PK in the News: Mass shooting at California school renews gun discussion

November 19, 2019By PK ManagerCulture, News
This article appeared in Baptist Press.

As the U.S. deals with its latest mass shooting, with at least two killed and four others injured Thursday (Nov. 14) at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, Calif., evangelism and gun control are cited to Baptist Press as possible remedies to stem the tide of violence.

Police and other emergency personnel responded Thursday (Nov. 14) when a 16-year-old student killed two fellow students and shot four others, including himself, at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, Calif.

A 16-year-old Asian male Saugus High School student described as the suspected shooter was being treated for a self-inflicted gunshot wound less than three hours after he is believed to have opened fire at the high school of about 2,500 students. One student was treated and released, and two others remain hospitalized.

In the hours following the shooting, many students were sheltered at Grace Baptist Church in Santa Clarita, a non-Southern Baptist congregation that hosted a night of prayer Thursday.

Baptist Press interviewed Southern Baptist evangelist Greg Laurie, whose 29th annual Southern California Harvest Crusade in August marked the longest-running evangelistic outreach in U.S. history. BP talked with Promise Keepers Chairman and CEO Ken Harrison, a former police officer who leads the evangelistic and discipleship outreach to men, and retired pastor Al Meredith, who was senior pastor at Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1999 when a gunman killed seven and injured seven others before killing himself.

Laurie, in his 2019 Southern California Harvest Crusade, reported more than 8,000 professions of faith, 65 percent of them from Millennials, he said.

“I believe that the ultimate answer to so many of our problems in the culture today, from acts of violence against others to even acts of violence against yourself,” he told BP, “is the Gospel. But we have to understand what the Gospel is.

“The Gospel obviously means Good News; the bad news is we’re sinners,” Laurie said. “The bad news is we’re separated from God; the bad news is we’re broken. The Good News is Jesus died to forgive us of our sin, and rose from the dead. And if we turn from our sin, put our faith in Him and follow Him, then He’ll change us.

“But that doesn’t mean you’re not capable of doing something horrible,” he said. “So it’s not just believing Jesus; it’s following Jesus. And it’s living by what His Word says.”

God is working among youth, Laurie said, “but we need to redouble our efforts to proclaim the Gospel.”

The motive of the suspect in Thursday’s shooting has not been revealed, but the shooting did occur on his birthday. He was taken into custody while hiding at the school with a .45 caliber semi-automatic weapon, authorities said.

“I’m sorry, it’s just not enough to say you know, ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people,'” Meredith told BP. “Why is our death rate so much higher? Why do we have mass shootings that have become common place, they don’t even register on our emotional radar? And other countries like Scandinavia, and Germany and France and Great Britain, they shake their heads in amazement at why we allow these things to happen.”

Days and weeks before BP’s interviews, two young men had killed 34 people in one weekend in August in the U.S. In El Paso, Texas, a 21-year-old man had killed 22 people and left 26 others injured at a Walmart, and a 24-year old male gunman had killed nine in a nightlife district of Dayton, Ohio. The previous weekend, a 19-year-old male was identified as the shooter after three were shot dead at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, Calif., about 300 miles north of Thursday’s school shooting.

“Hope is two-fold,” Meredith told BP, as tragedies make more common the term “domestic terrorism.” His views are his own, Meredith said, and not those of the church that in September marked the 20th anniversary of the 1999 shooting there.

“One, only God can change dead hearts into living hearts. Only God can transform evil characters into God-honoring people,” Meredith told BP. “In one sense, all these mass killings are an issue of the human heart. And it’s a sign of our failure as evangelicals to win the world to Christ.

“The other level,” Meredith said, “is it seems as though our problems are systemic in our society.”

According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the U.S. registered 3.85 deaths by guns per 100,000 people in 2016, compared to rates ranging from 0.12 per 100,000 in Germany and 0.03 per 100,000 in Singapore. The numbers, released in 2017, do not include deaths from armed conflicts, accidents or self-harm, the institute said.

“And that should tell us,” Meredith told BP, “there’s something wrong with the system (in the U.S.)…. Something must be done to change the system, both in the area of some semblance of restriction on the availability of automatic weapons. And the other issue is mental health, and somehow do a better job of caring for and bringing healing and normalcy to people that are emotionally disturbed.”

At the Southern Baptist Convention’s 2018 annual meeting in Dallas, messengers passed a resolution “On Gun Violence and Mass Shootings” addressing many of these issues. Read it here.

Harrison, whose Promise Keepers ministry focuses on evangelism and discipleship, sees the answer more in evangelism and discipleship than in gun control. “When you look at mass shootings, they’re … mostly young men who, they don’t know that Jesus loves them,” Harrison said. “They don’t know that they can be forgiven for their sin. They don’t know where to turn for answers.

