Gone are the days of the Duke, John Wayne and the real men whom He emulated on the silver screen, that fought the battle of Iwo Jima and stormed the beaches of Normandy. Where have all the real men gone? Is it too late for our culture to see what authentic masculinity looks like. Men who sacrifice for their families and spend time with their kids wrestling and having tea parties. Men who open car doors for their wives and who charge into danger to protect the innocent while everyone else runs the other way. What our culture desperately needs in this critical hour in history is men, real men. I dare to say, godly men.

John Wayne portrayed an heroic man on the silver screen. He was good for the times when it was still okay for a man to be a man, and all that defined authentic manhood for the day. John Wayne symbolized for a generation all that was good and noble about manhood. But no longer, as we live in a culture and a society that attempts to throw dirt on what authentic masculinity is suppose to be and bury it in the grave of history. Men it’s time to rise up out of the ashes, shake the dirt off and climb out of the grave that this society we live in is trying to bury us in. Let our minds drift back to the memory of our fathers and grandfathers and may the memory of their voices haunt us until we are willing to stand.

Recently a large and well known company came out in attempt to put another proverbial nail into the coffin of authentic masculinity. They have taken it upon themselves to let men know what their options are for being a man. And to their ad my response is Thank you, but I’ll choose the Biblical option for authentic masculinity. Long before the Duke, men were given a model of real authentic masculinity. Masculinity modeled for us by the ultimate man. The God-man, Jesus Christ. In our hyper sensitive culture that wants to tell us what real men should be, I choose God’s model. I choose to follow Jesus. In the recent commercial by this big well known company they took it upon themselves, as many have done in our culture, to try and tell us what our options are for being a man. The only two options that was offered in this particular ad was the way of the brute who cheers on thug like behavior condoning violence as boys beat each other while the males passively stand back and continue to barbecue. Then we have the other males, I don’t call them men, ogling a woman as she walks down the street. What’s the other option they give us? Well if you don’t choose the passive father watching the boys fight, or the ogler then your only other option is the path of the feminine man who’s in touch with his feelings and appears vulnerable and weak.

What we need is men like Churchill who defied Hitler as he walked the bomb ridden streets of London to inspire his people during the height of World War Two when he was the only one standing up against the tyranny of Naziism that looked to spread like a cancer across the entire world. We need men like Lincoln who after recently losing the light of his life in his young son who just died stood at Gettysburg among the fresh graves and roused a nation to triumph over the evils of slavery. We need men like my grandfather who was transformed by his faith in his Lord Jesus Christ and will not tolerate another man cursing his Savior in front of him and his wife. I want to see men like my father who displayed the kind of love empowered by his Savior as I witnessed him take on the hardships brought on to him and his family by the wrongs done to him by others and was strong enough to turn the other cheek when wronged as he follows the example of his Lord and Savior. We need men who get up on Sunday morning and take their families to church and live out their faith the other six days of the week. The world needs men who read their Bibles and lead their families in Bible study and worship in their homes. What the world needs is another option. The world needs Jesus men. Men who follow Christ. Men who are empowered by His Holy Spirit to be like their Master. Men who represent their Savior.

