By Leo Hellyer
The year 2024 is here, and I firmly believe that it is going to be a wild ride. In this new year we have a number of things to navigate through: Ukraine, Russia, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Hamas, Hezbollah, Democratic Party, Republican Party, morality, homegrown violence, and mental health identification and treatment, to name just a few.
There is a short, easy-to-read book which can help us travel through the above challenges in 2024. The book was written by Pastor Virgil L. Stokes in 2020 but is very relevant in 2024. The book is titled, “Man Alive! Christian Manhood in a Twisted World.”
In the Introduction of the book Pastor Stokes has included two verses from the Bible to set the tone for the rest of the book. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14: “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.”
These verses are easy to read and understand; however, it is much harder to actually follow these verses in real life on a daily basis.
There are two specific groups of very different men that I have some contact with that I feel at least are driven to do their best in following the two verses from 1 Corinthians 16. One of these groups of men are many of the men on the 2023 Boise State University, Mountain West Championship Football Team: Coach Spencer Danielson and Team Chaplain Mark Thornton. Another group of men who are steadfast in following the direction in 1 Corinthians 16 are Tier One Operators in the United States Armed Forces. I have worked with a number of these men who are dedicated followers of Jesus Christ.
I will admit that the two groups of men I just mentioned are a cut above most men struggling to navigate the challenges that we face in our daily lives. The truth is, however, that each of us has the capability to be heroes in the faith in living out our lives.
Pastor Stokes lays out nine characteristics which he feels are necessary to be able to exemplify a godly ‘Christian Man in a Twisted World’. These characteristics are: Being Responsible, Being Christ-like, Having Inner Strength, Being a Protector, Having Maturity, Being Courageous, Having Integrity, Standing Up for the Truth, and Being Stable and Consistent.
Pastor Stokes does a very good job of taking desirable traits of manhood and simplifying them so anyone can understand what they mean. He presents the fact that each of these traits are achievable by men who are willing to change, and who are motivated to press though the struggles. As we face the challenges of being a Real Man, we need to stop being victims and start being responsible for the ways that we react to the stressors in our lives. We must be honest with ourselves and others about our issues, own them, and adapt and conquer them.
About halfway through the book Pastor Stokes refers to 1 Corinthians 13:11: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” A big difference between children and men is that children many times react to situations quickly, without thinking. Real Men evaluate their situation, weigh the benefits and consequences of possible reactions, and then develop a course of action that is most prudent. Real Men look at long-term implications instead of just split second emotions. Real Men face challenges instead of hiding them or running from them.
Christian men who successfully live life in a twisted world are men who have a high degree of integrity. Men with integrity are not swayed by what others do or say. Men with integrity know the difference between right or wrong, and they do what is right, true, uplifting, honorable, loyal, and Christ-like, without being redirected by other people’s opinions or challenges. Men with integrity believe that right is right, in every situation.
Real Men defend biblical truths. Real Men look to the Bible to find the standards they live by. Real Men profess, and live out, their Christian faith openly and with conviction. Pastor Stokes points out that Real Men are stable and consistent. Their actions and reactions don’t change like the directions of the wind. Real Men don’t look for the easy path; they look for the God-directed path. Real Men are men of God, grounded in His truth, obedient to His guidance, and caring for others more than themselves.
I highly recommend you get a copy of this book. It is a very well-written study book that will guide you through your challenging and exciting journey of life. As Christian men, each day of our lives we should be striving to become more and more like Christ. The reality of life is that we will always fall short of the Glory of God – after all, we are flawed human beings who are sinful by nature. We must fervently strive to do our very best every day. When we stumble, and we will, we must go to God Almighty and admit our shortcomings and follow His direction to get back on the righteous path of life. We all stumble – laymen, young, old, pastors, evangelists, etc. God doesn’t give up on us, and we shouldn’t give up on ourselves or on our brothers who stumble.
We need to continually fill up our cup with the Love of Christ, so we can pass on some of that love to those who God brings across our path to minister to. We need to challenge our brothers to continually seek God’s strength and direction in living out ‘Christian Manhood in a Twisted World’.
Leo Hellyer is a non-staff pastor with a local church and has been married to his wife Norma for 50 years. The couple volunteered with the Boise FamilyLife Ministry Team for 20 years. Leo has also been serving with Boise Rescue Mission Ministries for 20 years and is currently serving at the River of Life Rescue Mission. He is president and chief firearms instructor with Helping Hands Firearms Training LLC. If you have questions about Real Man’s Toolbox, or need other assistance, he may be reached at [email protected] or (208) 340-5544.