“The number one thing the church needs to do is let these young people know about the grace and love of Jesus Christ,” Harrison said. “But more practically … one of the biggest problems that these young men have, is they don’t have dads in the home. They don’t have positive male influences, and they’re filled with anger. I was able to see the effects of that when I was a policeman in South Central Los Angeles in the Watts-Compton area.” There, he said, where 95 percent of the population was law abiding, the influence of gang violence was prominent and left people in fear.

Problems were exacerbated by fatherlessness and a lack of Gospel evangelism, he said, adding that a father in the home doesn’t necessarily equal a stable environment.

“We as Christians, we have got to be active in sharing our faith,” Harrison said, encouraging Christians to seek opportunities to share the Gospel with people they encounter in daily life. “Just say, if there’s one thing I can pray for you today what would it be? Unbelievable where that goes.” In his experience, people rarely refuse to talk and such conversations most often lead to salvation experiences, he told BP.

The suspect’s father died two years ago, according to ABC7.com.

Why We All Need a Band of Brothers

August 17, 2019By Vance DayCulture, Uncategorized

As America commemorates the 75th anniversary of D-Day this year, Promise Keepers’ COO Vance Day tells about his personal connection to one of the “Band of Brothers” who stormed the beach in Normandy.

As the green light suddenly glowed, a young second lieutenant shuffled up to the door of the C-47 and leapt out into the darkness. Other troopers tumbled out behind him. Parachutes unfurled and clapped open.  

The young, green pilots flying the C-47s sped up and took evasive action to avoid the barrage of German flak and machine gun tracers filling the air. As a result, the U.S. paratroopers were jumping way too low and at too high a speed.  

The force of the propeller blast was so great that the chin strap on Lieutenant Buck Compton’s helmet snapped. The rope on his leg bag also broke, and he lost all his equipment. As he landed in a Normandy field in the early hours of the Allied invasion of Europe on June 6, 1944, Lt. Buck Compton had only a jump knife as a weapon and was miles from his assigned landing zone. 

By day’s end, Lt. Compton — one of 12 green American paratroopers — would help defeat an estimated 70 dug-in veteran German paratroopers. The team would also assist in destroying four 105 mm cannons at Brecourt Manor in Normandy, which were firing on the American infantry landing on Utah Beach. For his bravery and leadership under fire that day, Lt. Compton was awarded the Silver Star. 

I met Buck in 2000 as a result of producing a documentary on that battle. I interviewed Buck and found him as down to earth as any hero I had ever met. He became a personal friend. Eight years later, sitting at my kitchen counter, Buck came to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ and entered the last stage of his life a believer.

Born in Los Angeles, California, Lynn D. “Buck” Compton grew up playing sports and dreamed of being a major league baseball catcher. In 1939, he attended UCLA and earned a starting position on the varsity football squad and played in the 1943 Rose Bowl game. However, baseball was his first love. He played catcher for UCLA and assisted the team to several winning seasons. Of course, having Jackie Robinson as a teammate helped.

When World War II broke out, Buck was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He was assigned to the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment as assistant platoon leader in the 2nd Platoon, E Company. He was young, in an elite outfit, and was about to partake in the largest military invasion in modern history.

One of the men in Lt. Compton’s platoon was an Oregonian named Don Malarkey. “He is one of the greatest guys I’ve ever known,” said Don Malarkey of Compton. Their friendship spanned years and provided great memories. Don was one of the 12 who attacked the German artillery at Brecourt Manor with Lt. Compton, winning the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Clusters.  

The two fought together in Holland until Buck took a German round in the buttocks. Don led the effort to drag Buck to the back of a tank and off the battlefield. Buck rejoined the Company just before the Battle of the Bulge, when Hitler made a last great attempt to forestall the Allied advance by launching a surprise attack through the Ardennes forest at a weak point in the American lines.

The Germans had to take Bastogne, a Belgian city that controlled the road network in and throughout the Ardennes region. On December 16, 1944, the German army rolled over the American frontline units causing horrific casualties. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower had only two divisions in reserve that he could possibly throw into the fray in hopes of blunting the German advance long enough for other units to be moved to the battle from other sectors.  

The 101st Airborne Division was being rested and refitted in Mourmelon, France, after fighting a grueling 78 days in the muck and mud of Holland. Lt. Compton, Sgt. Malarkey, and the rest of E Company had turned in their equipment and ammunition and were waiting a total refitting of combat gear and winter clothing when the German divisions hit the American lines. Despite their depleted number and the lack of sufficient equipment and supplies, Eisenhower deployed the 101st to Bastogne and gave orders that the city had to be held at all costs.  

Buck Compton and Don Malarkey were trucked in an overnight express to Bastogne and dumped out west of the city in their summer issue clothing, with essentially no ammunition and in weather that would soon dip below zero. Malarkey recalls Buck asking, “Do you have any ammo for that carbine?” Don, like many of the other men in this unit, didn’t. Buck returned with a clip and handed it to Don, saying, “Here, this may come in handy.” Off they went to stop the Germans who outnumbered the 101st (15 to 1, by some estimates), outgunned the Americans, and were rolling toward them with tanks.