According to the new standard being propagated, a man has only has two choices. He can either be a brute and thug, or he can embrace the feminist definition and cower down to the powers that be in this society that we live in. The ad left me with the impression that any man who chooses to be a real man of character, valor and integrity will be labeled in the former category of the brute and the thug. So that’s my options? I thank God that He has given us another option of what a real man is designed to be. If you really want to see what a real man is I just have one name, Jesus.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, “Jesus is His own best lesson.” There is no greater picture in all of history of what real man can be. No other can show us the picture of perfection of what the ideal man should be, no other than the God-man Jesus Christ himself. He came to this world in a barn for animals. He never threw a punch, he never went more than a few miles from His home, nor did He wear the fashion standards set by Hollywood. Yet, He was and is all that a godly man could ever aspire to be. What was His ultimate purpose? Why did He come? For what was His cause to leave the glory of Heaven and invade this earth? He came to give His life for a lost world in rebellion against Him and that stood against His righteous standard. The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever should believe in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Romans 8:4 tells us. “But God commended His love toward us, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The ultimate example of what real men do was demonstrated by the God-man Jesus Christ and his act of His great love for His children as He willingly stretched out His arms on the cross. In John 15:13 Jesus reminds us, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” That’s what real men do and Jesus didn’t just suggest it, He demonstrated his great love when He didn’t look back to Jerusalem, but steadfastly set His face to walk to the place of the cross. The scriptures tell us Jesus went forward ultimately to walk the lonely hill of Calvary to die for a lost world in need of a Savior. He was abandoned by those closest to Him, but He walked on. He was beaten and spit upon, but He walked on. He was mocked and ridiculed as they put a thorn of crowns upon His head, but He walked on. He demonstrated the greatest love any man could have and He died not only for His friends, but for His enemies, for the rebel’s to His cross. He died for us as the scriptures tell us, “while we were yet sinners” and He did it out of His great love. What do real men do? Real men; God’s men live a life of sacrifice. The Scriptures tell us, “Husbands love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it.” The days of the Duke may be long gone, but may God raise up godly men after His own heart, in this new generation. Men who look to Jesus as Hebrews 12:2 tells us, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” May God raise up men who say as the apostle Paul did, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” No, we don’t need the macho bully and we don’t need the pacified pansy. We need Jesus men.

May God raise up a generation of self-sacrificing men who follow in the footsteps of their Savior unashamedly and with a boldness that only comes from the truth found in the Holy Scriptures. Give me another option for what it means to be a man. Give me the Biblical option of godly masculinity as modeled to us by Jesus Christ, Himself. May God make me and men all around the world into men who follow the foot steps of the Savior. Men who will follow Him up the hill to Calvary and who are willing to pick up their cross and accept Jesus invitation to, “follow me.” Will you follow Him? Will you choose to be a Jesus man? Or will you follow the culture? The choice is yours in this most desperate time, the paths lay before us couldn’t be more in opposition. The path of least resistance following the culture of what they say a man should be, or path of the cross. Which will you choose this day? For me I choose the path of the cross and through His strength, I choose to follow my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His example of Biblical masculinity. What kind of man are you going to be. A man of the world, or a man who follows his Savior? Jesus is still calling to us today through His Holy Scriptures where He says, “Follow me.” Will you follow Him?

“A Wretch Like Me” – David D. Hanson

I said, “It’s dead.” And that was the first time my little girl experienced what death is in her innocent young life. I remember it vividly. She was only 2 years old, and we saw a dead bug on the patio and she asked, “What’s wrong with that bug?” I said it without thinking, “It’s dead.” And at that moment I wished I could capture those words and take them back from her innocent ears, but it was too late. She repeated what I said not understanding saying, “It’s dead?” How we want to protect our children and their innocence from the cruel realities that they will eventually be confronted with in this life, but the good news is Jesus has already addressed the issue of the cold lifeless painful question of, “Its dead?”

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he may die, yet shall he live.” Jesus addressed the question of death for Mary and Martha as they grieved over their brother Lazarus who had been dead for four days by the time Jesus arrived. And Jesus also addressed the issue of death for us, his children. As the scripture tells us, “O death where is thy sting, O grave wear is thy victory?” I felt the twinge of sorrow as I had to see a little bit of my daughters innocences fade away on that warm summer day, but that sting of death has no more power for the believer in Jesus Christ.

Because of Christ the grave has no more victory over us. Jesus had the final say. Jesus tells us, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” What great news, what joy. Unless the rapture happens in your and my lifetime, death will one day inevitably come to separate us from the ones we love, but death for the believer has no sting, and the grave has no victory for those who are in Christ. It’s only temporary. The sting of death is gone and the victory for the grave has been vanquished by our Savior. The sin debt that He paid on His cruel cross for each one of us who has come to believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the victory that He secured for us when He walked out of the grave three days later is ours when we believe and confess Jesus as Lord of our life and believe God raised Him from the dead.

