Archive for April, 2009

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A Father’s Love- King Triton

April 21, 2009

The Little Mermaid is one of my daughter’s favorite movies.  From the crazy one-liners to the fantastic musical scores, this particular movie ranks #1 with many little girls.  I particularly like the wonderful correlation of this movie to Scripture.  We are going to explore several of the themes present in this film, but today, we will start with a father’s love using King Triton.

The parallels between King Triton’s love and devotion to his children and that of Christ’ love and devotion to us is almost too overwhelming.  Granted, King Triton is one of the Greek Gods, just indulge me as we go over possible lessons for you to teach your children about our father’s love.

1.  King Triton’s overprotective nature. One of the first attributes one picks up from King Triton is his apparent phobia of Ariel going to the surface.  We can see his true motive is love for his daughter and concern for her safety, but just like all of us, Ariel seems to think there is more to it.

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies will hover over Jerusalem  and protect it like a bird protecting its nest.He will defend and save the city;  he will pass over it and rescue it.”  – Isaiah 31:5

We often forget how our God urges us to stay away from those environments potentially harmful to us.  In the verse above, God’s protection is compared to a bird protecting its nest, ready to defend and save the occupants.  Unfortunately, like Ariel, many of us do not heed the protective words of our Savior, choosing rather to chase our own inhibitions.  We soon find out that our bad decisions still affect our father.

2.  When we go missing, the Father calls an all out search. I love the quote from the movie where King Triton tells one of those searching for his missing daughter, “Leave no stone unturned, no one rests until my little girl is found.”  Wow, what a statement about a father’s love.  When we “go missing” from our Father’s will, there is a similar search for us.  In fact, Christ mentions how God will search out for the 1 lost lamb, bringing it home gently on his shoulders.

As a child, I often heard of God’s wrath or his disdain for my sins, but rarely did I hear of how he would “leave no stone unturned” when I would go missing from his will.  We need to convey this aspect of Christ’ love for us to our children.  Daily, they experience the sometimes fickle nature of human love, but we fail them in teaching them how Christ’ love truly surpasses our understanding.  Jesus came and turned over the one stone that kept us from him… in fact, he it was rolled away Easter morning!

3.  When our sins seemed to bind us to the Enemy, our Father gave himself as a ransom. Perhaps the most compelling scene of the movie was when King Triton, against the wishes of his pleading daughter, signs the contract with Ursela in her stead.  After all, this is what the great enemy wanted after all.  The evil sea witch was no more interested in Ariel, but rather, sought to bring down Triton the entire time.

Our Enemy works in much the same way.  Explain to your children how God sent his son to sign our contract.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

– Romans 6:23

What a great verse to use when explaining this particular concept, using this particular scene.  Christ paid the ultimate costs of our bad decisions.  Like the character of Triton, our Heavenly Father made this decision without a second thought.  He signed for our transgressions so that we might live.  What a mighty lesson to instill in our children.

Of course, King Triton is not in any league with our God, but it does provide us a great platform to open dialogue with our children about the depths of our Father’s love for us.  There are so many more similarities in the movie that I have not covered in this post.

Here’s a great idea for you to consider.  Let your children know prior to watching the movie the similarities of Triton’s love to our Heavenly Father’s love.  Have them be on the look out throughout the movie for different instances where the similarities are apparent.  You might be surprised what they come up with.  And better yet, you might just learn something new yourself!

If you would like more in this series, please be sure to check out the other articles in Using Movies to Witness.

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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The Lord Looks at the Heart

April 17, 2009

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

– 1 Samuel 16:7

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Selfish Desires – Seagulls

April 15, 2009

If anyone has seen the movie, Finding Nemo, everyone remembers the seagulls.  Their famous, repetitive phrase, “MINE!” reverberates in my ears every time I hear a seagull overhead. (If you click on the image, it will take you to a rough clip of the scene we will be discussing.) I have three children and much like the seagulls, I hear “MINE!” more times than I care to think.  It seems like one of the first of original sins is that of selfishness.