Lt. Compton did not recall the siege of Bastogne with any great fondness. “We were outnumbered, surrounded, and without proper equipment. We lost a lot of men — good men.” He and his platoon endured the rain of fire dropped on them during the nine days they were surrounded. He saw his men killed, and two of his closest friends each lost a leg. After the 101st was resupplied by air and the siege was broken, Buck got trench foot and was shipped to the rear. 

Author Stephen E. Ambrose recounts the remainder of E Company’s service in his book Band of Brothers, which was later made into an epic miniseries released in 2001 by HBO. The miniseries features both Buck Compton (Neal McDonough) and Don Malarkey (Scott Grimes) as central figures in E Company. 

After his recovery, Lt. Compton was put in charge of all Army athletic events in the European Theater. His service days ended with an office in Paris before being discharged stateside as a First Lieutenant.

Buck did not consider himself a war hero when he returned home. “I did my duty and came home — that was it.” After the war, Buck finished his degree at UCLA, worked as a detective for the Los Angeles Police Department, and then passed the California Bar Exam. Eventually Buck became a prosecutor for Los Angeles County. One of his last convictions was that of Sirhan Sirhan for the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy.

In 1970, Governor Ronald Reagan appointed Buck to the California Court of Appeals for the Second Judicial District. Judge Compton served on the bench until his retirement in 1990. He moved to Mt. Vernon, Washington, to be near his two daughters and their families and provided weekly policy and political commentary on local radio. “I’ve lived a full life and have no regrets. I’m just glad to be around,” he often said.

Personally, I owe Buck a great deal. He was a mentor, a friend, and a colleague. It was Buck who encouraged me to place my name into consideration for appointment as a Circuit Court judge. He believed in me and supported me; we traveled together for 10 years all through North America and Europe, even lecturing on leadership and history at the White House and before members of Congress. 

Buck was thrilled when the Governor appointed me to the bench. He traveled to Oregon and spoke at my investiture (the public robing ceremony) as a judge. I didn’t know what Buck would say about me, but I was floored when he told the audience that he wanted to be like me. I was flabbergasted. Here was my hero, saying he wanted to be like me?

As I’ve pondered that moment, I’ve come to realize that all of us need brothers who will come alongside us and encourage us, strengthen us, and hold us accountable. I thought I was the main one who benefited from my relationship with Buck, but apparently there were traits in me that helped him be a better man as well.

That’s a big part of what Promise Keepers is all about. Through our upcoming stadium event July 31–August 1, 2020, we want you to see there’s an army of guys like you who want to be the men God intends them to be. But we also want to help you connect locally to a small band of brothers who make you stronger in ways you may have never considered — like Buck did for me.

Four months after speaking at my investiture, Buck passed away. He was 91. I still miss him greatly. We all owe a great debt to Buck and to each of those who have served our country. Many never came back. Please take time to remember those who have served — in whatever conflict — during this 75th-Anniversary season of D-Day. If you’re able, reach out and say thank you. Without brave soldiers who step up to defend the republic, we would not have the legacy we possess to pass on to the next generation.

This story originally appeared in the Promise Keepers newsletter. For more content like this, sign up here for the Promise Keepers newsletter.

Does My Work Matter?

August 9, 2019By Vance DayCulture, PK Men's Study Bible

Many of us spend quiet lives in a cubicle or in front of a machine where no one notices our work unless we mess up. If we don’t show up for work, someone else takes the pile off our desk or bench and life goes on. So how significant is what I do with those 40-plus hours of my week?

Psalm 90 was written by Moses during Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness. It is a plea for God to give meaning to otherwise meaningless lives. Think through the structure of this poem, and its impact hits like a sledge hammer. God is eternal; man is temporary. Apart from God, humans have no hope of significance. So Moses prayed for wisdom and for God’s compassion on man’s condition. The request of Moses’ prayer was that God would let man understand God’s workings, and then incorporate human work into the grand, eternal plan.

Moses recognized that God’s involvement in a man’s life is his only hope of real significance. Meditate on verses 1-11 and then carefully read verses 12-17 as your own prayer. As you go to work, offer up your activity to God as part of his eternal work through you.

Scripture Reference: Psalms 90:1-17

Promise #1 HONOR
A Promise Keeper is committed to honoring Jesus Christ through worship, prayer and obedience to God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Excerpted from the Promise Keeper’s Men’s Study Bible.

God Rescued This Woman and Child from the Evils of Abortion

July 23, 2019By Ken HarrisonCulture, News, Rise of the Servant Kings, Values
This article appeared in Lifezette.

As a person grows in Christ, he or she becomes a prayer warrior. I can’t think of a better example of a person who serves others through prayer than my own wife, Elliette.