Romans 10:9-10 tells us, “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” I remember my own experience of losing the innocence of my youth. At just sixteen years old my family and I watched the flood waters engulf our world. We watched as the dark brown waters slowly encroached upon all that I knew in my limited understanding of the world. I was at a lost and slowly sunk into a depression. I remember my parents and their concern as they asked my grandfather, my Pastor, to talk with me. I sat across from my grandfather at my great aunt’s table where we met and expressed to him how I didn’t understand life and how it all seems to be out of my control and would be over soon. He looked me in the eye and I remember him saying, “David, all of us come to this understanding of life, your just learning it a little younger than most.”

Have you learned that lesson yet? That life is cruel and no matter what worldly success you may think you have attained that it can and will be pulled from your cold dead fingers one day? But there is hope. The only thing that really matters in this life is what you have done with Jesus. Have you accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, or have you put Him in a box? Have you put Him in a box where you only call out to Him when a momentary crisis comes? Do you put Him in a box when the only time you think of Him is when you go to church on Sunday, if you decided to go at all? It is certain that one day, unless the Lord Jesus returns to take those of us who believe in Him in the rapture, we will all be put in a box. At that time whatever we did with Jesus will be determined and settled forever. Our fate will be sealed. Will death have its sting with you? Will the grave have its victory over your eternal soul? Will Hell claim you for it’s own? It will without Jesus. He is your only way. John 14:6 reminds us, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” The only way to make it out of this world alive and to God the Father, in right standing, is through the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Will you choose Him today? If you will, you will be reminded as I was on that warm summer day with my daughter, that death no longer carries its sting and the grave no longer has victory over us who believe in Jesus. Charles Spurgeon said it well, “The first death we must endure unless the Lord should suddenly come to His temple. For this let us abide In readiness, awaiting it without fear, since Jesus has transformed death from a dreary cavern into a passage leading to glory.” Because of Calvary I can look death square in the eyes and I can gently look my young daughter in the eyes and sing, “Oh victory in Jesus my Savior forever, He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood.” My hope for you is that you may know that same victory over the grave and that death will no longer have its sting in your life. My daughter will eventually through the hardships of life learn the full reality about death, but my prayer for her is that she will also come to learn about her Victor, and receive Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Her only true hope. Mine and your only hope as well beyond the certainty of the finality of this life and for the hope of eternal life. My hope for you is that you come to know him too. And then one day you can look death in the face and say confidently as you quote the living Word of God, “O death where is thy sting, O grave wear is they victory?”

“A Wretch Like Me” – David D. Hanson

Peace, is something we all want but can’t find. You can’t buy it. You can’t sell it. You can’t acquire it without Jesus. Troubled waters can stir a troubled spirit. That was the case for the disciples as they struggled to survive in the midst of a raging storm. Where was Jesus? He was sleeping peacefully in the boat. So many times, as Christians, we too, like the disciples struggle and strive through out this life and all the time Jesus was with us all along.

They asked him, “Master carest thou not that we perish?” Jesus response was, “And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, ‘Peace be still.'” (Mark 4:39). Jesus should have been their confidence and trust. Regardless of the storm around them the disciples forgot the Master of the sea who was with them. Jesus was not worried. He was asleep on a pillow in the stern of the boat. After arising to rebuke the wind and calm the sea, Jesus then turns to his disciples, “And He said unto them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?'” (Mark 4:39)

Fear grips us like Peter. As he was walking on the water to Jesus he took His eyes off his Lord and started to sink. When we take our eyes off the Lord, we too begin to sink in fear when we become overwhelmed by the circumstance of our lives. Notice Peter’s problem. He took His eyes off Jesus. Pride tells us to take care of our problems ourselves. The world says, “It’s up to you to make it in this life.” God tells us, that He directs our steps. He is the one in control of our future. He determines how big and when the storms in our lives will be. We must keep our eyes on Him. And we can have this confidence knowing when we turn to Him and cry out, “Lord I can’t handle this anymore.” He will turn and say, “Peace be still.” Sometimes in His sovereignty He calms our storm and always when We turn to Him He will calm His child.