Although this is a funny scene, this depiction might allow you an opportunity to talk some about selfishness with your children.  Many of us would jump at the opportunity to take this subject head on, especially emphasizing the problems caused by sibling selfishness.  I would like to challenge you to take the message deeper and help your children understand what the Bible teaches us about selfish desires, and potential “end scenes” if this problem goes undiagnosed.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.

– Matthew 16:24

Christ talks specifically about selfishness in many of his parables, but in this verse, he takes it head on.  I love how he states, “If you want to be my follower…” Deep down, I believe we all struggle with selfishness from time to time and to go even further, selfishness will often prohibit us from truly following Christ and going “All in,” if you will.  How many times do you think we sound like the seagulls in this scene to Christ?  Whether it be with our finances and the issue of tithing or simply, giving more of our time to the Kingdom by getting up earlier in the morning, we all usually tell Christ “MINE!”

So what are some of the lessons you could teach your children using the Seagulls in Finding Nemo?

1.  Selfishness will ultimately blind and bind you! One of my favorite parts of the clip is how the pelican is able to get away from the nagging seagulls in hot pursuit of what they claim as theirs.  In my humble opinion, it is a great example of how we could also use another great passage from Matthew:

But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
– Matthew 7:14

Just like the pelican, one who is unselfish is able to narrowly pass through openings most will not see, nor be able to pass through.  The seagulls, so blinded by their selfishness, were unable to see the narrow opening in the sail and soon found themselves bound in the sail itself.

2.  Selfishness is annoying not only to parents, but also to God. Although this particular clip is funny the first time, if you were to consistently here, “MINE!” all day, it would become rather annoying.  I would have to imagine this clip is a small commercial of what Christ often hears from those who love him.  MINE!  In one of the earlier scenes, the pelican is actually agitated by the constant gawking of gulls and tells them loudly to hush up. (he uses different words though)  The sound of selfishness to Christ has to be just as annoying and disheartening.  Christ left us constant reminders to be unselfish in our giving, just as he was.  Take some time to explain to your children how selfishness can lead to various other sins of the flesh.  It starts out annoying, but if left unchecked, it could become deadly.

3. It’s hard to stop. I laugh to myself when I think of how many times I am much like those gulls who are stuck in the the sail yet still manage to say, “MINE!”  Selfishness can become deeply rooted and this is a great reason to urge you to help teach your children about selfishness now!  Don’t you wish someone would have helped you earlier in life with this issue?  I know if the issue of “MINE!” would have been dealt with earlier in my life, perhaps I would not be wishing I had not spent so much time, money, sleepless nights, and other investments in chasing what I thought I was entitled to.

Before preaching to your children about selfishness,  I would strongly urge you to sift through the topic in your own walk.  Personally, I struggle with my selfish desires for something as simple as sleep.  I like sleep, but don’t see much of it.  I believe the last time I slept all night may have been prior to children.   I go through great lengths to defend my naptime on Saturdays and Sundays.  My schedule revolves around them and I wake up thinking about the next time I will be able to lay down.  Where most have something called sleep apnea, I have “lack of sleepaphobia.”

Sure, it’s funny, but I wonder if there are other things in my life that when Christ calls me to a deeper union with him, all I can respond with is “MINE!”

If you would like more in this series, please be sure to check out the other articles in Using Movies to Witness.

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Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Bruce the Shark- Knowing your Enemy

April 13, 2009

I know the movies created by PIXAR are supposed to be for kids, but they can also be great vessels to be used by Christ to teach us.  It may be too far of a stretch for some, but I guess the number of years I spent as a Youth Minister has slighted me to think this way.  One of my favorites is Finding Nemo.  What a story and what a load of characters!  There are so many biblical implications strewn throughout the movie, I would hardly know where to begin.

If you have not seen the movie, Nemo’s father is wondering about the ocean, looking for his son when he first encounters a shark who calls himself Bruce.  Initially, Bruce seems to be a jolly, fish-eater in recovery. One of my favorite lines recited by Bruce and his friends is, “Fish are friends, not food.”  Although they repeat this a couple of times, you begin to notice how the sharks’ natural urges begin taking over from time to time.

