Canaans Rest

Canaan’s Rest represents a quiet place “set apart” for the purpose of hearing God's voice, growing in intimacy with the Lord, and being renewed in soul and spirit.

Category: Brother Al (page 1 of 37)

The J-Curve

I would like to introduce you to the J-curve. I read about this concept in a review of new book by Paul Miller, entitled “The J-curve,” with the subtitle “dying and rising with Jesus in everyday life.” I have not read the book as of now, but I sure like the thesis Miller presents. “It’s simple, it’s brilliant: The Christian life is shaped like a capital J.  You descend on the left and rise on the right.” 

Miller writes, “If rising is embedded in dying, then not running from the customized dying that God permits in our lives is essential for resurrection.”  Many years ago, when I was a young Christian, trying to find my way as a follower of Jesus, I was struggling with how I might be able to live a Christian lifestyle, after living for myself, during my first eighteen years.    

I remember being fully committed.  I was all in for Jesus. So the issue was not my desire to follow Jesus.  The problem was my old nature, what Richard Foster calls “habitual patterns of sin.”  I was new believer, who had a lot to overcome.  I remember reading a small book entitled “The Calvary Way.”  The author talked about being broken before the Lord.  I was convicted as I read.

For the first time in understanding my new life in Christ, I realized that it would be a matter of death to my old self.  So the idea of “dying to self” and then “being raised with Christ” has remained an important foundation to my spirituality.  “You see” writes the author Roy Hession, “the only life that pleases God and that can be victorious, is His life…..we can never be filled with His life, unless we are prepared for God to bring our life constantly to death.”

Some have called it “the crucified life.”  Being asked to die is not something we men are naturally willing to embrace.  But that is exactly what the J-curve entails.  Remember men, Jesus calls us to come to him and die to ourselves.  “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambitions shoulder your cross and follow me.  If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it.  But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life” (Matt. 16:24-26)

Like I said, being asked to die and give your life to another is not easy.  But this is the way of  Jesus.  Like me, you will have your ups and downs with dying and being raised up.  I appreciate Miller’s illustration of  “the trapdoor.”  

We are not able to control the dying and the rising.  Miller says of himself, “I’ve had some long times when I was sure I was at the bottom.  I could begin to see some hope coming, and then there was a trapdoor, and I went down again.  Sometimes I’ve gone through a series of trapdoors and I keep thinking I’ve bottomed out.”

Take it from me, you are going to go through trapdoors when you least expect them.  You will know when you have fallen into one of them.  It is a dark, lonely space, void of peace, with little hope on the horizon.  Don’t fight it.  Surrender and die to your “selfish ambitions” and cry out to Jesus for mercy.  Remember to keep looking up and out as you cry for help.  He will hear you and rescue you.   


At The Table

This is another blog about the ministry of Zach Williams at Harding prison.  As I watch the video of Zach singing “At the Table,” it was moving to watch men in prayer and worship.  I couldn’t help but wonder how these hardened inmates were processing the invitation to come to the table.  The implication was that Jesus welcomes each one of them just the way they are. 

I was drawn to the story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector, in Luke 19:1-ff.  Being a short man and a disliked as a tax collector, Zacchaeus had a rather low view of himself when it came to being in the presence of Jesus.  He climbed up into a tree to just get a longing glimpse of Jesus as he passed by.

To his surprise, Jesus stops, look up at poor Zacchaeus and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down.  Today is my day to be a guest in your home.”  We read, “Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him” (Luke 19:5-6 MSG). 

The locals could not grasp this kind of openness displayed by Jesus.  “Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, ‘What business does he have  getting cozy with this crook?'” (Luke 19:7 MSG).  Remember a performance orientated culture will never begin to comprehend the generosity and compassion of the love of God.

Zacchaeus is overwhelmed by the presence of Jesus.  It made him what to  change his ways.  Jesus tells us, “Today is salvation day in this home!  Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham!  For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost” (Luke 19:9-10 MSG).  Zacchaeus was not Jewish, yet Jesus welcomed him as a son of Abraham.  His whole identity as a man was changed in that moment.

You might feel like Zacchaeus as you read this post.  Jesus is inviting you to the table.  Here is the words to the refrain of Zack’s song: “So bring it all to the table/There’s nothing He ain’t seen before/For all your fear, all your sorrow and your sadness/There’s a Savior and He calls/Bring it all to the table.”