When life overwhelms you and the seas of circumstances overtake you, cry out to your master. You dear Christian can have this assurance, like the disciples in the boat with Jesus, He is with you too. Don’t look at the fierceness of the waves look into the eyes of your Savior and hear him say, “Peace be still.” Charles Spurgeon said, “The fear of God is the death of all other fears, like a mighty lion it chases all other fears away.” Scripture tells us “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” He is the only one we should fear and be in awe of His majestic power. He has the power over the wind and sea and He has the power to give you peace in the middle of your raging storm. Turn to Him. Look to Him. Call on Him. He is there.

And like Peter, you can cry out to your Savior and He will reach down and grab you out of the drowning fears that you face. His arm is strong enough and His love is great enough. He cares for you. Listen to the master say, “Peace be still” in your storm today. Remember in the midst of your storm He is there.

“A Wretch Like Me” – David D. Hanson

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When I open my eyes in Heaven; what a wonderful sight I will see

As I look upon my Savior; the one who bled and died for me

I will take in His majestic glory, as I humble my heart before Thee

I’ll be in awe on how He could love me, a sinner condemned unclean

He reminds me of His blood He gave, to purify and wash me clean

And there I will praise Him forever, for His glory will be a wonder to see

I will sing a new song of worship, praising the one who died for me

Worthy is the Lamb to be worshiped, all praise I shall give to thee

I’ll be in awe of His splendor and glory, and with my redeemed heart I will sing

Holy, Holy, Holy is my Lord God my heart will ring

Worthy is the Lamb to be worshiped, worthy is Jesus my King

He died on the cruel cross at Calvary, so from the curse of sin I’ve been redeemed

There I will praise Him in glory

Forever to my Redeemer I’ll sing

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, worthy is Jesus my King

From the cruel fate of sin He saved me

Forever to His cross I will cling

By the power of His resurrection, life He gave me

There my Redeemer I’ll see

“A Wretch Like Me” – David D. Hanson

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What makes Good Friday so good?

Three words; “It is finished.”

After thousands of years have passed since God first said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” and after the snake first tempted the woman and man fell into his snare of death, God had a plan of redemption. When Adam, the first man, was hiding from God from his shame in the garden, Jesus, God in man, was preparing for his first steps on the hill of Calvary.

Planned before the foundations of the world, God knew man would cave in and give into sin. Sin which brings death and suffering. But why?

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WHY?

Why would a God who is love allow this to happen? Why would He allow man to make such a deadly mistake? Why would he give His only Son to suffer for all of mankind to pay the price of man’s failure for sin? Why? The answer is simple and yet mind boggling. The answer is, God is love. God loved man, so He created him. Man was made to love God, but love without the freedom to choose is not truly love.

So man had the option to love God by obeying him, or choosing to rebel in the form of eating an apple from a tree that was forbidden.

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Man failed.

Adam failed in his choice and since then every person to ever walk this earth, with the seeds of sin in their DNA since the beginning have failed too. The good news is that where man has failed, God’s love is greater. God gave man the free will to choose and God new that man would fail, so He, being the just and also loving God that He is, prepared a sacrifice in the form of man to pay for humanities failure.

It wasn’t just any man who could save humanity from their sins. It took God coming down in the form of man to pay for the sins of the world. There was a price to be paid, and it took the sinless Son of God to give his life as a ransom for our redemption.

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The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Why though would God after man’s big failure and rebellion love us. Because God is Love. But God is also a just God and He cannot accept sin. So the God of love sought to redeem us, but His justice demanded payment for our salvation. How did he accomplish this demand? How could He fulfill His love and satisfy His justice at the same time? We find the truth in the verses of John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”

That is it! That is what is so good about Good Friday! Mission accomplished! The victory achieved! Man is freed! Where Adam failed to sin in the garden and hid himself. Jesus defeated sin and death as He hung on the tree for all to see. In the words, “It is finished” Jesus was saying man’s payment for sin is complete. At the cross of Christ came the end of sin and death’s terror reign over man, but that is not the end of the story. So many just stop there.

