Desperate for Manhood Posters

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Adolescence can be defined as wanting the privileges of adulthood without the responsibilities. Having three teenage sons I find myself shaking my head like a bobble head doll at this definition. Sociologist’s go onto point out that when it comes to males, adolescence has extended to age thirty-five. We are seeing boys trapped in a man’s body, and not embracing manhood. Adolescent behavior among males can be seen in:

Living with a woman and not marrying her.

No real ambition or a sense of get-after- it-ness when it comes to life and career.

Still living at home with the parents well into your twenties and thirties with no plan to get out.

Serial starters, and never finishers.

Social media warriors pontificating on the problems of the world, all while living off of someone else’s sacrifice and hard work.

Consummate consumers and not contributors.

I could go on, but you get the point. Our society and churches are being decimated by the pandemic of extended adolescence. We don’t need males, as much as we need men, and please don’t confuse the two.

I walked into my youngest son’s room the other day and took note of the basketball “fat heads” and posters adorning his walls. These athletes serve as his role models inspiring his basketball dreams. And yet while they are great examples as basketball players, they’re hardly one’s to mimic off the court. But isn’t that the problem? We are suffering from a deficiency of modern “manhood posters”- men who inspire us by how they live for what a real man looks like.

In the story of Ruth, Boaz is such a man we’d do well to emulate. In fact, in Ruth 2:1 it says of Boaz that he was “a worthy man”. The Hebrew word for worthy means full of substance; it’s a word that has nothing to do with his finances, and everything to do with his character. Boaz is full of character. If my son was looking for manhood posters, Boaz would be one we’d hang in his room.

When I was a little boy I ate Wheaties. Now if you remember this cereal you’re probably wincing right now because Wheaties is not really good. So why did I eat it?
Well, my hero, Walter Payton (running back for the Chicago Bears) was on the box of Wheaties, and so I figured if he ate it, so should I. One day my father got invited to preach for the Chicago Bears, and afterwards we were asked to breakfast with the team. It just so happen I got to sit at the same table as Walter Payton, and what I saw shocked me. My hero was not eating Wheaties, but was eating Raisin Bran. I confessed to him that I ate Wheaties because he did, and wanted to know why he was eating Raisin Bran? I’ll never forget what he said, “Oh kid, I hate that stuff. I don’t eat Wheaties”. Now this is not to disparage Walter Payton, and from everything I’ve read of his short life, he was a great man. But still, I was greatly disappointed that day. My hero wasn’t even buying what he was selling. All Wheaties was, was a paycheck, an opportunity to extend his brand.

We need men like Boaz- worthy men, men full of character who will “eat their Wheaties”. We need men who are discontent with being public successes but private failures. We need men full of substance, character and integrity.

In the next post we will talk about six things that marked Boaz life, making him a worthy man.

Discipleship Summit 2018: An Invitation to Satisfaction

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Abundant Life is an equipping church where we take Jesus’ invitation to discipleship seriously.  We define disciple making as producing reproducing followers of Jesus Christ. Or to say it another way, Jesus wants us to be more into multiplication than addition.  Now that’s a good thing, because we live in one of the most secular places in the country, where of the ten million people who call the Bay area home, only 2-3% identify as followers of Jesus.  Our sanctuary seats about two thousand, and there’s not enough services we can add to meet the millions of people here who need Jesus. To be effective in the Bay we have to multiply ourselves in the lives of others, and to multiply we need to be equipped. 

 

This is why once a year we host our Discipleship Summit, which aims to equip Christ-followers in the Bay with the requisite tools to engage others in their spheres of influence to the glory of God.  Dr. Bobby Conway, also known as the “One Minute Apologist,” will be teaching us on Saturday, April 21, and then again the next day at our Sunday morning gathering. I’ve known Bobby for about ten years, and beyond his academic credentials he is uniquely gifted to take the heady concepts of apologetics (i.e., the existence of God, the problem of suffering and evil, the reliability of Scripture among others) and present them in a way that’s accessible to people all across the spiritual spectrum.  He is known to take lofty concepts and set them on the bottom shelf. You will leave feeling more confident in engaging people who don’t know Jesus, and responding to the questions they have. I hope you’re making plans to join us.

But there’s more.  If you were to ask me what has been my most satisfying moments as a follower of Jesus, I would say without hesitation it’s been those times when I’ve given myself away…when I’ve multiplied what Christ has entrusted to me into the lives of others.  It’s when I’ve written that check, or taken the young leader under my wing to develop them, this has brought me the greatest joy. Contributing, not consuming is the path to joy. So the invitation to jump in on disciple making is really an invite to the deepest joy and satisfaction we can ever know.  Our Discipleship Summit is a step in the journey to satisfaction. Be sure to register and let us know you’re coming. Can’t wait to see you.