I remember a table I used to sit at, way back when I was a young pastor in Babbit, Minn.  It was at the home of Woody Uppman.  Often on my day off, I would just go and hang out with Woody.  He was a retired miner who accepted me just as I was.  I felt like I could share my real self with Woody.  I was able to go back to my work as a parish pastor, better prepared, because Woody made me feel like I could do the job. There was always room at Woody’s table for a insecure, arrogant young man like myself.

Maybe you don’t have a older father figure, with whom you can just share your heart.  But just remember Jesus invites you to the table.  Come as you are, not as you think you should be.  

My advice is simple;  it comes from years of trying to impress Jesus.  Be real and honest not only  with your thoughts but your emotions and desires as well.  He already know them all.  Just tell it to Jesus. Then learn to be still and silent so you can hear him give you the words of affirmation.  You are his beloved, simply because he loves you for who you are and not what you do.  

Remember!  This could be for you today!  There is room at the table for you.  Jesus is waiting for you to come home.  





There was Jesus

At the recent CMA Awards, where women of country music were honored and highlighted, Dolly Parton was a central part of the evening, helping to host the event.  Dolly took the event to a higher level later in the evening with some faith-filled songs, teaming with Christian artists For King and Country and Zach Williams.  In the duet Parton, a country western icon, sang at the top of her voice “There was Jesus. (amazing) After the medley was done, Parton declared, “Praise God!” (Wow)

I write about this event for several reasons.  First, I like country music.  I am personally moved by the duet.  Secondly, it is amazing to me how God is able to brake through the hard crust of modern secularism, with the message of love and grace.  Thirdly, I want share some thoughts from the duet with Zach Williams, entitled “There was Jesus.”

Men, I strongly suggest that you watch Zach Williams’ concert at Harding prison.  I was moved to tears as I listened and watch Williams minister to hardened prisoners.  He is the real deal in my opinion.  His soulfulness connected with those inmates.  Watch it for yourself.

Here are some of the lyrics that speak to the journey of men in our day.  “Every time I tried to make it on my own/ Every time I tried to stand and start to fall/ And all those lonely roads that I have traveled on/ There was Jesus.”  Men, whatever detour you’ve taken, whatever ditch you might be in, you can be assured that Jesus, stand there waiting for you to look to him.  Hear Jesus say, “Take courage!  It  is I. Don’t be afraid” (Mark 6:50).  In the midst of the storm “There was Jesus.” 

Here’s some more lyrics. “When the life I built came crashing to the ground/ When the friends I had were nowhere to be found/ I couldn’t see it then but I can see it now/ “There was Jesus.”  Men, like myself, you will crash and feel all alone.  But hear his words to you, “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  There was Jesus

Finally, the refrain, “In the waiting, in the searching/ In the healing and the hurting/ like a blessing buried in the broken pieces/ Every minute, every moment/ Where I’ve been and where I’m going/ Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it/ There was Jesus.” 

Today, the words of this refrain might speak directly to your situation.  In the midst of your searching and hurting, “like a blessing buried in the broken pieces” you might not feel it or understand it, but his presence is with you to care for you. 

I speak from recent personal experience in my own journey.  My best advice, look up in faith into the face of Jesus (not focused on you) and cry out for him to be merciful to you as wandering and hurting sinful man.  He will meet you at your point of need.  Remember “There was Jesus.”  We read in Ps. 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted, binding up their wounds.” 

Again, do yourself a favor and go to the YouTube videos of Zach’s ministry at Harding prison.  You will be moved to tears.  I believe the guy is anointed to speak to the broken hearts of men.  He is singing from a deep place in his own soul, that connects with the hurts of men.  He is not niece and fluffy.  He is deep, sincere, and passionate about exposing hurt and pain and bringing them to Jesus.  

“Go Home”

Recently John MacArthur accused the Southern Baptist Convention of theological error, in allowing women preachers to speak at the SBC’s 2019 annual meeting.  “When you literally overturn the teaching of Scripture to empower people who want power, you have given up biblical authority,” said MacArthur.

On panel discussion after the convention, a moderator asked MacArthur and his fellow panelists to offer their gut reaction to one – or two-word phrases.  When the moderator said “Beth Moore,” the female preacher who had spoken at the convention, MacArthur replied, “Go home.”  Of course, it created a fire storm on the internet.

