Fathers Day 2016

Posted: 13th June 2016 by iBarnabas in journaling
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Okay, I hope this sounds different to you. I hope it gives you pause and makes you think a moment. I’d like, especially if you are a Man, even more so if you are a man with a family; responsibility for a wife and/or children, for you to consider and reconsider what I’m about to say. Let it marinate like your favorite grill meat awaiting the fiery heat of your backyard grill. Let this grab your attention like the sound and tantalizing scent of bacon cooking nearby.

I’ve been in many churches throughout my life. Some great, some dwindling, some vibrant and dynamic. This post is NOT, in any way, to be a criticism on any of those former churches. I have gotten something wonderful from each and had the privilege of serving and being in close relationships with many in each. BUT…. I noticed something different in Christ Central Alachua (CCA) starting on the first visit that I’d like to share with you now – almost 1 year later.

I read a book once entitled No More Christian Nice Guy by Paul Coughlin that sought to encourage men of the church to be MEN of the church. Several other such books such as ‘Wild at Heart,’ and ‘The Barbarian Way’ also crossed my desk as I, myself, sought what it means to be a man (in church and in life). This is something that I have struggled with most of my life.

One of the very first things I noticed on our very first visit to CCA, sitting nearly dead-center in the Santa Fe High School Auditorium, was that there were men in the room. No, I don’t just mean that there were a few guys sitting with their wives, serving in parking, ushers, worship or the Pastor, I mean something more. If you’ve ever been in a local sports-bar during a championship game.. This is what I mean. The men in this room wanted to be there. I knew not a single person in the room but, it was clear to me that nearly every man I saw or heard among the crowd, really, truly, wanted to be there. It could be felt in the air, demonstrated in the brazen, manly high-fives and hearty handshakes they shared with other ‘men’ before the service started, it was heard in the unabashed laughter, seen in their posture, and…. that all to often missing tenor voice as we all sang during worship.

In January they showed a video (something they refer to as ‘stories’ ) of a few of the men who had recently completed a men’s program called Men of Honor. The stories were illuminating the feeling I’d had about the men in this church for months. There is something special going on here…. Something you don’t often experience in church. One might argue it’s an inevitable overflow from Pastor J. Mark Johns who is always willing to remind us about his hunting expeditions (avid whitetail deer bow hunter) but, in my opinion, it’s more than that. He (probably) lit the first match but the real story to this fire seems to be in the way dry underbrush takes a spark to a forest blaze. God. God’s manly heart, is the fire; His heart for men to be leaders and strong protectors and providers for their families, to be honest, courageous, faithful, valiant, with a loving, gentle and compassionate heart. For men to lead their wives and families with a Godly heart, to perform their work with a vigor and a goal in mind, to hold fast to their faith and be teachers of the word to those he is entrusted with. To know the privilege of the responsibility of nurturing and caring for this territory. This sort of manly heart is spread from one of these men to another to another. There is a fire in the heart of man here.

Is it just the men? Not even close! One such video story was of a young man (teenager) who shared about his service in the children’s church. His passion overwhelmed his nerves as he shared about how his actions were helping to reach the hearts and minds of some of the children in Kids Central. I couldn’t help but notice a teary-eyed man in the seat in front of me, with an uncanny resemblance to the teen, watching this video. The boy’s dad most certainly. Unmanly to cry in church about your kid or a kids ministry? Those were proud-dad tears. This was one of the most manly things I’ve seen in church in quite some time; both the father and the son. Every Sunday you can find spouses, girlfriends, and children of these men with smiles and a passion for life and this church on their faces.

This fire is so infectious and contagious that it not only drew my manly heart in so that I call this “my church”, but it also led me to commit myself to, and am now four months into, the eight-month Men of Honor program. (103 graduates over the last 6 years. These are the men sitting in these services. These are the men living and loving like real men! These are men after God’s own heart. These are the men with a fire in their belly.)

This Sunday, June 19th, 2016, is Father’s Day and we have an open invitation for you to …. be willing to catch a fire in your heart.

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I don’t know what Pastor Mark has planned for this Father’s Day service, I don’t know what message he has for the men who attend, I don’t know how God plans to move among those men… What I do know is that I want to encourage every man reading this to attend. I’m not asking for a commitment to join, nor asking you to participate in the next Men of Honor program, I’m only encouraging you to attend Father’s Day.