Bryan Loritts

Lead Pastor, Abundant Life

Best First Quarter 2018 Reads

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I read some great books this first quarter and thought I’d share:

  • Tiger Woods, Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian
  • Ali, Jonathan Eig
  • The Cross and Christian Ministry, D.A. Carson
  • Grant, Ron Chernow
  • The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We believe About Ourselves, Curt Thompson

See a theme? Yes, I’ve started the year reading a to n of biography, including Ron Chernow’s 900 and something page BEAST on President Grant! But being a golfer- orsomeone who plays golf- my favorite was Tiger Woods.

Currently, I’m reading a lot of books on theological views pertaining to women and leadership within the local church.

Colorful Hands

I was speaking at a conference recently, when a dear middle aged white couple pulled me to the side and asked me to please provide them with a list of books written by people of color for them to read.  I promised them I’d post on my blog. Here are just a few of the books from colorful hands I’ve been encouraged by (in no particular order):

Taylor Branch’s trilogy on the Civil Rights Movement: Parting the Waters; Pillar of Fire; At Canaan’s Edge

Bryan Stevenson’s, Just Mercy

Korie Edwards, The Elusive Dream

Soong Chan Rah, The Next Evangelicalism; Prophetic Lament

James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folks

Fredrick Douglas, The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglas

Jared Alcantara, Crossover Preaching

Eric Mason, Manhood Restored

Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns

Cornel West, Race Matters

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

Ralph Richard Banks, Is Marriage for White People?

Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow

Top Ten of 2017

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Well, 2017 is coming to a close, and it’s been another year where I’ve stumbled across some really great reads. I thought I’d share with you the top 10 books I’ve read this year. You’ll notice the list is very eclectic. From the leader of the Reformation, to a scandalous preacher; from a book about the history of race in America, to one entitled, “Hillbilly Elegy.” It’s obvious there’s not much rhyme or reason to my reading, outside of what interests me at the moment. Here you go:
 
#10- Becoming Ms. Burton, by Susan Burton and Cari Lynn.
I’m a sucker for urban rags to riches stories. If you liked, A Piece of Cake, you will love this one. Susan Burton is a modern-day hero, having risen from the ashes of drug addiction, prostitution and incarceration. Now she’s reaching back and helping others.

 
#9- Stamped from the Beginning, Ibram X. Kendi.
The most comprehensive history of race in America that I’ve read. He argues how we haven’t made as much progress as we’d like to believe. Tragic. Kendi also unearths how several Puritan pastors had slaves as part of their compensation packages for the churches they served.


#8- My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward, Mark Lukach.
This is one of those reads you take on vacation with you. And if you’re a man, you’ll find yourself saying, “I’m just a loser of a husband,” about a thousand times. What an indefatigable spirit he has as he cares for his mentally ill wife. 

 
#7- The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead.
Don’t be misled into thinking this is a non-fictional, historical piece on the actual underground railroad. It’s fiction, well-written fiction, where you’ll find yourself swept away by the current of Whitehead’s narrative. .


#6- Elmer Gantry.  Sinclair Lewis.
I had heard of this title for years, but it was a dinner with some Gordon-Conwell faculty from the homiletics department where I finally decided to read this tome.  This should be required reading for any aspiring preacher. Lewis gets to the perils of a professionalized ministry. 


#5- Grit, Angela Duckworth.
Little do my boys know this will be on 2018’s summer reading list. “Greatness,” she argues, “isn’t so much about giftedness or environment, as much as it is about perseverance, a sort of stick-to-it-ness. Grit.”

 
#4- Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance.
I knew nothing of the people who populate places like the hills of Kentucky and the Appalachian Trail. But since this was a significant part of Trump’s base, and I’ve been writing on the subject, I figured this would be a great place to start my research. Vance’s memoir is compelling. At the end, you’ll conclude the gap is not as wide between the poor whites of Vance’s upbringing, and people of color.


#3- The Social Animal, David Brooks.
Okay, you know already my bromance with Brooks. He’s one of my favorites. His intellectual and writing powers are on full display in this book. You won’t be disappointed.

#2- Martin Luther, Eric Metaxas.
Best biography I read all year. There’s not the usual one-hundred-page, build up that’s requisite in most biographies. He practically gets right to the point while providing adequate information. It feels a bit like a novel. Plus, Luther is just flat out interesting, and hilarious.


#1- Devil in the Grove, Gilbert King.
Stunning read. I knew little of Thurgood Marshall’s pre-SCOTUS days. Never knew the risks he took just to try cases in the deep south. He was almost lynched. This book looks at one of his cases, and just when you think there are no more twists and turns, there are!