“Go home” implying that a women place should be in the home.  But is  this comment can apply to men as well.

Jen Pollock Michel got me to thinking about this matter of the home.  Michael writes, “In the Bible, home has never primarily been a woman’s place…..Any church teaching that solely consigns women to the responsibilities of home proves exegetically paper-tin.”

She reminds us that, “Prior to the Industrial Revolution in the West, the spheres of work and home were not as discretely divided as today, with men leaving to earn the bacon, women staying to fry it. Homes were public places of industry and business as well as private residence.”

I have met men who either grew up on a farm or whose father ran a business out of the home, allowed the children to work right along side of their father  This gave them a real sense of who dad was, as he related to them throughout the day.  They got a good dose of Dad, for good and bad.

That is missing in our day.  Dads go of the work and are away from the home for much of the time.  Moms then fill in much of the home space for dad.  It is generally accepted that the Industrial Revolution changed the perception of the father’s role in the family. He was now the “bread winner,” while Mom stayed at home and nurtured the children.  Dad was absent.

Men, I remember well the time in my early marriage when I had no concept of “being home” as a young pastor. I was gun-ho on saving the world and being good to other folks.  But I forgot my home.  It was not my first priority.  This was in the late 60’s and early 70’s.  But when I was exposed to the clear teaching of Scripture on order in the home, the light came on for me.  

I was deeply convicted.  I was not loving my wife the way Jesus loved the church and I was not being the one and only father to my children.

So in my heart and mind, I had to “Go Home.”  Or as Focus On The Family used to say, I needed to “turn my  heart toward home.”  I needed to first get my convictions straight and then practice those convictions.  

Men, I realize that you can’t be at home similar to the good, old days.  That is unrealistic.  But, and hear me when I say, in your heart and mind you need to “go home.”

This is what it meant for me.  First, home was my greatest priority.  Second, I had to demonstrate this in my lifestyle. (Being there emotionally was the hardest for me).  Third, this meant loving my wife the way Jesus loved the church and being emotionally and physically involved with my three kids.  Fourthly, repenting of my failure to be at home emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Finally, humbly asking the Lord to help me “Stay at Home,” 








What do I want when I want to be embraced?

How would you respond to this question? The sentence above is the subtitle from a chapter on fathers in James Smith’s new book on Augustine, entitled “On the Road with Saint Augustine.”  Smith described Augustine’s spiritual life as that of being on a journey back home to the Father.

 Many men are on the road looking for their fathers. It could very well be the oldest story.  “You do not stop hungering for your father’s love,” Paul Auster notes, “even after you are grown up.”  Speaking of his father, Auster laments, “It was not that I felt he disliked me.  It was just that he seemed distracted, unable to look in my direction.  And more than anything, I wanted him to take notice of me.” 

The description of a father being distracted and not noticing is something I felt very deeply as a young boy.  I was never fathered by my Dad, even though he cared about me and was a good provider.  I longed for my father’s embrace.  I never was able to receive his approval of myself as a man.   

Smith quotes Thomas Wolf ‘s observation about our search, “….the deepest search in life…the thing that in one way or another was central to all living was man’s search to find a father, not merely the father of his flesh, not merely the lost father of his youth, but the image of a strength and wisdom external to his need and superior to his hunger, to which the belief and power of his own life could be united.”

As a young man, I had no idea that I was searching for the approval of my heavenly Father.  To me, God, the Father was distant, viewing me as incapable of his approval.  Thus, my hyper performance orientation, even as a pastor.  It took some time on the journey before I know that I was being embraced by my heavenly Father, who was “strength and wisdom” exterior to my needs.

Augustine, became known as the doctor of grace, because Jesus brought him to a father who came looking for him.  That looking is grace. As Augustine searched on the road, he was found by his father and brought home. 

At the heart of the Good News, told to us by Jesus, is the wonderful truth that speaks to the deep hunger for a caring father; one who we can came to know and be loved by.  We can celebrate the news that we have a father who comes looking for us, who adopts us, who chooses us and “who sees you a long way off and comes running and says, ‘I’ve been waiting for you.'”

Men on the road looking for an absent, distant father, like myself, are covering up a deep desire.  It is that of a father, who would come looking for them.  The arrow of hunger Smith notes is, “reversed and the father would return.”  