You know, Nemo’s dad knew that something was not right with the whole situation.  Regardless of how the sharks talked about not eating fish and went to their little meetings, deep down, his primal urge was still to avoid Bruce and his friends.  Although the sharks were very well behaved during their meeting, especially their leader Bruce, there was one instance that brought out the true animal within. Dory eventually bumps into something, causing a little bit of her blood to be in the water.  In an instant, the primal urges consume Bruce and he once again becomes the fish-eating machine.

So what are some of the lessons you can talk to your kids about using Bruce the Shark?

1.  Although the Enemy seems ok to talk to, it is only an act! Our children will find out all too quickly that the world will tempt us with wonderful ideals that all fizzle out to become spirit-threatening predators.  Talk with your children about how prayer and discernment can alert us to the “Bruces” of life.

2.  The Blood will expose the Enemy. Notice the blood brings out the predator in Bruce.  Explaining how the Blood of the Lamb will expose the Enemy’s predator nature might save your child from potential downfalls.  For that matter, this might be a lesson some adult Christians could stand to learn.  Unfortunately, the Enemy has had many years of training in the art of deception and lies.  Helping your child understand one of Satan’s greatest ploys by using this character as an example is one of the best things we can do as fathers!

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  – 1 Peter 5:8

If you would like more in this series, please be sure to check out the other articles in Using Movies to Witness.

Have new posts delivered right to your email, click here.
Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
Share/Save/Bookmark

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Announcement: How to Use Movies to Witness to your Children

April 11, 2009

Just wanted to give you a head’s up that we will begin a side series for you beginning Easter Monday.  In this series, we will use common movies like those by PIXAR and Disney and explore the biblical themes hidden in them.  This will hopefully give some of our readers the ability to talk more about Christ to their children, using something that will help children better understand.  For that matter, using cartoons and other children’s movies might make us all understand better!

If you have any suggestions~ Send them my way!

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Just the Word-A Good Friday Lesson

April 10, 2009

This past weekend, my wife and I took our children to Lifeway Christian stores.  As part of our Easter gift to them, we let each of the three pick out a new Bible.

The oldest, Braxton, is especially interested in reading things for himself.  After some bantering back and forth, he had his hopes locked in on a particular Bible that had a lot of pictures and very few words.  We looked around a bit and found the new Veggie Tales Bible which is a nice transition from the kids’ Bible to the more adult Bible.  One look at it, and he determined he didn’t want it.

I decided to work some “parental magic” on him and diplomatically got him to bring the Veggie Tale Bible with him as we walked over to where the Adult Bibles were.  I picked up one of the NIVs off of the shelf and sat down with him.  I selected a Scripture passage in the bible I had and had Braxton turn to the same passage in his.  Since I knew how much Braxton wanted to learn about Scripture, I thought the best way to get him to step up is to show him how similar the Veggie Tales Bible was to the “big person Bible.”

After I read the passage from the Bible I had, Braxton read the same passage out of his and instantly, his little face brightened with a smile.  Now, as a parent, I thought silently to myself, “I won!”  It was a short-lived victory because the lesson to be learned in this situation was not for Braxton, but rather more for me.

Braxton asked if he could look at my Bible and as he looked through it, he simply looked at me and said, “I don’t want the Veggie Tale Bible, I want this one.”  I spent some time trying to tell him that one was too old for him and that he needed to start out with the other one.  He said he didn’t want a Bible with any pictures in it.  Why?  His reason, simply put, struck my core.  With simple innocence, Braxton looked at me and gave me his reasoning:

“I just want the Word.”

I couldn’t hardly find any words to tell him no.  In fact, I was so busy trying to hold back tears that speaking was simply a bystander thought.  Granted, Braxton most likely meant he only wanted one with words, however, my spirit knew what Christ was saying through him to me.  And as you can see, a week later, the situation still consumes me.

