Posts tagged courageous men

Finding Noah



Holt Condren was 37 years old when he felt God calling him to a unique quest. It wasn’t just a quest that was different than anything he’d ever done. It was a quest that has captivated men for millenia.

He wanted to join in the expedition to find the remains of Noah’s Ark.

Holt had never climbed a large mountain, much less one like 17,000-foot Mount Ararat. He knew almost nothing about previous expeditions. He just knew that God was calling him. In fact, he didn’t even know that a group of guys had been actively searching for the Ark every year since the 1980s.

FindingNoahTeamMen like Dr. Randall Price, senior archaeologist and Director of the Center for Judaic Studies at Liberty University. He’s been on these expeditions since 2009.  Men like Bill and Will Hughes, a father-son team who take care of the mechanical needs. Men like John Bryant, an expert in geophysical modeling, brought in to operate and interpret data from ground-penetrating radar (GPR) equipment being hauled up the mountain. Men like lead mountaineer Kevin DeVries, who has already conquered the highest peaks on five continents. There are also men like expedition planner Steve Rudd, geologist Don Patton, architect Bruce Hall, and one of the founders of the modern Noah’s Ark search, Dick Bright, who has personally made over 30 expeditions.

The documentary, Finding Noah, follows the 2013 quest of Holt and his fellow Ark hunters as they use state-of-the-art methods and technology and old-fashioned perseverance to finally lay hold of physical evidence from a story not just in the Bible, but part of almost every culture across the world. With each successive exploration, information has led them nearer and nearer to what they believe to be the exact resting place of Noah’s Ark (or at least some of it). This time, they are operating with hopefulness like never before, and the documentary reveals to the public the results of their search and the sacrifices they made in the process—life-threatening weather, politically-unstable surroundings, treacherous landscapes and oxygen-starved altitudes.

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Finding Noah is a one-day event in hundreds of theaters in virtually every state on Friday, October 8. The film website directs you on how to find a showing near you or to buy tickets.

A quest for adventure isn’t the only thing these men have in common. Each has been driven individually by his faith in the veracity of God’s word that the Ark isn’t just a fable. They believe that finding the remains will be perhaps the greatest historical find in the history of the world, and will have huge ramifications in the realms of science, faith and elsewhere.

“I think there’s so much evidence that it’s irresponsible not to look,” says Patton.

“The past five years has really been a mirror into my soul. Why am I doing this year after year? Why am I risking life and limb to look for something that we have no conclusive evidence actually exists?,” asks DeVries.

These men are also driven by a mission bigger than themselves, and the fellowship of other men drawn to that same goal. In the process, they are learning the limits of themselves and the need to rely on other men to keep them going when the last bit of their own strength and resolve is virtually gone. It requires faith in your co-laborers, as well as faith in your calling in the midst of fear, Condren says.

“Without faith, it’s impossible to please God. It takes courage to exercise faith. In my own life, I almost see fear is a trail marker for life direction. What am I scared to do here in this moment? Faith is moving toward it. Sometimes it’s a small thing. But those are also courageous things.

“If you want to walk this ambitious life that God created you for, what does it look [like] to move, [to] take a step toward your fear — being courageous one step at a time — then watch God knock down the walls and give you opportunities like He’s given me to go and search for Noah’s Ark.  There’s no telling what God will do in your life if you’ll be courageous in the little things.”

© 2015 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

Courageous men and dads are warriors who protect



As a husband and father, you are the warrior who has been charged with the duty of pushing back against the evil that seeks to prey on your wife, daughters, and sons. If you don’t step up, who will?

Courageous Men Step Up

FatherProtectFromMontageIt began as a shopping date with my daughter, Laura, who was 13 at the time. I never dreamed it would end the way it did.

Laura decided that she wanted to go where her older brothers and sisters went to shop at the time—

In the store, Laura found a beautiful baby blue sweater, and she went to the dressing room to try it on. While I was waiting I noticed a life-sized poster of a young man completely nude, leaning up on a boat dock knee deep in water. The shot was from behind, but I had not asked to see that guy chilling in his birthday suit.