Could some man reading the blog today sense the brokenness and loneliness of their journey, as a need to be embraced because of a father hunger that goes much deeper then words can express.

This father hunger, when embraced, helps us embrace a deeper longing to be seen and known by the One who made us. 

Men, drink deeply from this great quote by Augustine.  “To be comforted by the word of God’s grace unto the hope of pardon of our sins is to return after a long journey to obtain from a father the kiss of love.” 









Manhood Must Be Taught

“Healthy masculinity is not natural,” notes Glenn Stanton.  “It must be constructed.”  This is not the case with a woman.  “Her biological make-up ensures the girl will more naturally grow into a healthy woman.  As her body matures, internally and externally, it sends her and those around her an unmistakable message of what she is and what she is becoming.  It moves her in a very particular direction with great force.  Her family and community treat her differently because of it,” notes Stanton.

“Not so with men,” George Gilder states in his book Men and Marriage. “Unlike a woman, a man has no civilized role or agenda inscribed in his body.”  He must find, learn and activate his social role. Maleness simply happens.  It is not the same with manhood.  Manhood must be constructed and cultivated.  If not, there can develop a perpetual male adolescence that we see in our culture today.  

Manhood is a behavior that needs to be taught and bestowed upon a young man by his family and other men.  Margaret Mead observed this necessity: “In every known human society, everywhere in the world, the young male learns that when he grows up, one of the things which he must do in order to be a full member of society is to provide food [and protection] for some female and her young….Every known human society rests firmly on the learned nurturing behavior of men.” But she warns: “This behavior being learned is fragile and can disappear rather easily under social conditions that no longer teach it effectively.”  How true this is in our day.

One of the significant, destabilizing forces in a culture is unchecked male sexuality and strength.  “If a society does not find a way to bring these under control,” warns Stanton, “society is impossible to sustain, and very bad things happen.” 

These observations by Stanton and Mead speak to the heart of my passion to continue this blog site.  I continue to “sound the trumpet” for male mentors.  Manhood needs to be achieved with the help of the company of elders.  

I am one voice crying out in the confused wilderness of today’s gender wars, for men to rise up and take their place as mentors to their sons, grandsons and other young men in their lives. Manhood is a behavior that must be taught and an identity bestowed by other men.  We need to step forth. 

I agree with author Erica Komisar, when she suggests boys, “should not be told that having more masculine traits make them lesser.  They should be told to harness that energy productively.”  It is other men who will help harness this energy.  

Men, don’t allow the angry voices in the gender wars cause you to doubt who you are in Christ.  You are his beloved as a man.  “For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Eph. 2:10). 

Together, as younger and older men, we can do our small part in restoring manhood in our day. “You younger men, accept the authority of the elders.  And all of you, serve each other in humility, for ‘God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble'” (I Pet. 5:5-6). 




















A New Blog Site

I am not sure how many men read my blogs.  I have been faithfully blogging for over ten years.  Over that period of time, the blog has created a audience of men who intuitively identify with what thoughts regarding men, who desire to be followers of Jesus in our day.     

What I have to say has been out there long enough on the internet for men to get a sense what the experience of “the wildman journey” means for young as well as older men in this time of “toxic masculinity.”  I know there are men who pass it along to others.  My Son, Kurt is the most faithful in sending it to other men.  

I hear enough from time to time about a man appreciating what is being said about masculinity.  That is enough to keep me going.  Be assured. I carry my weekly blog around in my heart the way I used to carry around my weekly sermons.  I continually have in mind my men’s blog when I am reading books, meditating on scripture and praying, and when I read all my favorites on the internet.

I am convinced more then ever that what God has put on my heart is relevant and  helpful, especially for younger Christian men, who want to be a men of God

I write about the blog site, because my Son, Mark and a good friend, Bill Weber, have created a new blog site entitled “Canaansrest.”  The  old site needed updating, since Judy and I no longer run a retreat house on Man Lake.  I also wanted my wife, Judy’s blog to be on the same site.  It is entitled “whispers.”  She will soon be posting her blogs.

To get to our blog site, simply go to “”  In the near future we plan to allow for comments regarding our blogs, so that we can respond and interact with what is being said on our blogs. 