How often do we spend Easter or Christmas focusing on what to wear to service, who’s going to get what, and what songs will be sung at church?  I know personally,  I have read several blogs this week talking about how to make the service more “attractive” or “inciting” to the visiting lost.  Churches will practice new songs, bring additional people into the choir, have additional services, but what is the real reason?

I guess as I sit and ponder upon Good Friday and think of Christ’ life, death, and resurrection, I am awestruck.  Jesus didn’t have the grand pianos, large choirs, or anything similar to Power Point, he simply had the Word.  After all, John 1 tells us he was the Word. And with only the Word, he drew masses of people.  In fact, you could say his sermon on the Mount was the first “mega-church.”

I am not, in any way, knocking the intense focus on making the Easter Celebration a grand event.  After all, it is worth more than any show, service, or anything we could ever put on.  I guess Braxton’s words just struck my core, challenging me to wonder how often I go to church looking for the “pictures on the page”.  Rather, I hope I begin having my heart, mind, soul, and flesh cry out, “I just want the Word.”

I sincerely hope you all have a great Easter…

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Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Enemy Behind the Lines-Fear Part II

April 6, 2009

Fear cripples most of us and we do not know how infested our camp is with fear until we are faced with one of these moments.  Most of the time, myself included, we back down and simply retreat thinking there will be another day to fight.  I have thought the same, but have been asked by Christ through my spirit, “What if the battle you needed to fight was today?”  That’s a hard question to answer.

Paul and Silas may have had some fear about singing hymns while in prison, but then again, what did they have to lose?  Chances are, they were told they would be executed or beaten.  They had a bodily threat where today, most of us only have a threat to our egos.  Paul and Silas had a greater fear though: the fear of the Lord.  They knew who was truly in control and submitted themselves to Christ again, in the midst of their fear.  Sometimes, that is all Christ is wanting from us, simple submission.  I am quite sure that as these two men sang, their fear began to subside back into the darkened corners of the prison where it belonged.

What are some of the fears most Christians have but may not know about? Here are just a few!

Confession

Ok, I realize they are not major things to others, but to me, the sight of a rooster or a clown begins the slow shutting down of major life systems in my body. My chest gets tight; I can hear my heartbeat in my head, and get physically ill, all within only two or three seconds of the initial sighting. So, regardless of what anyone else sees in these evil winged animals and demonic looking clowns, I am petrified.

I remember the first time I confessed my fear of roosters and clowns to someone close to me. It was a major leap of faith for me to confess such a fear to anyone and actually have to admit I was vulnerable. Before you ask the question, yes, this person laughed when I told them. In that moment, however, I realized the tremendous fear of confession I was harboring. It was almost harder telling someone else I had a flaw than it would be facing a clown holding a rooster.

A fear of confession is real and needs to be dealt with. I would venture to say all of us, on some level, have a fear of confession. It is not easy for us to dismount from our pedestal to mention even so much as one of the flaws we have.

If you don’t think you have this particular fear, let me ask you one question. What is that one sin you try your hardest to ensure no one knows about? Now, think about telling that sin to someone close to you, a way of confessing it and dealing with it. Do you realize now you have this fear?

Humiliation

As mentioned above, sometimes fear and pride go hand in hand, as would be the case with humiliation. We all try our hardest to “save face” in front of our friends, families, and co-workers. It seems there are some things in life that are not much different than grade school. Whether we admit it or not, we are still in the race to be sure we are wearing the right clothes, listening to the right music, have the right technology, driving the right car, etc.

A fear of humiliation is a devastating enemy behind the line. This particular fear might keep you from sharing your testimony with one of your co-workers. It could keep you from asking a burning question for fear of not knowing the answer. The fear of humiliation keeps us on the bench, spectators to Christianity. Fear of humiliation would be the equivalent of a soccer player having the fear of running. It’s counter to the Christian DNA.

