Mark Fox January 4, 2012

Random thoughts on the doorstep

As we stand at the door of 2012, I would like to offer some random thoughts that may encourage you, make you smile, or even give you a nudge in a healthy direction.
Someone sent me this from a church in another state: “We do not allow children between the ages of three months and fifth grade in the adult worship service.” Note: It is not a preference there, it is the law! The message went on to explain that adults will “worship better” without distractions. Two questions: When did training our children to worship with us become a distraction? I thought it was a privilege and a responsibility. Secondly, when did “personal comfort” become our highest goal at church?
Since we are on the subject of our children, let me encourage you Dads to hug your children every day. Tell your sons, especially, that you are proud of them. Their souls will bear that imprint throughout their lives.
Read a good book aloud to your children. And for heaven’s sake, be animated about it! Use different voices for the characters and enjoy the experience. You will be amazed at the blessings this brings to your family.
If you are having trouble with boomerangers (adult children moving back in with you), you might laugh when you hear Paul Shanklin’s song, “Can’t Fit the Cradle.” It is set to the tune of the classic Harry Chapin song, but the chorus goes, “Well, he can’t fit the cradle and he sleeps ‘til noon. The boy’s 42 and he don’t have a clue. When you gonna leave son?” ‘I don’t know when. We’ll have a good time til then, Dad, we’ll have a good time til then.’” At the end of the song, the boy finally gets married again and moves out. The Dad sings, “And as they drove away, it occurred to me, the boy had a front door key, yeah, he still had a front door key!”
Get involved in a good church. What defines a “good church?” Read Paul’s letters and see for yourself. I would say at minimum a good church believes the Bible is the word of God and the leadership lives what they profess. But there is much more than that. You don’t know what you are missing if you have never been committed to a life-changing fellowship of believers. Find a good one and get involved there. For those of you who go to church, this story will make you smile. Three small children announced one evening that they were going to “play church.” Their parents were pleased and proud at the same time, but had to eat humble pie when the children started running around in a panic, pretending to get dressed and yelling, “Hurry up!” “It’s time for church!” “We have five minutes!” “We’ll be late!”
Get involved in missions. You can give money to an organization like the New Directions, or have them come to your church for a “Pack-a-thon.” Call Scott Hahn at 336-227-1273 for details of how you can help feed children in the Third World for a whole year. You can go on a short-term missions trip. You can pray for the persecuted church around the world (go to for information). The needs and opportunities are endless.
Exercise. Paul said, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?” Don’t listen to the “no-exercise” pundit who said “If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.”
Practice gratefulness. No explanation necessary.
Have a happy and blessed new year!

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Mark Fox January 4, 2012
Mark Fox December 28, 2011

Lesson in obedience from the shepherds

The wise men brought expensive gifts to the Christ child. The shepherds just brought wonder. But it is from the shepherds that we can all learn a life-altering lesson. Look at how they obeyed the messenger sent from God. The shepherds said, after hearing from the angel that the Savior had been born, Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us. What do we know about the shepherds’ obedience from this passage?
First, it was corporate; the shepherds obeyed together. They exhorted one another to obey the Lord. Are you hanging around people who are in the habit of obeying God’s Word? Or would you say your closest companions are those who mock the Bible, or at best simply ignore it? The first group is harder to find, but well worth your diligent search.
Second, the obedience of the shepherds was immediate; they said, “let us now go,” and then they left where they were to go to the place the angel had told them about. The shepherds hurried to obey God even though there were lots of reasons not to; the bleating of the sheep all around gave them a perfect reason to delay. But they left the temporal to find the eternal.
Do you obey God with that much abandon? There is delight and surprise waiting for those who will make haste and obey God’s word.
Third, the obedience of the shepherds was grounded. It took faith for these men to leave their sheep and go into the city looking for a baby in a feeding trough. But it was not presumption; God had revealed it to them. Is the faith that guides your life moment by moment grounded in what God has clearly said? Don’t hide behind the cloak of, “I cannot understand the Bible.” I like how Mark Twain said it: “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”
If you just obey the parts of the Bible that you do understand, and “the main things are the plain things,” your life will be turned upside down, I promise. The shepherds understood exactly what God was telling them to do, and they simply obeyed.
Fourth, the obedience of the shepherds was rewarded. And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in the manger. We don’t know how long it took them to find the right baby. There may have been other babies in Bethlehem that night that were wrapped in swaddling cloths, but according to the angel there would only be one lying in a manger, a feeding trough. I can imagine the shepherds going door to door saying, “Uh, hello. Yes, well, we are looking for a baby. I mean, it’s a special baby. Well, uh … ma’am, do you have a baby in a feeding trough?” Perhaps the Bethlehem police were called out a few times, we don’t know. But the shepherds persisted. No matter how long it took, they did not stop until they found him. This is such an important biblical principle. In Jeremiah we read, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” And in Isaiah, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.”
My prayer is that you and your household would seek and find the Savior this Christmas. He is not in Bethlehem now, but as close as your surrendered heart.

