Godly Men – Marc

Forgive me if this is a bit rambling, but I’m writing a bit later than I would have liked. There are some men who come into your life seeming by happenstance. Eight years ago, there was a family that had been visiting our church for a while, but I really didn’t know them. They sat on the other side, and none of the kids were my age (at least from the perspective of a 16 year old). I knew the father was a teacher or something, but they soon announced they were moving, so my lack of knowing more really didn’t matter. Then, it happened.

This was when I was working with a construction company. We had a killer of a remodel job that summer. It was an old house and hadn’t been updated any since, I would guess, the late 50s or early 60s. Needless to say, it was rather labor intensive undertaking. As I said, the family was relocating. Mr. Marc had finished the previous academic year, and was transferring to a new school system in northeast Georgia. In the meantime, my boss asked him if he wanted to join the crew (He had worked construction while he was in college) for a few weeks in between the professional gigs.

Mr. Marc and I were tasked to work together, adding a light in the attic. It was the middle of summer, in the south. Attics in the south in the summer are best described as hell. Needless to say, it was HOT. If you know me, you know that I don’t take heat well. I thought I was not so slowly melting. The only thing that made those few days bearable was getting to know Mr. Marc.

I don’t know if he remembers it or not. I was still in high school, but planning on going to the tech school to pursue a certificate in residential wiring. (Yes, this now professor’s dirty little secret… my first post secondary program was a tech school.) Anyway… since I was going off to the big bad tech school, he gave me a verse to remember.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. ~ Colossians 2:8

That verse stuck with me the following seven years as I finished my four programs. Then a few years ago, they moved back. As time continued to go on, I noticed something. He was one of the first ones to treat me as a man, instead of a child. I know that sounds weird, but when there are people with an age gap, that you’ve know for your entire life, it takes longer. It was like with Mr. Marc, the gap was just small enough, and given that we really started to get to know each other when I was in my 20s, and he accepted me into adulthood.

Mr. Marc is a man whose passion for God is obvious in his life, and that passion reflects in his family. His children range from teenagers to infants, and their love and respect for him is obvious. He is not afraid to stand up for what he believes is right, even when his opinion is not popular. He has laid the foundations of many generations of Godly offspring. “His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed” (Psalm 72:17). Even beyond that, he has proven an example to me of the rewards which occur when scriptural principles are maintained.

Thank you, Mr. Marc, for being an example to me. Thank you for accepting me as, albeit admittedly somewhat younger, peer. Thank you for your friendship, and the friendship of your family.

Godly Men – Bruce

Originally, I was planning on just focusing on men who have journeyed further along life’s path than I. But there is one guy I felt compelled to include as a major influence on my life who is only a few months older.

It is quite surprising that we haven’t killed each other or sent each other to the hospital more than we have. I broke his arm while playing on a trampoline. He smashed me in the face with a railroad tie sending me to the hospital to get my lip reattached. He was there when I face planted into the side of a hill while horseback riding and broke six teeth. I was there right after he was kicked in the head by a horse he was helping to train. No, I wasn’t there when he decided he wanted to be part of the house we were building and nailed himself to the wall, but my absence then was the exception.

My earliest memory of the two of us was us deciding to play in the leaves instead of touring Appomattox Courthouse while visiting his family in Virginia when we were both six. Since then, we have played together, worked together, built several houses together, and become adults together. I remember the excitement when my mother called me to see how to look at a picture message of him and a girl with the caption, “She said yes!” I remember about a year ago looking across the packed sanctuary as Dana Sorrow and Bruce Clayton entered into a lifelong covenant before God and their friends and became Mr. And Mrs. Bruce Clayton. I remember, a few months ago sitting in a crowded waiting area with eager anticipation as Bruce walked out and told us that Bradley had been born.