The fear of humiliation is usually brought about through a past experience. It can be brought about through bullying, intimidation, physical or mental mistreatment or trickery, or by embarrassment if a person is revealed to have committed a socially or legally unacceptable act. In most instances, humiliation may not be known to anyone but you, even if it happens in a room full of people. I have seen some who later tell of events where they were humiliated, yet on the outside, they were laughing at themselves along with everyone else.

Rejection

Rejection and humiliation are different animals, but close in kin. Humiliation is not as personal to me as rejection is. In my humble definition, rejection involves the submission of myself to someone, only to be rejected by them. Humiliation can be done unintentionally, however, rejection, almost by definition, has to be personal. It is a devilish beast to deal with.

If you think about people in your life, most have this fear which may be tied to something that happened in their families, a past relationship or some other type of situation. It is a far reaching, deeply rooted fear that eventually permeates everywhere in their lives.

The fear of rejection works a lot like humiliation when it comes to a Christian’s walk. Rejection often prevents a Christian from being involved in a small group, or an evangelistic group. Of all the fears, however, I believe this has the greatest potential for change. Why? Christ, of all people, knows the feeling of rejection all to well. He was rejected by followers, Peter, teachers, clerics, politicians and numerous others. From the cross he yelled, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Someone who is dealing with the fear of rejection might want to cry out the same sometimes.

Failure

Atychiphobia-the official name of the fear of failure. I can identify with this one in particular. Most of us have a fear of failure, disappointing those you love or simply just failing. People who fear failure do not take any type of risks, play not to lose-if they even play at all. It can be a crippling and at times, but it is not beyond victory.

If we find ourselves with the fear of failure, we should be greatly comforted by several of the characters of the Bible. Failure seems to be a great theme throughout Scriptures. Of all of the great failures, Peter is my favorite. He seemed to be a complete pro at it. He slipped up while trying to walk on water. He sliced off the ear of the high priest’s servant. When the time came to step up, he denied knowing Christ three times. Regardless of these, Christ still had an affection for him. Christ saw the reasoning behind his failures… passion. That is something Christ can work with.

As I mentioned before, I have had my own struggles with the fear of failure. I always equated Christian with holiness and holiness with perfection. Warped vision I know. In prayer, I brought my fear of failure to the Cross several times, but always managed to take it back. There was one time, however, Christ did not let me take it back. It was time I learned to get past this fear.

In my Prayer Place, I was shown a cup and a nail. Every time I thought of a failure, the nail would put a hole in the cup. Eventually, there were several holes in the cup. Christ asked me, “What do you see?” Of course, my answer was, “the holes.” Christ pointed out that His Grace was like water being poured into the cup. As the water poured out through holes, it was clear to me that my faults, weaknesses, my holes was what allowed his grace to pour through my life… minister to others if you will.

Although I thought it was over, Christ turned the cup open face down and placed a candle under it. As you would guess, the light from the candle shown through the holes. It was quite apparent the message given to me… embrace my failures, they are what Christ uses to glorify himself.

Overcoming our Fear

I love the story of Paul and Silas and I believe it has a lot to tell us about fear. In a way, all of us become imprisoned by our various fears. My fear keeps me from farms and circuses. For some, it keeps them from flying, others might not ever take a risk and share the Gospel with someone out of fear of rejection or humiliation. Fear can be a powerful enemy.

Let’s look at Paul and Silas and how they dealt with fear. As a result of their prayers and praise through their fear, a Phillippian jailer was converted.  Their choice to overcome their fear through fervent prayer and worship saved not only the jailer, but his family.  What a testimony we have in this passage!  As a Christian Warrior, we are called to be bold and fearless in Christ.  Greater is he that we serve than he that comes against us.  If we all were to realize this slippery enemy in our own camp, perhaps Christ could use us more to reach out to the lost men we are constantly working with, speaking to, working out with, coaching with, etc.  Could you imagine the impact it would have on the Kingdom?

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear.”
H.P. Lovecraft

If you liked this post, you might want to check out the others in this series:

Unforgiveness

Regret

Self-Reliance

The Lie

Fear

Have new posts delivered right to your email, click here.
Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
Share/Save/Bookmark

Subscribe//

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.