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Mark Fox December 28, 2011
Mark Fox December 21, 2011

When great fear turned to greater joy

Dave Barry wrote several years ago about the increase of political correctness we find in our culture surrounding Christmas: “To avoid offending anybody, the schools dropped religion altogether and started singing about the weather. At my son’s school, they now hold the winter program in February and sing increasingly non-memorable songs such as ‘Winter Wonderland,’ ‘Frosty the Snowman’ and, this is a real song, ‘Suzy Snowflake,’ all of which is pretty funny because we live in Miami. A visitor from another planet would assume that the children belonged to the Church of Meteorology.”
I don’t know about “Suzy Snowflake,” but I do know that when angels appeared 2,000 years ago to poor shepherds on a Judean hillside, they weren’t there to talk about the weather.
Luke tells us that the shepherds were outside, watching their sheep, and an angel appeared to them. Let me ask you: What would you do if an angel showed up at your workplace? I am not talking about your wife, men. And I know what some of you women are thinking, too. I am sure my wife’s first thought at hearing this question would be, “An angel shows up at my workplace, the house, every day when he gets home from work.” Thanks, darling, I love you, too. This was an angel from heaven, however, not a redeemed sinner from earth. The shepherds went from calm to terrified in an instant. The Bible says they were “greatly afraid.” J.B. Phillips translates it, “terror-stricken.” Luke was a historian, and was not given to exaggeration. If anything, he understated the case. The shepherds were terrified and part of the reason was that the angel just appeared, out of nowhere, without warning. Maybe that’s why the first thing the angel said was “Do not be afraid,” nearly every time he showed up.
God turns the great fear of the shepherds into the greater joy of the shepherds. How? How do you go from fear to joy? By hearing and believing good news. Think of a person waiting for the doctor to come in with the test results. He has been diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer. Now the surgery and the treatments have been done, and test results will reveal the truth. The patient is filled with fear as he waits to hear from the doctor. He goes from great fear to greater joy instantly when he hears the good news: “your cancer is gone.” The angel says, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy … for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Heaven has come down, God’s Glory has come to earth. Great fear has been replaced by greater joy because of the greatest news the world has ever heard. The bad news for healed cancer patients is that they are still going to die. The good news for redeemed sinners is that though we die, we will live again because of the news the angels proclaimed on a Judean hillside two millennia ago.
You can sing about the weather this Christmas if you like. Since God is the weatherman, only He can “let it snow.” I would rather join in the angels’ song, translated by Charles Wesley this way: “Hark the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King; peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled! Joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies; With the angelic host proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem! Hark! the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King.”

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Mark Fox December 21, 2011
Mark Fox December 14, 2011

One does not have to be the loneliest number

Those of you around my age, or “old” as my kids like to say, will be humming the Three Dog Night song about now. It’s long on emotion and short on lyrics; in fact, the idea that “one is the loneliest number” is repeated 18 times in just 24 lines. It is the classic plot. Boy loses girl. End of story. Now we find boy “just making rhymes of yesterday.”
I am all in favor of singles finding love in marriage, but until that happens, “one” does not have to be the loneliest number. There are a number of young single adults out there who understand that, and are making their lives count for something right where they are. Sydney, Elisa, Hannah and Jordan are students at a local college and work part-time jobs as well. They shared in a meeting we had in our home for singles last weekend that their desire is to know how to answer the questions their fellow college students are asking about life and love and truth. They are sitting next to young people in classrooms every week who deny the existence of God and who mock the morals of those who live for him. These four Christian students are learning to seize the opportunities and speak truth to their classmates.
Amos works for a national college program and loves his job. He loves the church, too, and doesn’t want to spend his single years just waiting to be married. Ben is a college student and works for an online company that sells headphones. He, Amos, and David, a young man working as a landscaper, said they want to know of ways they can serve the church and the community. Amos said he is learning how to be a husband and a father by spending time with married men in the church, but he also wants to work with the singles in the church toward common goals. We talked about helping local agencies that work with the homeless or the hungry, and those who serve at-risk children.
Bethany teaches kindergarten and has her own photography business. Jaime is learning culinary skills and loves to plan and organize meals. These two single ladies expressed a desire to use their gifts to minister to the church, and are doing that faithfully. Jonathan is a college grad who works at a warehouse while preparing for a possible future in the military. He said he wants to grow in leadership, and is thankful for the opportunities he has been given in church that have stretched him out of what is comfortable.
One single man could not be with us because he is serving with the Marines in Okinawa. He has been invited by his fellow Marines on numerous occasions to go to places in town that he knew would not be good for him to visit. He always politely declined their invitations, explaining to his buddies that his relationship with Jesus Christ was more important to him than a few hours of illicit pleasure. This past week, his buddies approached him with a different request. “Hey, we want to know the places where you can go,” they said to him, “Because we want to go there with you.”
One does not have to be the loneliest number. One can change a life. Two can help each other up when they fall. Three are almost unbeatable. “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
Singles serving the Savior, I am encouraged by you. And, so very thankful.