She prays with women constantly. She prays late at night when someone needs help; she prays early in the morning with women who need her guidance; she prays in the hospital for people who are suffering.

Elliette prayed one day for a heroin and meth addict whom I’ll call Andrea. Elliette had prayed with Andrea’s grandmother for a year that her granddaughter would come to Christ. Finally Andrea consented to meet Elliette.

When she did, Andrea showed off the “daughter of Satan” tattoo on her neck, along with satanic symbols tattooed on her arms and chest. Unimpressed, Elliette explained that God defeated Satan and was waiting with open arms for her to turn from the defeated master of this world — and run to Him.

Elliette soon had Andrea and her boyfriend praying to receive Christ as their Savior. Only a few days later, Andrea learned she was pregnant. She was terrified because of all the drugs she had done and the damage that would have been done to the growing life inside her. She called Elliette and begged for money for an abortion.

Elliette didn’t give her the money.

Instead, she gathered several women and they prayed for Andrea and for her baby’s life.

I asked my men’s prayer group to do the same.

Elliette asked Andrea to meet her, and she showed up with another addict, a friend from high school who was not the father. This young man insisted Andrea must have the abortion. He explained that of their eight-person group of friends from high school, he and Andrea were the only two still living four years later. All were dead from suicide or overdoses.

He didn’t want to lose his last living friend.

Andrea and her friend raised the money for her abortion. Then Andrea called my wife and apologized for what she was about to do — as she was walking into a Planned Parenthood clinic.

We prayed. Inexplicably, Planned Parenthood turned her away. Our suspicion was that Andrea was too high on drugs at the time.

Andrea made another appointment the next week and called Elliette again as she walked into her appointment. “How could I not have an abortion?” she asked.

She hadn’t been able to stop her drug use, she said. The baby was loaded with heroin and meth and would likely be disfigured and sickly, she felt.

We prayed.

Her next appointment for an abortion would require more money because she was now nearing the 26-week legal limit for terminating the life within her.

While we were praying, the nurse gave Andrea an ultrasound. When the nurse left to go get the doctor, Andrea wept. The nurse never returned.

No one came.

After a very long time, Andrea got up from the table and walked out — only to make another appointment for another day.

Andrea’s next appointment for an abortion would require more money because she was now nearing the 26-week legal limit for terminating the life within her. She struggled to save enough money, but a few days before the deadline, she had saved enough.

On the day of her appointment, she headed to Planned Parenthood again. True to her pattern, on her way there Andrea called Elliette.

We prayed.

And that’s when God met her.

Suddenly Andrea had an overwhelming love for the life growing inside her. She panicked at what she had almost done — and cried out to God that He would protect her baby from all the abuse she had heaped on him.

She called Elliette again and told her the news.

We prayed.

We prayed for Andrea’s battle with addiction, for the health of her little baby, for self-control for her during the rest of her pregnancy.

A few months later, Andrea gave birth to a completely healthy baby boy.

The child is now being raised by Andrea’s aunt, who is overjoyed. Andrea visits her son three times a week. That’s the legal limit set by the state of Colorado while she tries to finish getting herself completely off drugs.

And we pray.

When Men Mess Up, Women and Children Suffer

July 10, 2019By Ken HarrisonCulture, News, Rise of the Servant Kings, Values
This article appeared in Lifezette.

I’ve been doing a lot of interviews lately in conjunction with my new book and the launch of a new era of Promise Keepers.

She prays with women constantly. She prays late at night when someone needs help; she prays early in the morning with women who need her guidance; she prays in the hospital for people who are suffering.

A lot of the questions are the same — but every now and then a question takes me by surprise, as one did the other day. And that’s when I answer from my heart more than my head.

This was the question I was asked recently: “Why is it that you have such a heart for men’s issues that you’re bringing Promise Keepers back?”

It was a fair question. And my answer was immediate: “I don’t really have a heart for men’s issues. I have a heart for women and children.”

The answer welled up within me. I couldn’t respond any other way.

Women and children are the ones who suffer when men are messed up. If it’s true that 70 percent of men in the church look at pornography twice a week or more, then who are our daughters supposed to marry?

How are we supposed to expect men to treat women with respect as their partners — unless we change the hearts of men?

What I saw in my days as a Los Angeles Police Department street cop in South Central is that almost all the problems in this world come from the pride and the greed of men.

Calling men to be men isn’t chauvinistic or somehow against women, although it is countercultural and controversial. But it is a fact that when men check out of their families, women suffer the most.

Single mothers are:

  • more likely to be poor.
  • less likely to be employed full-time, if at all.
  • more likely to be food insecure.
  • more likely to receive government assistance.
  • more likely to lack health insurance.

Children raised without their fathers are:

  • nine times more likely to drop out of high school.
  • two times likely to end up in jail.
  • four times more likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems.

