PART TWO IN THE FAMILY SERIESWebster's dictionary define's Legacy as "something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past". In other words, Legacy is sort of like "passing the torch" from one generation to another.
Many of us who are parents (of any age), most likely, did not grow up in a household where this was taught or expected. It may have been implicitly known, but never formally recognized and never made a ceremony. Societies of old, even some in agrarian America (pre-1800's Industrial age), practiced rites of passage where a young person is transitioned from a teen into adulthood.
In the purely honorable and biblical sense, this is a good thing. The Jews bar-mitzvah their boys where on the boy's 13th birthday wherehe is required to start keeping the 'mitzvos' or Laws of God. The new teen is now a "son of the Commandment"! All Jewish men must keep these. Of course, in essence and truth, no one can keep all 613 Laws and commandments. The Catholic and mainline equivalent of this is Confirmation, but it is nothing compared to a Bar Mitzvah!
I did not grow up in any of these systems, except for the Confirmation part. Being one of six children, I was very close to my father until he died suddenly of a heart attack at the young age of 51. I was only 11 and it basically wrecked my life for decades. For most of my life, I had no positive male influence after that, except for my youth group leader who, thankfully, took me on missions trips and youth events. My male relatives' favorite hobby was not the Word of God (except for Christmas and Easter morning church), but drinking and partying.
At the Catholic prep school I attended, I began a search for the meaning of Life. Existentialism and Albert Camus attracted me. I looked into all religions and found them all wanting. I thought manhood was a form of religion and then, mostly wine, women and song. Fortunately, my family and school-trained morality never allowed me to pursue a life of wanton lust. When I was finally saved in 1988, by the Spirit of the Living God, and gave up fleshly pursuits, I still had nowhere to turn. I remember sitting in a chapel on top of a mountain, going "what now, Lord"?! I took time off work, as my encounter with the Living Jesus was at 4am August 16, 1988 on a work day!
Fast forward to 1996 and my first Promise Keepers event at Soldier Field in Chicago and am in a new thing called a small group, where men are supposed to confess their Father Wounds and talk and pray about it. This did not freak me out, as long before I was saved, I was briefly part of the charismatic Catholic movement of the early 1970's. But it was still new. I had no Father wound, having no father to speak of, after age 11!
What followed was years and years of going to men's conferences and seeking advice or counsel from older men, who could or would teach me the Ways of the Lord.
MENTORING & FATHER IN THE FAITH
For the most part, I still had and have no real mentor but the Holy Spirit. He has led me to the Knowledge of all Truth and Wisdom in Christ. He has counseled me... upbraided me... disciplined me... brought me low... led me to my knees...had me on my face...and more! I do have a wonderful older brother in faith, a retired pastor named Doc, who speaks Truth and Prayer into my life for years now....and whom I trust with my life! Every man should have an older man as his spiritual guide, brother and friend, to whom he can turn, at any time!
Through it all, God has given me a passion and zeal for Jesus and the Bible which NO ONE and I mean nobody, can take away! Jesus is my First and Second Nature now.
All of this is a long introduction to say, I am like every other man who had no formal introduction to becoming a Man of God and neither was I given a Legacy. But when God saved me and then gave me two sons, He expected me to start one of my own -BASED ON HIM!
To that end, I have raised my sons - Bernie (19) and Sam (16) - to be men of God. Not only have they grown up in the church, but for years, I took them to Promise Keepers men's events with me, where 13 and 11 year old boys got to hang out with Jesus loving, Spirit-worshiping men of God in the open and then eat out at at IHOP in St Louis or Peoria!
My sons have gone with me to several parades each time for many years, passing out hundreds of gospel tracts and still do when I ask. They minister all the time now with us at senior homes and in the churches we are invited to over the years. But still, that is not enough. I am not a pastor, even though I am must be the only licensed Five Fold Southern Baptist minister I know, who can preach in either a Baptist, Bible, Nazarene or Pentecostal church! God has made a way.
Our boys - Sam and Bernie - can do all the "Christianese", which have led many a PK (Pastor Kid) astray, and still not be walking with the Lord. I know that too well, since with the Spirit's leading, I had to bring myself up in the Ways of God over 20 plus years!
I wanted my sons to be real Men of God! So how do I do that? Where do I turn? Fortunately, before I became the President of Business Men in Christ, a powerful and growing men's ministry here in Central Illinois, I was part of a movement which came out of Fellowship Bible Church, Little Rock, Arkansas. Developed by Dr. Robert Lewis, this movement - Mens Fraternity -really changed my life, starting in 2001-2002.