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Mark Fox December 14, 2011
Mark Fox December 7, 2011

He is a servant of the church

Paul lists the qualifications for deacons in 1 Timothy 3, right after those for elders. The pattern for New Testament leadership in the church is clearly a plurality of elders, not a solo pastor. Deacons are chosen from among the congregation to assist the elders by taking care of the physical needs of the flock. That leaves elders free to tend to spiritual needs, mainly through prayer and preaching. What are the character qualities, then, that are to mark a deacon’s life?
He is a reverent man. This word can be translated “grave” or “serious.” It doesn’t mean that the deacon cannot have a sense of humor, but if that’s all he has, he should not be chosen. He is serious about the Lord and his faith is looked up to by others.
He is a sincere man, not double-tongued. You can trust that this man will not say one thing to your face and say the complete opposite to your friend or your enemy. Will Rogers might have said a deacon is “not afraid to sell his parrot to the town gossip.” Alexander Strauch writes, “Far too many Christian leaders have demonstrated that their word cannot be trusted, especially when it concerns money. They are self-deceived double talkers.” If a deacon is entrusted to handle the church’s money and minister to some of the most vulnerable members of the church, the widows and others with needs, he must be a man of unimpeachable character.
He is a sober man. That makes sense, doesn’t it? Would you trust a man who is known for his drinking prowess to be in charge of making sure the widows get fed? “There goes Harry, staggering down the road, off to Mrs. Miller’s house with her supper,” says one. “You think he’ll make it?” replies another. “I doubt it,” says the first. “Last week, he ended up wearing her supper in the ditch.” “Wow,” replies the second, “He’s a deacon in the church, you know.” What does that say of the church? What does it say of Christ! By the way, Paul could just as easily have said this man being considered for deacon is not “given to excess in any of his appetites,” not just in his choice of beverages.
He is a single-minded man, “not greedy for money.” Strauch writes, “Deacons handle money — other people’s money, the church’s money — and where there is money there are always problems. Money is an irresistible magnet for many people.”
He is a conscientious man, holding onto the mystery of the faith. That simply means the deacon is a Gospel man, and is committed to doing everything in his power, trusting in the grace of God, to be a representative of the Gospel. When the apostles in Acts 6 told the church to look for seven men of good reputation, that was the idea: look for men whose faith in Jesus Christ is talked about by others.
He is a tested man. This doesn’t have to do with a written test or even a probationary period. It certainly doesn’t mean that a man is put into a position of a deacon to help him grow up: “Maybe if we make him a deacon, he will stop criticizing the church so much.” No, it means he has already been tested. Like elders, these candidates for deacon are men who are already doing the work before they have the title. They have clearly demonstrated that they are servants of the church, ready to do whatever they can to assist the elders.
Thank God for faithful deacons.

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Mark Fox December 7, 2011
Mark Fox November 30, 2011

I thank God for the pilgrims

I asked my college students this extra credit question on a quiz: “When the Pilgrims gathered for their first Thanksgiving in 1623, to whom did they give thanks?” The answers may surprise you. More than 60 percent of the students said the pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians or the “King.” One person said, “Columbus.” Really? Just under 40 percent knew or guessed the right answer. Call me crazy, but I trust the history books written before the 1950s more than the ones today. For one thing, the older history books tell us that the Pilgrims had their first Thanksgiving celebration to give thanks to … God.
Dr. Paul Vitz, a professor of psychology at New York University, has studied the bias against religious references in public school texts. He reported, for example, the second grade text by Riverside (formerly Rand McNally) has 31 pages on the Pilgrims, but it describes them entirely without reference to religion.
One mother in an upper middle-class New York City suburb complained to the principal when her first-grade son was told by his teacher that the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians. The mother said it was simply a historical fact that Thanksgiving was a time when the Pilgrims gave thanks to God, but the principal replied that the mother’s position “was just opinion and not documented fact,” and therefore the school could not teach it. The principal said, “they could only teach what was contained in the history books.”
This is what William Bradford, governor of the Plymouth Colony, said:
“… I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.” Thanksgiving is a time to “Give thanks to the Lord! Call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples.” With that in mind, I offer this meager poem as a reminder of the lessons God teaches us through the Pilgrims.
Men of courage and women of honor, Children wide-eyed with excitement, A journey of 65 days across the Atlantic, One crewman and one passenger lost, One baby, Oceanus, born, The Pilgrims landed and the new world was Forever changed. Brutal winter brought sickness and death, Spring came none too soon, And found the weary Pilgrims cut in half, Forty-six were gone. The Wampanoag came in spring and taught The Pilgrims how to plant and fish and live, And God rekindled hope. With harvest time, the Pilgrims rejoiced, And asked their friends to come and share. Massasoit and ninety of his people came And feasted for three days. The Governor led the Pilgrims in giving thanks To God for His providential care, And the colony bowed their heads. O God our help in ages past, We stand in debt to the Pilgrims, For their courage to come and their Faith to stay, For their Compact of laws that laid a Foundation, for their zeal to teach and reach The lost. We give thanks today, O Lord, And we commit our lives again to You. Though the path ahead may bring suffering or death, Give us Pilgrim courage and faith to stay In the Plymouth place where You have planted us, With hope that does not disappoint And love that does not fail.

