Monday, February 11, 2019

Devotion 2.11.19



Any admirers of General Patton out there?

I was reading about the idea of the warrior within men and the author referenced the movie and famous speech of Patton.  In it he says, “I don’t want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position….  We are advancing constantly and we aren’t interesting in holding anything!”  If you want to watch the clip, click here (but be warned, he’s a little blue in it)
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We may not want to model ourselves on everything in Patton, but he powerfully speaks to the idea of the warrior.  This can get a bad rap and for a reason. There’s plenty of men who have taken the idea of a warrior and turned it into the right to be aggressive, demeaning, and dominate those who are less powerful than them.

But this isn’t the point of the warrior.  The warrior is about the energy that encourages us to “advance” in the face of trials. To look at the problems we have in life (whether it’s at work, home, church, or beyond) and to not sit still, but to rouse ourselves to take them head on.  It’s about taking risks to create, defend, and extend what God wants for us and those around us, even in the face of opposition.

I read that some churches have taken, “Onward Christian Soldiers” out of hymnals because it was too warlike or aggressive, but the metaphors in this song are powerful and they are Scriptural.  So I’ll close by placing the text below so we can consider how God is energizing us to take on whatever battles he has for us today.

1 Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before!
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle, see his banner go!
Refrain:
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before!
 
2 At the sign of triumph Satan's host doth flee;
On, then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell's foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise! [Refrain]
 
3 Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod;
We are not divided; all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity. [Refrain]
 
4 Onward, then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song;
Glory, laud, and honor, unto Christ the King;
This thro' countless ages men and angels sing. [Refrain]

Blessings!
Dan Borkenhagen
Associate Pastor
Hope Lutheran Church & School

Friday, February 8, 2019

Devotion 2.8.19

We’re starting a new series this week.  If you have any questions, thoughts, and comments, email me and I’d love to incorporate them.
Reminder- 2nd Saturday Men’s Breakfast is this weekend.  8:30 am at Rudy’s.

Who is the greatest king in history?

I found a list of the 10 Greatest Monarchs in world history and it was interesting to see why they were included.  Many of them focus on military accomplishments and how much territory they ruled.  But there are others who are praised for reforms in legal systems that benefitted all classes, their encouragement of the arts, freedoms granted, economic booms, and even encouragement of morality.

So what makes a “king”?
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In the book on mature masculinity I’m getting insights from for these devotions, it speaks of “king” as the first and most important archetype for men.  Very few men in history actually have been monarchs but all men draw on this concept.  The idea of a king is someone who is the father of a nation, who represents leadership even from God to the people, who cares for all people by encouraging and rewarding them, bringing calm to their fears, and stewards the resources of others.

What does this look like in regular men like us?  I like some examples from the book. This is what energizes us to take on the financial and psychological stresses of our family and be the calm in the midst of their storms while encouraging them to succeed in their own schooling, work, etc.  It’s what enables us to go to work and confront a rebellious subordinate without having to fire them.  Or to build a relationship with a coworker struggling who we encourage and support through addiction or other family crisis.  It’s the ideal that we will be a voice of calm and reassurance when things at work or church seem like they’re out of control and others are panicking.  The king cares for all and succeeds when they succeed.

Remember, “Whoever wants to be great amongst you, must become a servant.” (Matt 20:26)

Blessings!
Dan Borkenhagen
Associate Pastor
Hope Lutheran Church & School

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Devotion 2.6.19

Think of some immature actions you’ve seen lately on the part of men…  The last Texas Tech basketball game comes to mind when a West Virginia player decided to take out his frustration at a one-sided loss by tripping a Tech player.   In some cases, this behavior is simply a product of the moment.  I don’t know anything more about this young man and hopefully this action is not repeated in his life.  Other players do have reputations where they continue to lash out in childish ways (e.g. Grayson Allen or Draymond Green).
Where does this and other immature behavior come from in men?
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In most, it’s the product of what we learn in our childhoods.  Now certainly, all children are immature- even good children are immature, but there are different versions of immaturity.  The book I referenced in the last devotion, “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover” talks about this.  For example, all children start with an understanding of the world revolving around them and are learning to use what’s in their power to control others, but for some, this starts to become leadership. In others, however, this becomes “high chair tyrants”.  Think of aggressive children who make big demands and throw fits.  On the other side of the spectrum, there are some who seem passive but are actually quite manipulative.  Think of the child who sulks until they get what they want (he calls them Weakling Princes).
If these behaviors are met with mature parenting, most kids will learn what is and isn’t acceptable and will start to lead rather than manipulate or bully, but some of this behavior can continue and gets transferred into adult life.  The body is that of an adult, but the actions and moral compass are that of an immature child.  We see it in all walks of life- in our politicians (what a shock), in our bosses, in our dads, and yes, even in our church leaders.
The reality is none of us completely leaves this behind.  Every one of us falls into sinful behavior which draws on immature behaviors we learned can work from our childhood.  The key is for us to recognize this (or listen when someone confronts us with it) and repent.  Paul puts it this way in 1 Cor. 13:11:
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
Blessings!
Dan Borkenhagen
Associate Pastor
Hope Lutheran Church & School

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Devotion 2.4.19

We’re starting a new series this week.  If you have any questions, thoughts, and comments, email me and I’d love to incorporate them. 