I stood there looking at that poster, thinking that this was a clothing store, and how inappropriate that poster was for my daughter and other girls to see. Finally, I asked if I could please talk with the manager. The young man, who couldn’t have been over 30, came over and I greeted him with a smile. I shared with him that I had six children and was a good customer; then I said very kindly, “This picture … I’m sorry, but it’s just indecent.”  I thought I’d get agreement. Abercrombie and Fitch.

Instead he quipped, “I beg to differ with you, sir. By whose standards?”

A little stunned by his response, I replied with measured firmness, “By any standard of real morality.”

By that time, Laura had wandered back with her sweater. I pointed to the picture of the chiseled, buff-buddy’s buns, looked the manager squarely in the eyes, and said, “Sir, if that picture is not indecent, then I’d like you to drop your pants and get in a similar pose to that guy in the picture.”

He looked at the picture, then my daughter, and back at me. He looked like a deer in the headlights. There was a moment of silence, full of anticipation. Then he shook his head and said, “Huh-uh.”

I probably shouldn’t have pressed the point, but I added, “Come on, you said that picture is not indecent. Come on, drop ’em.”

“Huh-uh.”

I smiled and said, “You know, it’s a good thing you didn’t drop your pants, because you could have been arrested for indecent exposure.”

Then he replied, “Well, if you think that’s bad, you should see our catalog.”

So I went over and opened the catalog. One photo showed four teenage girls in bed with a boy; I’m not sure what they were advertising — maybe bedsheets — because none of them had clothes on. I pushed the catalog back and said, “I’d like you to take my name and phone number. I’d like someone from your corporate office to give me a call.”

To which he politely said, “Sir, I can take your name and address but they’re not interested. They really don’t care what you think.”

My response was kind, but firm: “I just want you to know I’m just one customer. I’m just a daddy of six kids, but I’ve got a lot of friends. And I want you to know that wherever I go, I’m going to use this episode as an illustration of a company that doesn’t care about the future of our young people, their morality, or the future of our nation.”

I figure I’ve shared the story with about five million people on various radio broadcasts, speaking at conferences, and in writing.

Courageous men protect

One of my favorite quotes, attributed to British politician Edmund Burke, is

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” 

When evil invades a man’s life and marriage, his children’s lives, his work, and his community, the easiest thing for him to do is nothing.

As a husband and father, you are the warrior who has been charged with the duty of pushing back against the evil that seeks to prey on your wife, daughters, and sons. If you don’t step up, who will?

When you think of protecting your family, perhaps the first things that come to mind are keeping your house locked, or holding on to your child’s hand on a crowded sidewalk, investigating a strange sound downstairs in the middle of the night, or teaching your children about what to do if the house is on fire. But as I’ve looked at my responsibilities as protector at home, I’ve realized that they go further. For example:

  • I have established boundaries to protect my marriage. I’m doing battle for my marriage when I don’t meet with a woman by myself unless the door is open or there is a window so that others can observe. I do not have lunch with other women alone. I do not travel alone in a car with other women. I copy my wife, Barbara, on e-mails written to women, and I don’t have private conversations with women on social websites without her knowing. At the same time, I do battle for my marriage by helping Barbara with household chores, taking her on dates and getaways, and spoiling her with an occasional gift to her liking.
  • I protected my children by training them in the choices they would make. I organized weekend getaways with both sons in their early teens to discuss peer pressure, dating, sex, pornography, alcohol, and more stuff the culture was throwing at them. I continued these conversations with my sons through the years — we even talked about things like dealing with girls who pursue them sexually, and what to do if they see a fight breaking out at school. In addition, Barbara and I made a big effort to get to know our kids’ friends — especially once they reached junior high and peer pressure kicked into high gear. We wanted to be aware of the good influences and the potential bad ones.
  • I protected my daughters by dating them and, later, by interviewing their dates. On these dates I showed them how a young man was to take care of them, what they should expect from a guy, and how to deal with sexual overtures. I explained why it was important to dress modestly, and I did it at an early age before they experienced much peer pressure on the issue. I met with their dates and made it clear to each young man that I expected him to keep his hands off my daughter.
  • I protected my family by working with Barbara to set up boundaries about media. We set standards on the types of films and television programs we would watch. We made rules about when and where they could access the internet, and talked about how to protect their privacy and how to guard against sexual predators. If I was a father with children at home today, I’d also be setting boundaries on cell phones, texting, and video games, and I’d install porn filters on all computers.