Look at all the ministries that are fighting sex trafficking in the world. They’re all very, very, very important.

But every one of them is fighting a war that cannot be won by only attacking the supply side of the issue.

And for every girl rescued from the horrific world of slavery, traffickers will enslave 100 more.

But if we can change the hearts of men, we change the demand side. When we attack supply and demand — then we defeat this evil.

That’s why Promise Keepers is so necessary. It’s not that we’re aiming for men; it’s that we’re aiming for the whole world. We owe that much to our kids.

There’s a desperation in America, as I see it. Too many men are becoming too passive. Many of them are obsessed with video games, sports, and pornography — and it’s women and children who are suffering.

But when a man is a man and keeps his promises, those around him are cared for and provided for, as I see it.

Real men never do anything solely for their own benefit. But they’ll swim shark-infested waters for those who count on them.

That’s what a man is — being a leader, being courageous and stepping into the fight, cherishing our wives and families, and being unshakable in our commitment to making the world a better place.

It’s urgent today for men to come back to the basics of what it takes to be a man and what it means to be a man of God. That’s what Promise Keepers is about. That’s our mission, to help men understand who they’re called to be.

And when men understand that — it will change the world.

July 4 Thoughts: It’s Not Too Late to Save Our Country

July 4, 2019By Ken HarrisonCulture, News, Rise of the Servant Kings, Values
This article appeared in Lifezette.

Independence Day reminds us that when powerful ideas capture the hearts of purposeful men, the very course of history can be changed. Those men — our Founding Fathers — faced fearsome odds in standing up against the might of the British Empire.

And they relied on the “protection of Divine Providence” and each other, “mutually [pledging] to each other [their] lives, [their] fortunes, and [their] sacred honor.” It was no idle pledge.

Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, “Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.”

But they ignited a spark that couldn’t be extinguished.

When people ask me what the goal is for Promise Keepers in the new era, I tell them with a smile, “We’ve got our sights set low: All we want to do is change the entire foundation of America.” Men can absolutely do that — again — but we must get out of the stands and onto the field.

When men get saved — and not just saved but when they become disciples and give their lives to Christ — their families change, and their kids learn what it is to be men and women of God.

Men need action. And the problem today is that most Christian men are only expected to sit down, shut up, listen, and lather, rise, and repeat next week. That is not how men operate.

That is not how Jesus said the church is supposed to be. We’ve got to get involved in the lives of the people around us.

Dr. Howard Hendricks, a former board member of Promise Keepers, was fond of quoting this definition of football by legendary coach Bud Wilkinson: “I define football as 22 men on the field who desperately need rest and 50,000 people in the stands who desperately need exercise.”

Gallup found that 41 percent of Americans identify themselves as “born again” or evangelical. That’s over 134 million people. Imagine if every one of us got out of the stands and took responsibility for five houses on our street, prayed for those people, served those people, helped them out when they needed something — and witnessed to them. That would cover pretty much the whole country.

Imagine the impact if we just did that.

That’s why Promise Keepers in this new era is not only going to gather men from across the country and around the world in annual massive stadium events to remind them they’re not alone, we’re also going to connect men to each other in change-making teams in their local communities for discipleship and service.

And we’re going to teach the most dangerous, revolutionary book that’s ever been written: the Bible.

I was talking with a man recently who was complaining about how many millennials today aren’t clear about what the Bible says about being a man and sharing the faith. I told him plainly, “That’s because their dads didn’t teach them God’s word.” He didn’t like my answer, but that’s absolutely the problem.

When you look at Scripture, God gives the parents and specifically the dad the job of teaching his children. Unfortunately, we’ve outsourced the education of our children to others — but it’s our responsibility as dads to teach our children the things of God.

We need to be understanding, humble and loving with our kids — teaching them the Bible to be sure, but modeling righteousness and integrity as well.

The Christian men of our country want to know the Bible. They’re looking for someone to get hold of them and teach them, train them, and show them how to train their kids.

I recently spent time with a bunch of well-known musicians, youngsters in their mid-20s. We started talking about Scripture, and they were enthralled. So for the next three nights, I just taught them the Word.

Much was new to them — as was the process of an older man teaching a younger man. They said to me, “We need older men to teach us like you’re doing.”

And I said, “Absolutely. The Bible commands older women to teach the younger women and older men to teach younger men.”

I believe that through Promise Keepers, we can get hold of the hearts of men through proper discipleship and follow-up. The Christian men of our country want to know the Bible. They’re looking for someone to get hold of them and teach them, train them, and show them how to train their kids.

This is the way to change our country — and it’s not too late.

Men, America is counting on us. We must not fail.

One-on-One with Ken Harrison on ‘Rise of the Servant Kings’ and Promise Keepers

July 3, 2019By Ken HarrisonCulture, News, Rise of the Servant Kings, Values
This article appeared in ChristianityToday.