There are people whose life is inevitably intertwined with each other. Bruce and I have that kind of friendship. His mother sang at my parents’ wedding. We worked together while we were in high school. And now, we are neighbors, and best friends. Bruce is the kind of friend that will sit on a truck toolbox with you through the night and into the early hours of the morning while every aspect of a major life decision is discussed, debated, and evaluated while the bonfire that once roared brightly is consumed to ash. He is the kind of friend who will challenge me when I’m wrong. He is the kind of friend who I’m okay with being locked in a car with him, my family, and his family for 16 (or more) hours in two days. I know he is, because we have done these things, and more.

I have known the friendship of Bruce for most of my life. Now, I am excited to see him become a man. I have seen him stand up and protect his family. I have seen him keep his cool when things became heated. I have watched from the sidelines as he has become an amazing husband and father. If I can be part of the man he is, I will be doing pretty good.

“If” By Richard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

Godly Men – Educational Mentors

The number one factor of student success in college is attending class.

The statement above may not seem to be very profound, until you consider it is still burned in my mind from five years ago. There have been two men during the course of my academic career who have provided guidance through the intense, often confusing journey through the halls of academia. Over the course of my undergraduate and graduate education, I attended two institutions. I was able to find a close friend and mentor at both.

At Georgia Military College, the man was Edward Shelor. This retired Marine Lt. Colonel turned history professor not only was able to bring his personal experiences into the classroom and make the material come alive, but also welcomed students into his office to sit and talk about history, politics (aka, history in the making), and educational topics in general. I’ve had the chance not only to get to know him, but also his sister and niece through working campaigns. As such, he’s grown to be not only a professional and educational mentor, but as a member of my extended family.

Once I transferred to Georgia College, I met the man I’d annoy for the next four years (and counting) quite by accident. My first class was supposed to be with Dr. Womack, but she had some health issues that semester. So, one Prof. Wilkinson fill in for the first half of the course. Now, known simply as W, he has been a constant source of advice, and not all of it was good. 🙂

The man is known for his pranks. While I never was sent to the airport to pickup “someone” (who turned out to be a skeleton from a closing doctor’s office) or had flowers sent to someone on my behalf, he still managed to give me a hard time. More than once I went to meet him for lunch (and sometimes dinner), and instead walked into a perfectly setup blind date with someone who typically either had major religious differences, already had a boyfriend, or in some cases, a girlfriend.

But, this was also the guy who convinced me to attend my first academic conference, who talked me into presenting a conference paper as a senior instead of waiting until I got to grad school, and the first one who actually told me to go ahead and do the thesis. During one of the most depressing times I’ve endured, following the election of 2006, he convinced me to get my application in for the Georgia Legislative Intern Program, one of the best experiences of my life.

His office is always open to his students, and to those who wish they were his students. It is known simply as Club W. If you walk by, be prepared for it to be full or overflowing. He oftentimes reminds me of the pied piper by the number of people who follow him around. He may have an idiosyncrasy or two (or a dozen, there’s a reason I didn’t use his full name) but he was a constant source of encouragement (and old style soft peppermint) during my time at GCSU, and since.

He doesn’t talk much about his past, which has led to some interesting speculation by some of the students. My personal favorite is that is the basis of the Most Interesting Man in the World of the Dos Equis commercials.

Tomorrow, a man I grew up alongside. We’ve been responsible for sending each other to the emergency room, and yet, we are as close as brothers.

Godly Men – Historical Heroes

You didn’t expect all my heroes would actually be living, did you? I am WAY too nerdy for that. 🙂 And the truth is, there have been quite a few historical figures who have made an impact on my life.

I have a book that I keep on my desk. Ok, I have a lot of books I keep on my desk, but I’m just talking about this one today. It’s America’s God and Country edited by William J. Federer (Amazon). This amazing complication of quotations and writings focuses on the founding fathers and their influences and catalogues their statements concerning God and Christianity.