What is, “The best a man can get?”  That’s the question posed by Gillette’s new ads that have drawn big reactions from many.  The coining of the phrase, “toxic masculinity” has also become a lightning rod for debate.
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A book was recently passed on to me by one of our members.  It’s called, “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine”.  I like the direction of this book which would have criticisms for many overreacting in both directions on this issue.  Here’s a quote.

“What is missing is not for the most part, what many depth psychologists assume is missing; that is adequate connection with the inner feminine.  In many cases, these men seeking help had been, and were continuing to be, overwhelmed by the feminine. What they were missing was an adequate connection to the deep and instinctual masculine energies, the potentials of mature masculinity.”

I’ve seen some well written articles in the recent debate that make a similar argument.  What we need is more masculinity, real and true masculinity that reflects well what God lays out for us in Scripture from Genesis 1-2 which show man’s role in caring for creation and woman all the way to Eph. 5 which calls on men to show their headship by sacrificing everything for their wives.  Too often, whether it was intended or not, the criticism of the bad actions of males was met by the argument that men needed to give up some of the traits that made them men and replace them with more “feminine” virtues.  Or perhaps needed to be led more by feminine role models.

No.

Bad forms of masculinity don’t arise by accident.  They exist because generations of men haven’t been appropriately mentored or taught and this is another impact of sin.  And just like sin breaks down everything else (including feminism) it can also break down the masculine.  And so we need to pay attention and work hard to encourage each other as men and help pass on to the next generation a strong and mature masculinity.  Over the next few weeks, we’re going to look at some of these basic roles identified by the book and look at how they line up with God’s design. 

Blessings!
Dan Borkenhagen
Associate Pastor
Hope Lutheran Church & School

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Devotion 1.31.19

Super Bowl LIII (53) is just around the corner.  New England looks well on its way to being ranked as one of the best, if not THE best, football team in the history of the game.  That's with or without a victory this Sunday.  You can say what you want about your team, if your team won more than two Super Bowls, but the crowning achievement that gets you into "best team in history" isn't just the rings.

Interestingly enough, local sports talk radio host Ryan Hyatt interviewed Michael Lombardi, a football analyst who worked for three coaches over his NFL lifetime:  Bill Walsh, Bill Belichick, and Al Davis.  Lombardi has recently written a book about the experience called Gridiron Genius: A Master Class in Winning Championships and  Building Dynasties in the NFL (2019).  He puts forth the argument that all three may be the best coaches of all time, but he certainly studied at the feet of Walsh and Belichick.

He speaks initially in the book about culture.  "Champions behave like champions before they are champions."  This quote came from Bill Walsh, who built a renaissance team in San Francisco that took football to a new level.  Lombardi notes that he was hired from college scouting ranks to be a scout for San Francisco, which meant he was Walsh's driver.  The beauty of that gig was that Walsh taught as he drove:  philosophically about building a champion, books on leadership, and sketching out his notes and talking to Lombardi as he drove him here and there.

Walsh developed a "Standard of Performance" which had 17 principles.  The first one:  "Exhibit a ferocious and intelligently applied work ethic directed at continual improvement."  Ferocious and intelligently applied....  He clearly parted ways with John Wooden who felt emotion was not the best way to build a champion, but how else can you tap into the passion of a human without finding the right emotion.  In Walsh's case, ferocity.  Attack with a purpose and do so "intelligently." Next: "Demonstrate respect for each person in the organization."

The list goes on and builds on each principal, but each also stands alone like the first two. 

In Philippians 4, the apostle Paul instructs us in a similar fashion:  "Finally brothers, whatever is honorable.., just.., pure.., lovely.., commendable.., if there is any excellence... worthy of praise, thing about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me - practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."

Do we dwell on the past? No, not in the instructions Paul gives us.  Do we stew on something?  No.  Do we fret about the here and now?  No.  What do we do?  We focus on and act on whatever his honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, or anything that is excellent.  In other words, we follow Christ and work in humility to imitate Him in our daily lives.

Our prayer is that we are followers of Christ and act in humility with one another, practicing all He has taught us.