But something incredible happened just three days later. Jesus was risen from the dead in proclamation of His victory over death and the gift of eternal life. And because He is risen so will we who believe on Him also be risen to new life in Christ.

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“HE IS NOT HERE. FOR HE IS RISEN, JUST AS HE SAID.”

Risen to eternal life. Life after this life on earth where there is no death. No sorrow. And no pain.

Death is certain for every man in this life, but defeat to sin and eternal death is optional. Like Adam and like Jesus we to have the power to choose our response to sin. Sin which brings death. We cannot do it on our own, but the great news is that what we cannot do for ourselves, Jesus did for us when He died on His cross. Today you can choose to say, “It is finished” to your old life of sin and receive eternal life in Christ. That is what makes Good Friday so good. Your and my debt for our sins, was paid in full and our salvation was secured in those three words that Jesus spoke as he died on the cross, “It is finished.” Jesus did his part. In His great love He chose to die for you and me and pay our debt that we couldn’t pay. Now it is up to us to simple say, “Yes, Lord I accept.” Accept His payment for your sins. And then, like Jesus, you can say, “It is finished” and your old life will become new in Christ.

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“A Wretch Like Me” – David D. Hanson

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There is a great quote that says, “How we walk with the broken speaks louder than how we sit with the great.” I’ve been blessed to witness this first hand in my life.  You see we may teach with our words, but we reinforce those lessons with our actions.  I remember countless times watching my dad as we would pass someone on the street who asked for money, or requested something to eat and my dad never turned them away.  Sometimes he would give them the last dollar he had in his pocket. Other times he would go to the nearby restaurant and buy them a meal and bring it back to them. My dad never missed an opportunity when he could help someone in need.  I know it’s true that there are many who will take advantage of people who give, like my dad, but he gave anyway.

My dad could have told me to give.  He could have said it’s good to be a giver and think of others.  But I saw him do it.  He lived his message and whenever one of his family would caution him that he might be taken advantage of and he needs to be more cautious, his response was always the same.  He would say, “The Bible says that we entertain angels unawares.”  My dad never looked at the person asking for a meal on the street, or a dollar to go buy a hot sandwich as a beggar or someone who was beneath him and an inconvenience.  He looked at them like they were an angel.  He saw what we so commonly pass by, and at times have to go to the trouble to avoid as his opportunity to serve.  I have learned a lot from my dad over the years and I hope that his character and influence will be a legacy I can also pass on.  My dad always made it clear that as the Bible teaches us, when we do it to the least of these my brethren, Jesus said, “You do it unto me.”  My dad didn’t see the broken of our society as an inconvenience, but as an opportunity to serve Jesus.

How my dad has walked down the streets of our town and never missed an opportunity to walk with the broken and give to them at the point of their need has spoken louder in my life than if he was rubbing shoulders with the great.  People like to get their pictures with famous people. To be seen on the same level with persons of status.  But the only status my dad has ever sought is to serve the one who he seeks to honor, Jesus Christ, not only with his words, but also through his actions. Many may not know that my dad is also a pastor and he has preached a lot of sermons in his life.  But the greatest sermon he has ever preached has been the sermon I have seen lived before my eyes all my life.  A sermon that has never wavered in his integrity and his actions.  Larry Dobbs, who was the president of Dobbs publishing group, once said in reference to his father, “The only inheritance that a man will leave that has eternal value is his influence.”  Today as my dad’s birthday is approaching this month I have been trying to think of what I could give him, but the realization has struck me that he has given me something far greater than any physical gift.  He has passed on his influence in my life and I would add to that his faith and that is what truly has eternal value. My dad and mom have taught me not only through their words but also their actions what true greatness looks like.  To see it you must look down.  Look down to where the need is the greatest and serve. As the Bible says, “The greatest among you will be a servant to all.”  Thanks dad for teaching me how to walk with the broken and what it means to truly be great.

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“A Wretch Like Me” – David D. Hanson