These men, like Thomas Paine likened the American cause to a religious duty:

Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolidation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly; ‘tis dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.[1]

George Washington proclaimed that, “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”[2] This first president of the United States also said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”[3]

Patrick Henry, the fiery patriot of the revolution, is famous for his statement, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” But, that is only a small section of his speech that day.

We shall not fight our battle alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battle for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave…

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”[4]

James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, author of The Federalist Papers, and President of the United States, wrote that “Religion [is] the basis and Foundation of Government.”[5] He also wrote, “It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage… Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe.”[6]

That leads to my historical hero of heroes. This man not only was a driving force behind the Declaration of Independence, but he also served as ambassador and as President of the United States. In the midst of this, he and his wife raised and nurtured a son who followed his father’s lead and served as President. This is a man who would have preferred to stay with his family, but answered the call of duty and served his country in nearly as many roles as existed. This man is, of course, John Adams. He wrote:

Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.

The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure, than they have it now, they may change their Rulers and the Forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty.[7]

He knew the struggle for independence would not be an easy task. He wrote:

If it be the pleasure of Heaven that my country shall require the poor offering of my life, the victim shall be ready, at the appointed hour of sacrifice, come when that hour may. But while I do live, let me have a country, and that a free country![8]

Before God, I believe the hour has come. My judgment approves this measure [The Declaration of Independence], and my whole heart is in it. All that I have, and all that I am, and all that I hope in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it. And I leave off as I began, that live or die, survive or perish, I am for the Declaration. It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment. Independence Now, and Independence forever![9]

Regardless of what is presented in 1776 – The Musical, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were often bitter rivals. They wrote to each other often in heated discussion. In these letters, Adams said:

I have examined all religions, as well as my narrow sphere, my straightened means, and my busy life, would allow; and the result is that the Bible is the best Book in the world. It contains more philosophy than all the libraries I have seen.[10]

Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company… The most abandoned scoundrel that ever existed, never yet wholly extinguished his Conscience and while Conscience remains, there is some religion.[11]

Doug Philips wrote Ode to Dabney to honor one of his heroes, Robert Louis Dabney. Dabney had been personal aide to Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson during the war, and later became known as a leading apologist. Philips provides this introduction, “Robert Lewis Dabney is best known as the premier defender of Christian orthodoxy to emerge from the South in the latter half of the 19th century. A theologian of rock-solid convictions, Dabney not only stood against the rising tide of modernity, but he was able to predict with devastating accuracy the consequences of compromise for the American church.[12]

Tomorrow, I will discuss two men who are a bit more modern. These two men led and advised me through the often tricky and potentially devastating journey of higher education. But, to close this post, I leave you with Philip’s Ode to Dabney.

We must remember Thornwell, Palmer, Girardeau —
All Southern men who preached with power, unity, and flow;
But when it comes to logic pure there’s one that tops our list:
Hail Dabney, prophet of the South, our great apologist.


Geneva had its Calvin, Rome its Augustine,
England had is Cromwell to fight the libertine;
But in our land there was but one who dared to turn the tide
Of reconstructionistic zeal and yankeedom’s foul pride.


The feminist, the plutocrat, the wiley carpetbagger,
The Darwinist, the bureaucrat, and transcendental braggart;
The scalawag, the suffragette, the surly Statist simp
Were by your pen defrocked, exposed, and wounded, left to limp.


The solomonic wisdom from your pugilistic pen
Has rendered impotent the creeds of far less noble men;
And with a keen, perceptive flair that exceeds Nostradamus,
Your prophesies have proven wrong each foolish doubting Thomas.


You make us leave our comfort zone and re-engage the battle,
Content no more to tolerate the sophomoric prattle
Of Socialists, Republicrats, and those who compromise;
No longer may we coddle them or listen to their lies.