Hope Men's Ministry

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Devotion 1.30.19

Houston had five police officers shot in the line of duty this past week.  The duty?  Entering a dangerous situation to attempt to search for weapons and drugs in a home in a community.  One of the officers suffered wounds for the third time in his career.

When I was a principal in Houston in the 1990s, there were a few times when I was called about a possible break-in at the school.  We had an alarm, so the call came, and I responded.  Each time the Houston Police (HPD) were there.  I remember how we interacted.  I'd pull up in my car, and they were out of their cars near an entrance.  I'd get out of the car making every attempt that they would know I was there on their terms, hands clearly visible and out front for them to see.  We'd shake hands and they'd ask about entrances and the building.  It was before sophisticated systems, so we didn't talk in terms of sectors and motion sensors.

HPD would tell me to stay put, and they would go in, leaving a couple outside in case the would-be burglar would be flushed out.  Only on one occasion out of the three did they catch someone.  However, every time I remember they would stand between me and harm.  The police were definitely friends of the school.  They were responsive and quick to be present.  From speaking to a class, to dealing with potential abuse, to helping with small, petty stuff (going to the house of a guy picking up his kids and cussing at one of the teachers to tell the man we didn't appreciate that).

Every time I saw them, there was a feeling of reassurance.  They were going to take care of the situation.  And the neighborhood was one of a high ethnic neighborhood, but that never seemed to enter into a conversation because the policeman may be white, black, Hispanic as well.  They behaved as though successfully resolving the situation was the most important matter at hand.

So, when I heard five were shot trying to rid a neighborhood of an undesirable element, I saw the faces of the husbands of teachers in the school who were policemen, guys I went to high school with, and policemen who came as part of the route they covered.  It could be any of them.

The words of John 15:13 come to mind at this time:  "Greater love has no one than this; to lay down his life for his friends."

We pray today for those who put themselves in harm's way for people they don't even know.  Christ laid down his life for us, and He knows us, for better and worse.  We lift up a prayer of thanksgiving for those who are willing to lay down their lives for us, regardless of who or what we are.  Through their sacrifice, we witness John 15:13 and are given a small glimpse of the sacrifice Christ paid for us.

Hope Men's Ministry

Monday, January 28, 2019

Devotion 1.29.19

The countdown to Super Bowl LIII has begun.  That would be Super Bowl 53 for those of you wanting it in plain Arabic numerals instead of Roman numerals.  During a student-led conversation in Southlake Carroll when I was working on their strategic plan, one student asked about archaic learning.  "I mean, why do we have to learn Roman numerals?" he asked.  I replied, "How else will you know which Super Bowl it is?"

The NFL, back in its day, used Roman numerals as part of its theme of real men, in battle, like gladiators in the arena.  Flags flew, men played in conditions of the open air stadium in all kinds of conditions (even the name of the arena has Roman origins), and we have memorable NFL game films done by a man who made military films in World War II, John Facenda, as the narrator (see this link to hear his familiar voice with the familiar theme the NFL used at that time).  The NFL was a man's world, and the terms were of military origin.

Clearly we no longer use Roman numerals much, nor do we really talk about football in terms of gladiators in an arena battling it out on the gridiron to ultimate victory. (Click here to hear George Carlin's comparison of baseball and football - it is funny.) . That was then.  This is now. Football has changed to fit today's much more sophisticated fan who is complex.  Fan base is younger and more diverse, so it responds differently to the culture of football than it did 30 or more years ago.  The truths of the game are that it is still a brutal sport played on a field of play.  The men today have grown stronger, bigger and faster.  Despite our opinions of how soft the men who play the game are compared to yesteryear, I would bet good money that anyone I know would not be able to walk off the field after one direct hit from a line-backer coming at you full speed, or being tracked down and blocked by a 220-pound back coming out of the backfield.

There are truths in life and there are trends.

That is true for the church.  Truths and trends.  The truth we learn early is that Christ is  "the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14) . Sharing Christ with the world so that others may learn of His redeeming love and grace is our mission.  We may use trends in life to serve as a catalyst in how we approach these truths, but the truths do not change.  The trends may not serve us well as a church in some cases, but in others, we may resist a trend because we want to stay in our comfort zones.

Another truth is that Christ didn't come to enable us to find comfort zones.  In Luke 12, Christ asks, "Do you think that I came to give peace on earth?  No, I tell you, but rather division."  Christ came to give spiritual peace, but not an earthly peace his disciples may have envisioned at the time.  To respond to the call of Christ is to set ourselves to be at odds with the world and worldliness.

We pray that we adhere to the truths found in scripture and that we zealously go out to take the good news to the lost.  This zeal may move us well away from our comfort zones, but the call of Christ isn't extended to be in comfort.  We pray that we always know the difference between truths and trends and that we use trends to serve God, not man.

Hope Men's Ministry