A trained warrior also has battlefield vision that anticipates the future.  He scans the horizon and assesses dangers that are coming so that he can prepare for them. And he realizes he is never off duty.

Courageous men are warriors in the community and boardroom

Not only does America need warriors at home, but it also needs men willing to use their influence to protect their communities and even the nation.

Like my friend, Scott Ford, former CEO of a large wireless phone network, who told me of the pressure he felt from stockholders who wanted to increase the company’s profits by putting pornography on the mobile phones they sell. Scott stood firm and many times stood alone.

Robert Rowling, whose holding company owns Omni Hotels, is another corporate warrior. He pulled all the pornography out of his hotels at a cost of more than $6 million, reasoning that if he didn’t want his sons to view that stuff, why should he make it possible for other men or their sons to stumble?

The Scriptures contain a simple admonition that men of all ages need to take to heart today:

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

Men, we are in the midst of a cosmic conflict of good versus evil. Wars are made up of battles, and battles demand a few good men who assume the responsibility of warriors and fight.

Many of you are not corporate leaders, but you may have the opportunity to step up in other ways. Perhaps it will be taking a stand against deceptive practices in the company where you work, or speaking out against sexual harassment, or talking with your child’s teacher if he or she shows an inappropriate film during class.

It takes courage for a man to step out and push back against evil. It will mean that you don’t go with the flow. You can’t fight every battle, but you can get involved when opportunities come your way.

When men don’t step up, the cost of doing nothing means that indecency, immorality, and other aberrant behaviors become the new norm in the culture. Our children and grandchildren will pay the ultimate price if we turn our heads. When men are not warriors, when men don’t push back against evil with good, the evil we were meant to conquer turns around and preys upon us and our descendants (see Isaiah 59:11-15).

In all these various engagements with the culture and others, real men are firm, but gracious. Having convictions does not give a man the license to be rude or pummel another person with his beliefs. Truth and love must be kept in proper tension with one another.

Courageous men step out and into the battle

Be ready!  You never know when you will come face-to-face with an issue that demands courage and stepping up.

A number of years ago a couple of our teens attended a junior high dance. Barbara and I decided we’d drop in unexpectedly and check it out. As we entered the darkened dance floor we saw about 30 kids off in the darkest corner, doing a dance called “freaking.” Now if you haven’t seen this, trust me, it’s an imitation of intercourse, but with clothes on.

A handful of parents were huddled near a light in a corner watching, grousing and complaining about what they saw, but generally doing nothing.

I walked past the parents and went over and stood near the swaying crowd. I watched as two boys drew a young lady in between them. As I stood there deciding what to do, my palms grew clammy, sweating with anticipation. I thought, Here I am, a 45-year-old man, and I’m afraid of what a couple of pimple faced, 14-year-old boys think about me? 

I finally concluded, What they’re doing is absolutely indecent. It’s ridiculous for me to cave in to fear!

So I stepped into the crowd of “freaking” dancers and tapped one of the young men on the shoulder. I smiled sternly and told him to knock it off. I challenged him to treat the young lady with dignity and respect.

He had a very blank look on his face. I could see him thinking, Whatever… 

His response didn’t matter, because one small step had brought victory. Feeling more courageous, I approached another trio of gyrating teens and busted them up. I looked over my shoulder and a bunch of dads were now joining me.

Here’s the point, guys: God made us to pierce the darkness. He didn’t make us to fight every battle, but He did make us to stand for truth, to embrace standards. And when men don’t embrace beliefs they are paralyzed and neutralized by the culture. They won’t step forward and can’t step up because they don’t have the mandate of truth resonating in their souls. In the absence of real men pushing back against evil, the culture continues its downward spiral and becomes increasingly shameless and vulgar.

Do not be overcome by evil. Step up and kindly overcome evil with good.

Share a time when you stepped up, out, or into a situation as a man of courage and it made a difference …

 

You can hear Dennis Rainey on our radio program, FamilyLife Today.

Adapted by permission from Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood, ©2011 Dennis Rainey, FamilyLife Publishing.