I close with a scripture that keeps me motivated to keep on blogging after ten years.  “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come” ( Ps. 71:18).






Men and their Secrets

There was an interesting article in The Atlantic by Lori Gottlieb entitled, “Some men share their secrets only in therapy.”  Gottlieb, who is a therapist, noted that men in therapy often say, “I’ve never told anyone else this before.”  “I think that speaks volumes about how isolated men can be, how isolated in their struggles,” suggests Gottlieb.

Men typically tend to avoid emotional intimacy with another. This can spell trouble at home and in our marriages.  Men are reluctant to share  because they do not want to appear  weak.  “It just shows,” noted Gottlieb, “how much shame there is for men around talking about anything that feels vulnerable to them.”

Michael Stepian of Columbia University’ business school thinks men resist sharing because it goes against stereotypically masculine values.  A person would confide a secret to get help.  “And confiding a secret to  another person, it’s also an act of intimacy…That kind of warmth and sociality and intimacy is also stereotypically more feminine.”  Men tend to emphasize “agency, independence and autonomy,”  which gives the impression of not needing any help with any of those hidden secrets. .

Men, it is vital that we expose our secrets.  Our secrets have a life of their own within our souls.  They spread emotional and even rational poison that can distort the way you look at life.  Take for example, a long standing anger toward a indifferent father. This can create distorted view of God, other men and those in authority in your life.

We read in Ps. 51:17, “The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit.  A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise.”  Why is a broken spirit considered a sacrifice?  Because that is just what it is – a sacrifice.  Your ego will suffer a blow.  Its humbling to share secrets because our self image gets tarnished and our effort at self preservation suffers.  But remember I Peter 5:5, “God opposes the proud, but give grace to the humble.”

Being proud and stiff-necked does not allow for the grace of  God.  Rather our inner resistance walls us off from ourselves, others and God.  We live with our secrets, often nursing them in our self-pity and self-hatred.  Don’t let that happen to you. If the light begins to shine on our secrets, don’t hide in the cold, lonely place with your secrets.

Only exposure and brutal honesty brings the healing light of Jesus’ presence.  As I have mentioned on several occasions recently, I have been going through a rough time in my adjustment to apartment living.  I continue to learn some vital lessons that I pass on to you

First, have an open spirit.  Cry out to God for mercy, so you have the courage to open the doors to those hidden closets in our soul.  St John of the Cross calls them “deep caverns” of the soul.  Remember these secrets are buried alive in you.  Don’t kid yourself.  You are not able to manage and order these secrets. You will never get clarity till you get them out into the light

Secondly,  humbly ask God for the ability to receive his love.  Yes, this sounds simple, but once you are assured of God’s love you will sense a new vulnerability to share those secrets.  Shame is lifted, so you can be honest

Thirdly, be brutally honest in prayer.  I often cry out for mercy in my misery.  If you don’t pray to the real God, you will not be sharing the real you.

Fourthly, find someone you can trust.  God will provide that person.  If not a person , then a group of men who are honest about the secrets.  You will learn how to share as you listen to other men.

Day of the Dead

Did you men know that according to World magazine, “The sugar skull, an emblem of Mexican folk holiday Dia de Muertos or Day of the Dead is this year’s must-have Haloween décor, plastered on succulent vases, wreaths, mugs, and pillowcases.  Mattel recently announced its new Day of the Dead Barbie, adorned with a floral dress and a skull-painted face, and Nike released a tennis shoe in honor of the holiday, with colored piping and ever-so-faint sugar skulls.”

Only a few years ago this holiday was unknown.  But now Day of the Dead celebrations are taking place in many parts of our country.  “The holiday,” notes the World article, “has established itself as a part of the Halloween retail juggernaut.”  Andrew Chesnut, professor of religious studies at Virigina Commonwealth University believes, “We’ll continue to see more Day of the Dead shrines and altars……in places we wouldn’t expect.  The more people are rethinking death, the more Mexican culture is becoming relevant.”

I live in a Senior living complex.  My wife and I are surrounded with the reality of death every day.  At our age more relatives and friends are dying.  We both talk about being in the ‘fourth quarter” of our earthly journey.  To me what is interesting in the World’s article is the reference to the “postive death movement.” “There is an encouragement to talk about death and plan for it.  But few in the movement acknowledge any afterlife.”