Today I am glad to welcome Ken Harrison to The Exchange. Ken is the author of Rise of the Servant Kings: What the Bible Says About Being a Man, and chairman of Promise Keepers, whose national event is coming to AT&T Stadium in Dallas July 31 through August 1, 2020.

Ed: In your new book you write that, “Satan has been attacking gender, gender roles, and especially masculinity with a vengeance over the last few years, and even Christians have been deceived.” Where exactly have Christian men been deceived?

Ken: Satan has been playing the long game on separating Christians from the love and unity we have in Christ. God says in Genesis 1-3 that male and female are the image of God, meaning that a fully masculine man and fully feminine woman coming together as “one flesh” in marriage is the best image of God that we have in this broken world. By attacking our understanding of what a man is, Satan is re-writing our understanding of who God is.

We must understand that God defines what a man is, not society. Men are called to stand up for justice, care for the poor and oppressed, and be jealous for God’s name. This is why I often say that humility is the mark of a person who is in love with Jesus and the outward expression of humility in a man is courage and generosity.

Courage, because when you don’t see yourself as any more important than anyone else, you will always stand up for the truth and for others. Generosity, because a humble heart gives possessions, time, and spirit with abandon because humility trusts in God to fill our cup back up to overflowing.

Ed: We live in a culture that attacks the very idea of masculinity, that wants men to be silent and soft. How are men supposed to act today—especially Christian men? What does it mean to be a “true man?”

Ken: A man is one of action, not reaction. He understands that he is accountable for solving problems and making the world a better place for everyone in his charge. He is constantly looking for areas where those he loves are struggling or in need and he fills those needs.

A man is designed by God to initiate, a woman is designed to respond to a man who initiates in humility and love. Too many men today are waiting for someone else to initiate.

When we see a problem in our lives, we first examine what we may have done to cause it, then we look for ways to solve it. We don’t blame others, we lift them up.

Lastly, a Christian man understands that his life must be one that points to Christ in every way. We are responsible for the spiritual state of our wives and kids. This means that knowing and understanding God’s Word so that we can teach our families and give them perspective to counter the lies of the world is one of the most masculine things we can do.

Ed: What do you mean when you say, “a hallmark of being a man is accountability?”

Ken: One of the most important aspects of masculinity is accountability. And the beginning of accountability is self-control. A man takes responsibility. A passive man looks to take from his relationships. He looks to be served rather than to serve. A real man comes to his relationships with an offer to serve and he evaluates his relationships based on how well he keeps his promises and commitments within those relationships.

Ed: You write about a time when God broke you when he brought you completely to the end of yourself. Why is the experience of brokenness so essential?

Ken: Pride is an insidious disease from which we all suffer. It must be destroyed before we can really walk hand in hand with our Savior. If you look at your spiritual failures, even the fleshly failures like slandering others, sexual sin, or greed, you will see that pride is usually at the core, spurring on your flesh. Not serving and lifting up others stirs up so many sins. It is a lack of following God’s words: “In humility, consider others as more important than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).

“Walking with God is a long process of going from the sinful nature’s pride to a place of complete faith. We’re all on that journey, and God wants to bring us each closer to him.

Sometimes it is through his gentle nudging as we read the Bible and pray. Sometimes, though, it takes a time of great pain because God must break us in some area so that we can really grow. I have found that real, life-changing growth always come through pain and sometimes, pain that results in utter brokenness before we’ll come to God in desperation where He can then truly work in our hearts.

Ed: Last year you became the new chairman of Promise Keepers and your team is in the midst of preparing for a huge stadium event next summer in Dallas. Why is this a good time for a new era of Promise Keepers?

Ken: God’s timing on this is so perfect because the church is finally nearing the state of desperation that I described previously. Women and children are suffering under the yoke of emasculated men, and men themselves are tired of living lives without meaning.

Promise Keepers will remind men of who God says they are and what he called them to be. Our lives matter greatly and our families are counting on us to rise up and be counted. Promise Keepers is not only calling men back to their identity in Christ but we, as an organization, are returning to our identity, which is an NFL stadium full of men praising our Lord.

Father’s Day Message: The Best Dads Don’t Need a Solution to Every Problem

June 15, 2019By Ken HarrisonCulture, News, Rise of the Servant Kings, Values
This article appeared in Lifezette.

This Father’s Day, I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a father like me — a conversation that all fathers need to face.

I had just finished giving a presentation to a large audience when a line of people formed to ask questions or give their input to the talk.

Then I noticed the desperate face of a desperate man.

“I need to talk to you,” he said.

I shook more hands and answered a few more questions, and then as the crowd thinned, he and I were able to move to a private corner to grab a few uninterrupted minutes.

“My wife doesn’t respect me!” the man told me. “My kids don’t listen to me.” His face was shrouded in anger, the kind of anger that comes from pain. We settled down for a long conversation.