My good friend and our youth leader at the time was a man named Bryan McKenzie, who was once a linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons, and had the same burning fire for Christ. He brought this new thing to us called THE GREAT ADVENTURE, and this did it! I not only stopped chasing windmills or reading books about Jesus, but found out how He wired me for His Word; found myself in Him and the Bible only and have been flying high on the Holy Ghost since!
Now, 11 years later, I can't wait for the next day or the next event to pass on to my sons....or to share the Truth with someone else. I met Dr. Lewis, who created this now worldwide phenomenon in the men's ministry movement at the Southern Baptist Convention (I left the Catholic church a couple decades ago now). Dr. Lewis took one look at me and with a huge smile on his face said "you're living the Great Adventure, aren't you?"! This was in 2006 and I love that guy!
AUTHENTIC MANHOOD - LEGACY OF THE SON...for my sons.
We are now not just Father and Son but co-inheritors of the kingdom.
What I have done over the past almost six weeks and sessions of this curriculum is have Dr. Lewis teach us on DVD what an Authentic Man really is. This is not just Four Pillars of a Man's Heart stuff. This is bold in your face manhood - from the Bible.
What my sons and I are growing into as a knowledge of not just how the First Adam screwed up royally in the Garden, by watching a stinking serpent deceive his wife and then sin with her, but how the Second Adam - JESUS - corrected all of that perversion for eternity!
The best gift a Father can pass on to a son is Jesus and WHO they ARE in HIM. We have enough bibles in this house to supply half a village...and have done so through a ministry called Love Packages (which sends used bibles to Third World countries). What boys need to learn from their elders and dads mostly, is how to WALK out all that talk in the Bible about David and Paul and Peter etc!
We have learned the Four characteristics of a man - the Warrior, King, Friend and Lover.
We have learned the following four Attributes of an Authentic man of God:
- An Authentic man is NOT like Adam, so he rejects Passivity and will not stand by and watch everyone or everything God has given us to be stewards of, go down the drain!
- An Authentic man accepts responsibility! Through a couple fender benders and now part time jobs as well as school, both sons are learning not just money management but a level of responsibility to family.
- An Authentic man leads courageously! Long before the movie Courageous came out, we were walking that road. But by taking the kids to see it, the message of Courageous manhood, fathers and more has been driven home to them, fearlessly!
- An Authentic man expects God's greater reward! I am not talking about what awaits us in heaven, in our Father's House. The reward is a life lived well RIGHT NOW! The minute one is saved, eternity begins! Many in the church don't see it because to their stuffed shirt pastors, that sounds like charismatic stuff! Well, it ain't! The moment we are now fully a saved and rescued follower of Christ, we are brought into the Eternal Kingdom and can access everything from eternity past as we await eternity future! This is when the Bible comes alive! This is when what Moses wrote in Genesis speaks loudly of His Wonderful matchless Grace! This is Authentic Manhood!
The Reward of an Authentic Man of God is watching his Legacy - his sons - grow into their destiny as they become their OWN men of God, because you brought them up in the way they should go! The great disciple John said this "Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. (3 John 1:2-4 ESV)
Finally, as we go through this Legacy building, I plan a ceremony where my two sons and I will be sealing this knowledge into our hearts. This is not going to be some medieval rites of passage! I actually plan something they can do with their own sons someday, if Jesus has not yet returned.
I am gathering two of my older bibles; writing letters to them and getting them a compass and some other personal items that mean a lot to me. I have obtained certain audio teachings called Affections of a Godly man....or how a real man loves God (through Jesus).These items will placed in a box for each son. I will take them to the best barbeque restaurant in town where we will hang out in a private booth and well, the rest will be all Spirit led! Amen!
Have any of us arrived? No! But we have arrived at a moment in time, where we either seize it or throw in the towel. I refuse to let my life go by, without passing on a blessing and legacy to our children. You too can do this. If I am able to assist anyone interested in learning about Authentic Manhood or men's or senior's ministry, feel free to drop me a line here:
To God be the Glory, through Jesus Christ the King, amen.
FRIDAY: BUILDING A LEGACY THROUGH MY DAUGHTER
SATURDAY/SUNDAY: THE FAMILY - LIVING FOR GOD!