3 storms that rob men of courage



In 2003, Hurricane Isabel slammed into the East Coast of the United States, lashing North Carolina and Virginia, then moving north all the way to Canada, leaving 16 dead and cutting power to six million homes. The edges of the hurricane passed through Washington, DC, prompting the President and members of Congress to find safer ground.

men of courage

That was not the case at Arlington National Cemetery, where guards have relentlessly stood vigil at the Tomb of the Unknowns every hour of every day since July 1, 1937. When the hurricane hit, the soldiers remained at their posts even though they were given permission to seek shelter.

That’s what a soldier does. He acknowledges the storm, but he doesn’t give in to it. He stands firm.

As a friend told me, “If these men can stand guard over the dead, how much more important is it that I stand guard over the living — my wife and children?”

Watch a clip of interviews with these guards:

Like these soldiers, we are called to stand and do our duty while staring down the very storms that seek to rob us men of courage, taunting and tempting us to neglect our duty and abandon our posts. These storms are packing some power. Are you ready for them?

Storm #1: Damnable Training by Fathers

I once met a man who grew up in a remote section of our country. He admitted that the only advice he received as a boy from his father about women was

  • Get ’em young.
  • Treat ’em rough.
  • Tell ’em nothing.

I wonder how that advice worked for him in his marriage.

You could say this is a legacy of the “strong, silent, tough man” image often passed down from father to son. This is the type of misguided training in manhood that has corrupted so many men as the leaders in their homes — selfish men who control their wives and children so that their own needs are met.

And that’s just one part of the problem. Many boys grow up with fathers who are distant and passive. Fathers who rarely engage their families, and when they do, their half-hearted attempts to train their sons may promote irresponsible, or even immoral, behavior. Like the father whose idea of sex education for his twelve-year-old son was to take him to a strip joint. There they sat for three hours as the women did their thing onstage. No words were spoken. When they arrived home later that night, the dad told his wife, “There, I did it! Now I’m going to bed.”

Another son told me about the knock at his door as he packed to go to college. His father handed him a small paper bag with this sage advice, “Don’t be foolish son — use ’em.”

You could likely tell your own story of how you were trained or abandoned by your father. Too many men today were raised by fathers who didn’t step up to their responsibilities. Is it any wonder we have a generation of men who feel lost and aimless, not knowing how to face their fears or think rightly about themselves, women, and their own passions?

Storm #2: Fatherless Families

The relentless, howling winds of a culture of divorce have uprooted the family tree with it at least two generations of men. With our high divorce rates and the increasing number of births to single women (nearly four out of ten children are born to an unwed mother), the number of children in the United States who live in a single-parent household has more than doubled since 1978.

Children are the innocent victims of this raging storm. The bottom line: dad is AWOL in far too many homes today. This phenomenon has prompted David Blankenhorn, founder of the Institute for American Values, to pronounce that the fatherless family “is a social invention of the most daring and untested design. It represents a radical departure from virtually all of human history and experience.”

Stepping Up - Dennis Rainey

The social implications of fatherless families are endless. For example, the greatest predictor of a child dropping out of high school, committing a crime, and going to prison is a home without a dad. Many young people grow up today in areas where the only adult male role models they know are live-in boyfriends or gang leaders. The fallout has only just begun: a crop of weak young men and frustrated women who are looking for real men.

One of the greatest challenges any boy could endure is trying to become a man without a father to show him how. How can a boy know what it looks like to behave as a man, love like a man, and be a man in the battle if the main man in his life has abandoned him? My friend, Crawford Loritts, works with young men to build their skills as leaders. He writes that the issue of courage keeps coming up in their conversations:

Many of [these young men] grapple with fear. … I think that the dismantling of our families over the past fifty years or so has almost institutionalized fear and uncertainty. Divorce, the rise of single-parent households, and the tragic assortment of abuses and dysfunctions in our families have produced a generation with many young people who are afraid of risk, and afraid to make mistakes.

So many of our young men grew up in homes in which they had limited or no contact with their fathers, or they had dads who were detached and didn’t provide any meaningful leadership. We are left with a legacy of men who, in varying degrees, have been feminized. They are uncertain about who and what a man is, and how a man acts and behaves. They are fearful of assuming responsibility and taking the initiative in charting direction.