He was a retired Marine — and hew looked like one. He was lean and muscular and stared through me as we talked. We went through the usual symptoms of the problem until we got to the root.

He didn’t listen to his family.

“Man,” I told him, “if there’s one thing you can offer your wife and kids, it’s to listen. You can’t imagine how important it is to them that you hear them out. Don’t have a solution to the problem, don’t offer to help. Just listen and try to empathize.”

“I try,” he said, “but it’s all just so boring. My daughter goes on and on about who’s dating who. She talks about all her silly friends. It drives me crazy. I really don’t care. I sit at the dinner table and wait for it all to be over so I can turn on the TV and unwind.”

I paused. “You know,” I told him, “when I was a newlywed, my wife was traumatized because her jewelry store was burglarized. She went on and on about it.”

“In those days I was a cop in a brutal area of Los Angeles,” I added. “I averaged over one gun arrest and two felony arrests every day. I had to buy six watches in one year because mine kept getting shattered while I was fighting with some bad guy in a gutter or tackling some gangster in a parking lot. In my world, a jewelry store getting burglarized was nothing.”

“But as I watched her face while she told her story, I realized that she felt violated. Some bad person had broken into her store and taken some of her inventory. I listened intently to her because it was important to her. I don’t know why I had the wisdom to do that, but God gave it to me.”

To be a true disciple of Jesus, one must take a genuine interest in the cares of others.

“Who’s dating who may not matter to you — but it matters a lot to your daughter, and for that reason, you should give her your full attention. She’s developing her expectations of the man she’ll marry based on how her dad treats her — and that’s you. Are you teaching her that she’s important and deserves to be listened to? If you’re bored by what matters to her, she’s picking up on it. And she’ll carry that with her for the rest of her life.”

“You need to teach her,” I added, “that what is important to her is important to you, simply because it’s important to her.”

“Everything I just said to you ain’t bad marriage advice either,” I also told him. “You’re a Marine. I doubt that your wife doesn’t respect you, but I’m betting she doesn’t feel cherished by you. She doesn’t feel cherished because you don’t listen to her.”

About six months later, I spoke again in that city. And wouldn’t you know it: That same Marine came up to me afterward. I recognized him right away. He had the same desperate look in his eyes. “How’s it going with your family?” I asked him.

“Well, you know,” he said, “I tried to take your advice, but it doesn’t work. I try to listen, but my mind just drifts away.”

He seemed to want to settle in for another long conversation in which I’d give him advice that he’d then choose to ignore.

Instead, I stood up and clapped him on the shoulder. “If you want to take up my time again, make sure you know the names of all your daughter’s friends. And tell me all about them.”

I spoke again in that city again about a year later — and he wasn’t there.

We men understand that our responsibilities are to protect and provide for our families. Often, the most important thing we can provide is to make them feel loved. All too often, men listen for an assignment: We listen for something to do, or for a problem to solve. Yet sometimes, just listening and caring is all our loved ones really need.

To be a true disciple of Jesus, one must take a genuine interest in the cares of others. Things that wouldn’t normally interest us become interesting because they matter to someone we love.

As you examine your life in Christ, don’t look at the outside — at whether you’re following a certain set of rules. Instead, look on the inside. Do you take a genuine interest in what’s important to others? Do you pray daily for them? Do you authentically wish the best for them?

If not, take a deep look into your heart and ask God to help you to see others through the eyes with which He sees them.

He will answer that prayer, and the world will begin to look vastly different and more interesting.

This Father’s Day, I pray that God gives you and me and all fathers the patience and strength to really listen. I pray that He makes us fathers worth celebrating.

The Oscars & The Attack on Masculinity

March 12, 2019By Ken HarrisonCulture

Sunday, February 24, was the Oscars, full of drama about who would win, who shouldwin, what the winners would say, and of course, what they were wearing on the red carpet. This year, as Rachel Syme noted in The New YorkerBilly Porter, one of the stars of the FX series, “Pose,”

“… managed to outdo himself yet again. He wore a ‘tuxedo gown’ … The top half of the outfit fit like a traditional men’s tuxedo, in plush black velvet, with oversized satin lapels; the bottom half, also an inky river of velvet, flared out into a massive bell skirt. His torso looked like it was smoking a cigar with a brandy, while his skirt looked like it was ready for a gothic Victorian-era coronation.”

When asked why he wore the gown, Porter said, “My goal is to be a walking piece of political art every time I show up. To challenge expectations. What is masculinity? What does that mean?”

Porter isn’t the only one looking to buy a vowel. The American Psychological Association has decreed that “traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful.” The forces of political correctness are seeking to throw out the idea of assigned sex at birth in favor of a spectrum of gender from which we can choose. And then there is Gillette’s Super Bowl ad, “We Believe: The Best Man Can Be,” which famously hit bottom and kept digging with 1.4 million dislikes to 775 thousand likes by both depicting a false image of masculinity and offering a flawed alternative for their false image.