Men, don’t be fearful of your own death.  Jesus has gone to prepare a place for you.  He tells us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-2).

Paul was torn between remaining in his body and going home to be with the Lord.  “For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better” says Paul. “Yet if I live, that means fruitful service for Christ.  I really don’t know which is better.  I’m torn between two desires: Sometimes I want to live, and sometimes I long to go and be with Christ.” (Phil 1:21-23).  He reminded the Corinthians, “that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord” (II Cor. 5:6).

Men, take the lead in your family.  Talk about our dying, or the dying of one of your family members.  Help them visualize the great future they have because of the resurrection of Jesus.  Peter tells us, “Because  Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new lie and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven – and the future starts now” (I Peter 1:4-5 MGS).

If your kids haven’t been to a funeral, make sure they get to one when a relative or friend dies.  Expose them to the reality of death.  Your  attitude help them to become comfortable with being foreigners in this world.  In Chapter 11 of Hebrews, where we read about the great heroes of faith we are told: “They agreed that they were no more than foreigners and nomads here on earth.  And obviously people who talk like that are looking forward to a country they can call their own” (Heb. 11:13-14 NLT).

So everyday, men check your perspective.  With Paul remember, “we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (II Cor. 4:18 NLT).  Develop that upward focus, with your eyes on Jesus and eternity.

Peanut Butter Falcon

I want to see the movie entitled, “Peanut Butter Falcon.”   David French wrote a review with the heading, “A film with a Conservative Soul teaches three great truths of manhood.”  The movie is  “about a boy becoming a man.”  It happens “through ancient forms of tradition and ritual that are disguised behind the modern frame of the unconventional, accidental family.”

Zak is a young man living in a nursing home because of his disabilities (down syndrome).  Zak longs to escape and find his hero, Saltwater Redneck, a professional wrestler.  He flees the home and meets up with Tyler who is also on the run.  Together they drift down the waterways in the South on a handmade raft.  For Zak the journey is about manhood: “it’s about manhood in a deeply traditional sense.”  French sees the trip communicating three profound truths.

First, a man needs his journey.  Tyler agrees to help Zak find Saltwater Redneck’s wrestling school.  Tyler tell Zak they are going to have “stories.”  In their heroic journey Zak comes “to greater life.” “You can see him walk in new confidence” observes French. “The brushes with disaster and his courageous responses start to define him.”

In modern manhood life is comfortable and safe. “Yet” French maintains, “there is something inside most men that rebels against comfort and safety.”  French insists, “That’s an impulse that should be nurtured and cultivated – even celebrated – not denied and suppressed.  In our comfortable, therapeutic society manhood does not happen by default.  Risk and adventure are not part of life for young men.”

Second, a man needs his strength.  “There is a moment” French remembers, “in the film that encapsulates the way a therapeutic society and mindset can sap a man of his confidence.”  Eleanor who took care of him at the nursing home find him and wants him to take his medicine and come back to the home.  But Zak is now a new man and wants to hang on to that strength.

Young men don’t need to be cuddled, but given encouragement and confidence so  they can face the hardships of life.  In this way they begin to taste the reality of manhood.

Finally, a man needs his dad.  The movie isn’t just about Zak, but also about Tyler, who is transformed into a loving, protective father figure.  As French notes, “Zak finds his manhood, Tyler finds his purpose, and his purpose is in leading and loving Zak….a young man’s restless energy shouldn’t be indulged or suppressed, it should be shaped and directed.”  Tyler is acting as a father figure building up Zak’s strength while protecting him from harm.

If young men do not have fathers, they need what French calls, “a ringleader.”  They don’t stand on the sidelines.  Rather they are participants in the journey.

“Energy and vitality” are often discouraged in young men.  Thus, in French’s estimation: “Young men grow up without facing defining moments.  They don’t know who they are. They don’t know who they can be.  They’re overly protected at best and scorned at worst.”  They need to be encouraged on their journey to be strong so that one day they can sense their calling as a man.

Personally, I can see myself in all three of French’s points  First, at 18 my folks let me go as I ventured out to Southern California, and found myself as a man.  Secondly, there were many ups and downs in my life.  But I can vividly remember realizing at 28 years of age a confidence in my manhood.  Thirdly, I am so grateful for the Godly men in my life, who helped me become a man.  I desperately needed father figures.

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