Storm #3: A Culture of Confusion

My son came home one weekend from his university — a large southern school not exactly known for being the center for liberal thought — and shared with me that he had been taught in class that there weren’t two sexes but five: male, female, homosexual male, homosexual female, and transgender. No wonder young men are confused and young women are left wondering where the real men are!  We’re living in a multiple-choice culture: are you an A, B, C, D, or E? Male sexuality and identity have become a bewildering array of options.

Think of what it must be like for young boys growing up today. Media outlets and educational elites attack the traditional roles of men and claim that a man who seeks to be a leader in his family is actually oppressing his wife and children. Our culture is permeated with sexuality, where children are exposed to explicit messages and distorted images at a far younger age than their parents were. The educational system doesn’t seem to know how to teach boys, and as a result, girls are leaping ahead in test scores, college enrollment, and graduation rates. Boys are increasingly medicated because their parents don’t know how to channel their masculinity, adventure, and drive.

Is it any wonder that boys grow up so confused?

“I don’t know how to do family.”

In the wake of these storms lies a generation of men who don’t know how to be men. They don’t know how to have real relationships — with women, with their children, or with other men. And many grow up with what I call a courage deficit — they have little idea what men of courage look like, or what types of courageous choices they need to make as they move through their lives. One of these men came to my front door one Saturday morning. I’ll never forget him standing sheepishly in the doorway. “Mr. Rainey, in the past couple of years, I’ve gotten married and had two children,” he said, “and I’ve determined that I don’t know how to do marriage. And I don’t know how to do family. Could you help me?” This young man articulated what millions of young men are feeling today — inadequate, fearful, angry, and in desperate need of manhood training and vision.

So, have you been robbed of courage?

What are the storms you’ve encountered?  Did you see courage modeled well in your home?  Do you have a foundational plan to help you walk through the obstacles in your life?  These are real issues in our lives.  Until we get at the root of our storms, we will be in turbulent waters.  Only when we are investing our lives into other men and allowing them to invest in us, all under the guidance of God and His Holy Spirit, we can’t find peace in this place for the storms we face as men.  Is your home safe in the storms of life?

Excerpted with permission from Stepping Up, by Dennis Rainey, FamilyLife Publishing, 2012.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklistYou just finished reading “3 storms that rob men of courage” by Dennis Rainey on the Stepping Up blog

STEPThink - 10-point checklistWhat’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done? Listen to men on the street try to answer this question

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistHear the true meaning of Christ-centered courage discussed on the FamilyLife Today radio broadcast

STEPPass - 10-point checklistAre you or your friends needing a shot of courage? Do a Stepping Up small group video series together

12 things I teach the men I mentor



Here are some of the topics (not comprehensive) and related resources that I teach those I mentor:

1. The truth about who God is … to fear Him and know His character.  Read the book, The Knowledge of the Holy, by A.W. Tozer

2. The danger of pride, arrogance, a self-focused heart, and the importance of maintaining a teachable heart.  Read:  Humility: The Beauty of Holiness, by Andrew Murray.

3. The necessity of basing one’s life, convictions, and decisions on the Scriptures.  Read:  The Book of Proverbs (one a day for a month).

4. How to handle adversity and suffering.  Read:  Job and I Peter

5. The importance of embracing personal purpose and mission.  Read: The Purpose-Driven Life, by Rick Warren, and Matthew 28:19-20.

6. How to love your wife , lead her spiritually and help her develop as a woman.  Read: The Christian Husband, by Bob Lepine.

7. How to spiritually lead your family. Read: Growing a Spiritually Strong Family.

8. The importance of relationships in life.  God, wife, family and male friendships.    Read:  The Great Commandment in Matthew 22:36-40.

9. The importance of the fifth commandment in the 10 Commandments — honoring your father and mother.  Read: Exodus 20:12 and The Forgotten Commandment.

10. How to guard their hearts.  Read: Proverbs 4:23.

11. Life skills — dealing with debt, schedule and priorities, ethics at work, and other issues. Read: Building Your Mate’s Self Esteem.

12.  The importance of a legacy that honors and glorifies God.  Read: I Peter 4:11.

For more information on mentoring (either being mentored or being a mentor) check out FamilyLife’s eMentoring pages.

 

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