And what do all of these trends have in common? They reject biblical wisdom and replace it with a vision of masculinity which is soft, silent, and impotent at the exact moment when the world needs men who are servant kings — men who are proactive, courageous and humble, men who take decisive action to serve their neighbors, families, churches, and communities, men who step out in bold obedience and trust in God’s Word.

The Bible is clear: “God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female” (Genesis 1:27).

Satan has been around since before the human race, so he is playing the long game. Separating God’s beloved children from Him is a marathon for Satan, not a sprint. His lies build on his lies until even people who love Jesus have assumptions they believe to be true that are not. His schemes last far longer than our short lifetimes. We seek passionately to avoid becoming pawns in his wicked game; therefore, we must understand his plans so that we can fight and defeat them.

Satan has been attacking gender, gender roles, and especially masculinity with a vengeance over the last few years, and even Christians have been deceived.

Satan’s scheme, now and forever, is to disrupt the two most foundational building blocks of society:

  1. Our relationship with God
  2. Our relationship with one another

First, there is something not right in us, and to make things right, we must throw ourselves on the grace of the Creator. A philosophical change that started centuries ago has spread across the world to convince people that there isn’t actually anything wrong with them and, if there is, it isn’t their fault. We are seeing Romans 1 play out before us now — not only are sin and perversity abounding, but people publicly commend those who live this way.

Second, there is nothing more foundational to who we are and how we relate to one another than the fact that God created us male and female. Humanity was created as two types — both are equally loved in God’s eyes and both will have equal status in heaven. However, their relation to one another on earth is defined through distinctive roles determined by God at the foundation of creation.

The two genders, male and female, are together the earthly representation of who God is. Neither, on its own, is a full representation. This is one reason marriage between a man and a woman is so important and meaningful. The truest representation of God’s nature is a healthy marriage between a fully masculine man and a fully feminine woman, each acting in submission to Christ and in submission to each other.

What is masculinity? The life of Jesus embodied true masculinity. It’s being a servant king. If you’re not serving others like Jesus, you’re not fully walking in biblical manhood.

***Adapted from Ken Harrison’s forthcoming book, Rise of the Servant Kings: What the Bible Says About Being a Man.

This article also appeared in CBN News.

Treat life like the Super Bowl, not the preseason

February 4, 2019By Ken HarrisonCulture, News, Rise of the Servant Kings, Values
This article appeared in ChristianityToday.

How would you complete the following sentence? The goal of my life is ____________.

The goal of football is to score touchdowns. The goal of running a company is to increase profits or stock value. What’s the goal of your life? Matthew 25:14-30 provides the best answer: to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

A man with a goal in life is active because he knows what he’s pursuing. Let’s live lives that the Savior deems “Well done!”

God delights and communicating himself in his ways to every man who is prepared to receive him. God can work in you only to the extent that you are submitted to him. We all have some “self” left in us. Every believer is granted the Holy Spirit the moment he receives Christ (Ephesians 1:13-14). The amount of influence the Spirit has on you depends on the extent of your surrender: the more self, the less God; the less self, the more God.

When I was with the LAPD and arrested someone, sometimes I was present when the jailer fingerprinted the prisoner. He would roll each finger in ink and then roll it onto the page. The jailer needed the finger absolutely yielded to him to get a good print. If there were any smudges, he would have to throw the card out and start over.

Often the prisoner would try to help and would smudge the print. The jailer would get angry and order him to relax every muscle and trust the jailer to do all the work. Some prisoners were unable to simply yield, and the process took a long time compared with those who yielded and completed the process easily.

That’s the picture of how God wants to work with us — life gets better when we relax and let him work through us. He’s patient, willing to work on us throughout our entire lives, teaching us to yield to him. But we have to let him do it. Self wants to help; self wants to get the credit. It chafes at the idea that God will do all and self can do nothing — except yield.

In our efforts to “help,” we have smudged the edges, putting the ugly print of human pride and self-effort where only our Lord should have received the glory. Jesus said that for us to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must be like little children (Matthew 18:3). He meant that our surrender must be one of simple, childlike trust in our Father. He will accept our surrender and fill us with his great power and fellowship. 

Too many men today are doing life like it’s a preseason football game. We think that because we’ve received Christ and can’t lose our salvation, there is nothing left but to seek our own pleasures and obey some set of rules that someone somewhere told us. We do the best we can, but it really doesn’t count, does it?

No one likes preseason football. God told us to snatch people from the hands of Satan and bring them into his loving arms. He’s told us to protect and provide for his children and to care for the less fortunate. Life is the playoffs, not the preseason.

And when the game’s over, we’ll get only one shot to hear Jesus say, “Well done, my son!” So let’s do the work that God gave us and, with it, experience the joy and reward of serving our Lord.