Saturday, June 15, 2013

Lessons From The Rifleman

I remember while growing up, that both my granddad and my dad enjoyed watching old westerns. Back then, they would run them on Saturday afternoons one right after another. Shows like Bonanza, Wagon Train, Have Gun, Will Travel, etc. I have to admit, although I enjoyed being outdoors most of the time, I did enjoy watching those old westerns as well.

My favorite, by far, was The Rifleman. In this show Chuck Connors played the part of a small ranch owner named Lucas McCain. McCain was a rough, tough, manly, man, who saved his small town from bad guys week after week. While, most cowboys carried their pistols on their hips, McCain opted for a custom made Winchester rifle that he could unload on his target in a heartbeat. Thus, the name The Rifleman.

Now, this show has not crossed my mind in years, but recently while visiting my wife's parents in Tennessee, I was reminded of it. My father-in-law has a small .22 caliber rifle that fires pretty much the same way that Winchester rifle of Lucas McCain's did. One evening, just before dark, I escaped into the woods alone with that rifle and fired off shots just like The Rifleman. There wasn't much to shoot at out there, so, I just fired into a mud puddle and mud and water flew everywhere. It took only seconds, but man it felt good.

I don't know exactly why I found enjoyment in that but I did. I think we men are just wired that way. It's the same thing that made me build model cars and then destroy them with my BB gun when I was a kid. It's the same thing that made me love to play with fire when I was a kid. Stuff like lining up plastic army men and taking a lighter to the ones standing in front of the men with flame throwers. Or, trying to build a land rocket out of gasoline, a coffee can, rubber bands, a hot wheel car, and a match. (That one got a little out of hand).

It's the thing in us, that makes us want to live life on the edge. The thing that wants us to be just a little dangerous. Like Lucas McCain. A 6'5" intimidating hoss of a man who fears no one. A man who stares fear in the face and it cowers at the sight of him. A man who can't be bought, bribed, or manipulated. A man. A manly, man. A real man.

As a parent, I'm sure you find yourself wanting to protect your children. I know with my sons, I catch myself, constantly telling them to be careful. The other day when I said that to my daring little 4-year-old I felt like God spoke to my heart and said, "Stop telling him to be careful, I created him to be dangerous. "

Now, there is a stupid kind of dangerous which is the whole land rocket idea I mentioned above. And, then there is the God-deposited manly kind of dangerous. It's in us guys from birth. God put it there and he longs for us to tap into it. The problem is so many of us have been urbanized to the point where we have lost touch with that dangerous element. We go to work, come home, go to bed, and start the cycle over the next morning. We live comfortable lives, in comfortable homes, with our comfortable families.

Dads, God didn't create you to be careful. He created you to live on the edge. To be dangerous. To live a life of courage. When fear tries to intimidate you, to step into the ring and refuse to back down. In a world where the images of The Rifleman have been replaced by images that are light years in the other direction, the next generation needs to see a model of manly men in us. Men who will show their sons how to be men. Men who will show their daughters what a real man is like.

When I was in 6th grade, there was this girl I liked. One of the neighborhood boys threw a tennis ball at her and hit her in the eye. I immediately took off after him and after a lengthy chase caught him in my yard. When I caught him, he started swinging his fists at me. My Dad, who was across the street saw the little scuffle and screamed at me, "If he hits you again, hit him back!" I couldn't believe it, my Dad actually gave me permission to hit this kid. Of course, I laid into him which I was going to do with or without my Dad's approval but it sure felt good to know I wasn't going to get in trouble for it. My Dad, immediately broke up the fight and sent the kid home.

My Dad never encouraged me to fight, but he was also going to make sure he didn't raise a son who would run from one. He taught me that sometimes good guys have to do what's necessary to stop the bad guys. He taught me that real men don't cower to conflict, but face it head on.

Dads, this up and coming generation needs you. They need you to be the kind of man God created you to be. A dangerous, manly, hoss of a man. A man who faces his fears and overcomes them. A modern day hero. A real man.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Need For Transparent And Accountable Relationships

We were meant to live life together. God created us to live in relationship with one another. I'm talking close relationships. I'd say intimate relationships, but since I'm talking to guys here we'll steer clear of that word. Instead, I'll use the terms transparent and accountable relationships. Lets face it, as men, we don't always place a priority on this. Sure, we get together and do guy stuff from time to time, but we don't like going deep with one another. We don't want to dig into some other guy's garbage and we sure don't invite them to dig through ours.
As a result, we keep everyone at arms length and we isolate ourselves from true healthy relationships. Perhaps, its pride. Perhaps, its fear. Actually, I think its a combination of both. We're ashamed of some of the things we struggle with and fear what others will think if we go public with it. It's so much easier to put on our "I've got everything together mask" than to spill our guts out to someone who will potentially reject us. The tragedy with this way of life is that it hinders us from becoming the men God designed us to be.
I've seen it more times than I can count. Men who are limited because of their insistence at living guarded lives. Men who are unwilling to cultivate the kind of relationship with other men that require transparency and accountability. If you are one of those men, make a decision to change. Determine to surround yourself with a group of men you can trust. We all need 2 or more men we consider close. Friends who know each other inside and out. A band of brothers who aren't afraid to go deep with one another. Guys who can have a great time together but don't shy away from getting real with one another. There is safety in a group like that.
There are countless men who have struggles that they will carry to the grave simply because they don't have that support group to help them gain victory over those things. Men hooked on porn, alcohol, or drugs. Men who struggle with anger management or low self-esteem. Men who are chronically dissatisfied with life. Men who are stressed out, burned out, and wiped out. The list can go on forever. There are those who will choose to take on those battles alone and the majority will fall short of victory in those battles.
Proverbs 11:14 tells us that "Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety." Don't spend your life being a lone ranger. Develop a safety net of men around you. A group that will accept you the way you are but love you too much to allow you to stay the way you are. That's true friendship.