And so with joy we doff our hats and shout from every mouth:
Hail Dabney, wise apologist, defender of the South![13]

References:


[1] Paine, T. December 23, 1776, The American Crisis. Qtd in. Federer, W. J. (1996). America’s God and Country. FAME Publishing. p. 490

[2] Washington, G. October 3, 1789, From the city of New York, Presidential Proclamation of a National Day of Thanksgiving. Qtd in. Federer, W. J. (1996). America’s God and Country. FAME Publishing. p. 654

[3] Washington, G. Qtd in. Federer, W. J. (1996). America’s God and Country. FAME Publishing. p. 660

[4]Henry, P. March 23, 1775 Speech to the Second Virginia Convention at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia. Qtd in. Federer, W. J. (1996). America’s God and Country. FAME Publishing. p. 288

[5] Madson, J. June 20, 1785. Qtd in. Federer, W. J. (1996). America’s God and Country. FAME Publishing. p. 410

[6] Ibid.

[7] Adams, J. June 21, 1776, Qtd in. Federer, W. J. (1996). America’s God and Country. FAME Publishing, p. 8

[8] Adams, J. June 21, 1776, In contemplating the personal effect that separation from England would produce. Qtd in. Federer, W. J. (1996). America’s God and Country. FAME Publishing, p. 8

[9] Adams, J. July 1, 1776, Speaking to the delegates of the Continental Congress, Qtd in. Federer, W. J. (1996). America’s God and Country. FAME Publishing, pp. 8-9

[10] Adams, J. December 25, 1813, Letter to Thomas Jefferson. Qtd in. Federer, W. J. (1996). America’s God and Country. FAME Publishing. p. 13

[11] Adams, J. April 18, 1817, Letter to Thomas Jefferson, Qtd in. Federer, W. J. (1996). America’s God and Country. FAME Publishing. p. 14

[12] Philips, D. (2004, July 14). Ode to Dabney. Retrieved from http://www.visionforum.com/news/blogs/doug/2004/07/793/

[13] Ibid.

Five Days of Godly Men

Give us Men! Men-from every rank, Fresh and free and frank; Men of thought and reading, Men of light and leading, Men of loyal breeding, The nation’s welfare speeding; Men of faith and not of fiction, Men of lofty aim in action; Give us Men-I say again, Give us Men!

There is a lot to be said of bloggers. I love writing, though I don’t do it as often as I need. I love reading the writing of others. But, there is another type of new media commentary, the video bloggers, or vloggers. One of the Vlogs I view on a regular basis is “For The Record” with Molotov Mitchell of World Net Daily. While I may not totally agree with everything he says, I love the passion and fire with which he says it.

One of his episodes a few weeks ago was about a thirteen year old boy who, for his birthday, was given a gift from his father which I think is one of the greatest gifts that can be given. Instead of something temporal, like a video game console or another toy, the father set up 52 meetings for his son with Godly men around the country. (The son is chronicling his journey at www.52godlymen.com.)

Give us Men! Strong and stalwart ones; Men whom highest hope inspires,
Men whom purest honor fires, Men who trample self beneath them, Men who make their country wreath them As her noble sons, Worthy of their sires; Men who never shame their mothers, Men who never fail their brothers, True, however false are others: Give us Men-I say again, Give us Men!

No individual reaches adulthood without the influences of people around them. It is a wise father who seeks to ensure that those surrounding people are Godly men of character. Now, I am far from thirteen years old. And I have never traveled to meet me. But, I have not needed to travel. God has brought a host of Mighty Men of Valor into my life to give me advice and to who me an example of the Christian life.

Over the next five days, in honor of Thanksgiving, I am going to be posting tributes to some of these men. The list will not be inclusive, but without them, I would not be who I am today.

Give us Men! Men who, when the tempest gathers, Grasp the standard of their fathers In the thickest fight; Men who strike for home and altar, (Let the coward cringe and falter), God defend the right! True as truth the lorn and lonely, Tender, as the brave are only, Men who treat where saints have trod, Men for Country, Home- and God: Give us Men! I say again- again- Give us Men!
~ Josiah Gilbert Holland