His work by, well, by just doing it.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Reason for the Season

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests."
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told (Luke 2:1-20).


This oft-heard narrative is so familiar to most of us we sometimes forget what it is telling us. The heavy irons of our sin that were slowly dragging us under have been completely broken. The power of the enemy, Satan himself, has been destroyed, and he withers before that glorious Form born in a Bethlehem manger.

In a word, there is hope! In God's Word, there is Jesus.

Two thousand years ago, His birth changed everything. His life changed everything. And His death and resurrection most certainly changed everything.

May each of you know the new and forgiven life that is yours through faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

From our homes to yours, we at the Men's NetWork pray you have a joy-filled celebration of our Lord's birth.

God Bless and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Trip

Soon it will be time for loading up the family vehicle, strapping in the kids, and heading over to grandma's house for the family Christmas celebration. Some of you are fortunate enough that your trip will be short and your children's entertainment requirements will be minimal. Ah, but some of you brave souls will have longer journeys ahead of you.

The excitement of the journey will soon give way to the monotony of wheels droning over the highway and these two classic questions: "Are we there yet?" and "How much longer?" If your kids are older and unencumbered by child car seats, you might get to savor these joyous refrains: "He's touching me!", "Mom, tell him to stop bothering me!" or the ever-golden nugget -- "Dad, tell her to stop looking at me!" Oh, the joys of that young child's precious little voice. One thing's for sure though, the shrieks from the back seat might just be the thing that keeps you awake and alert on the road, but I digress.

Many a father has threatened his brood with the ominous, "Do you want me to stop the car?" (Actually they do, but not right then.) There's also the wonderfully effective, "Cut it out!" -- often delivered at a decibel level that would drown out an airplane engine. In lieu of threats and loud noises, some fathers have tried to quiet their offspring with games. One such favorite is "The Quiet Game." The winner is the last one to utter a noise. Most children will sacrifice their bragging rights and take one for the team by speaking first. As a result, the game will work just so far. "Alphabet games," "I spy" and other favorites seem to work, too, but just a little.

Today, tech-savvy dads are aware of such devices as individual DVD players, PS2 game systems, iPods, and other such devices built to entertain children and insure road safety. I'm a big fan of such survival tools and believe every dad packing his kids for a trip longer than five minutes should get a DVD player, an iPod, and anything else necessary to minimize behavioral problems.

This year when you go "over the river and through the woods" armed with gadgets enough to make James Bond envious, I'd suggest you use these tools to share your faith. That's right. Christian videos, Christian music and even audio Bible stories can go a long way to reinforce your faith teachings and help your child grow in the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord.

Think peace, safety and quiet as you put your Christmas road trip together. Have fun!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December 7, 1941

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese air attack on the U.S. naval fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was a moment that will long be remembered as the event that catapulted the United States into World War II. From that date forward, the world was forever changed. As we pause to remember this day, let us also reflect on some other dates that have forever changed our world.

On August 6, 1945, the United States military dropped the first atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. From that day forward, war changed. The monstrosity of that bomb and the one that obliterated Nagasaki three days later made real to the world that man's destructive powers were beyond all imagination. No longer was war relegated to intense fighting of a more-or-less confined geographic nature. All hell had broke loose. Razing a bunker or a building became small potatoes. In the crosshairs now were entire cities. And in man's ultimate aim to end war and find peace, he would destroy and kill whatever was necessary to achieve it -- even if it took an atomic fireball and the lives of tens of thousands.

Sure, bombs had dropped before, but nothing like "Little Boy" and "Fat Man." And as the killing potential of bombs increased, these "weapons of mass destruction" became weighty leverage in the foreign policy of nations possessing them.

The world once again changed on September 11, 2001, as commercial airliners were hijacked and turned into missiles leveled at financial and political targets along our East Coast. The fallout from this act has, in part, fueled retaliatory measures and military campaigns that have spread from Iraq to Afghanistan to Pakistan. The consequence is that today lives the world over are impacted to varying degrees by these hostilities -- whether on battlefields abroad or here in the states -- whether in the desolate foothills of some Afghan province or waiting to clear ever-tightening airport security measures enroute to Memphis. No one escapes the consequences of today's warfare.

Today -- and every day -- it is fitting to remember the sacrifices of our military and those of our servicemen and women who lay their lives on the line. Each individual member of the military is trained and prepared to offer up his or her life so others can live. Each and every member of the military leaves behind a loved one, a family, a parent or a friend as he or she is posted to duty. Each and every member of the military experiences loneliness, frustration and anxiety as he or she faces another day, another posting or another critical order.

As we pause to reflect on our military and its courageous service people, let us also remember those who have stayed at home: the wives, the husbands and the children. They, too, experience stress, loneliness and anxiety with each passing day, every worrisome news report and every upcoming deployment. Men of the Men's NetWork can be there for these families left behind. Men, we can seek out and walk beside those who wait for their loved one to return to their family table. We can pray, listen and provide real help. We can hang Christmas lights, shovel driveways, sweep sidewalks or fix a military family a meal. And then when the day's over, we can pray some more.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, we can offer words of comfort, arms of strength and deeds of kindness to those separated from their loved ones by war or military service.

"Uno Ab Alto" "Semper Fidelis" "Semper Paratus" "Non Sibi Sed Patriae!"
"Per Ardua Ad Astra" "Pro Patria" "Je me souviens" "Acer Ducimus"