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Mark Fox November 30, 2011
Mark Fox November 23, 2011

When loving well saved a life

“I think it is time to make a decision about taking your mother off of life support,” the doctor said. The brother and sisters looked at each other as those words sank in. They told the doctor they needed some time to think about it, being conflicted about which way to go. On the one hand, their relationship with their mother had always been strained, rough around the edges, and much of the time they felt like they had to watch their every syllable around her. On the other hand, she was their mother, and this decision to remove her from the machines that were keeping her alive tore at their hearts. She was in a coma in ICU, and had been for months. The only thing she was able to give to them at that time in her life was a hospital bill. But, she was still Mom.
“Have you really loved your mother in the hospital?” That was Norm’s question for these three when they asked him what they should do. They shook their heads, not really understanding what the question meant. “Have you gone in there to talk to your Mom and tell her that you love her?” Norm explained. “Have you sung to her and read the Bible to her and thanked her for being your Mom and for sacrificing all she did to love you and raise you?” The brother and sister agreed that they had not done any of those things, but had just visited their mother, sat by her side and waited for her to come out of the coma or to die. Norm said, “Your mother’s body is broken down, but her spirit is very much alive, and is as attentive now as it ever was. You asked me what I think you should do. Praying about the situation, that’s what I believe would please the Lord, for you to both love your mother in that hospital room, even though there is absolutely nothing she can give you in return.” The son called his mother’s doctor that evening and told him they did not want Mom taken off of life support. “Not yet,” he said. “We have something we need to give her, first.”
The next day, the siblings entered the ICU room where their mother lay and began to sing, and read the Bible, and tell their mother that they loved her. They returned a second day and did it again. Then their mother came out of her coma. Two days later, she was moved out of ICU and into a regular room. Two days after that, she was sent home, perfectly well.
What happened? Only God knows. Norm Wakefield explained that perhaps this woman realized that her children really did love her, and she wanted to be with them. No matter what the explanation, one thing is certain. These four, mother and children, learned to distinguish the difference between loving the world’s way and loving God’s way. The world “loves” in order to get, which is really not love at all, but idolatry. That kind of love uses things or people in an attempt to supply something that only God can supply. God’s love is different. It is poured out on us who can give him nothing in return, perfectly demonstrated by Jesus’ death on the cross.
“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”
That we might love through him, also. That’s the love that can save lives.

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Mark Fox November 23, 2011
Mark Fox November 16, 2011

Making a case for a millstone

What would you do if you were driving down the road and saw a man sitting on top of a young boy, pinning him down, beating him with his fists? They both see you observing this horrific act. What would you do at this point? Some people would call 911, report the incident and drive away. Some people would roll down their car window and yell at the man to stop. Some people would park the car, get out and pull the man off of the boy. Some would go even further and give the man what he is giving the boy. How many people would witness the act, drive down the road a few hundred yards, pull over and call their father to ask him what they should do? And how many fathers, hearing about this crime being committed, would advise their son to come to the house where they could talk about what to do next? What? A boy is being beaten, and you are going to talk about it over a cup of coffee, sleep on it that night, and then take some kind of action the next day? By then, the boy could be dead. By then, the man who is beating him could be long gone.
That’s what authorities said happened on the Penn State campus in 2002, except the boy was not being beaten. He was being raped. A 10-year-old boy was allegedly being sexually molested in a shower by 60-year-old Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach for the Nittany Lions. A 28-year-old graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, entered the locker room at 9:30 p.m. on a Friday night, and noticed the light was on in the shower. He looked in and witnessed the molestation taking place, and Sandusky and the boy looked up and saw McQueary, according to an indictment.
The grad assistant later testified before a grand jury that he left the building and called his father, who advised him to come over to the house so they could talk about it. The question that is burning a hole through my mind, and through many of yours as well is: Why didn’t Mike McQueary stop the assault? Two of my friends said what I have heard others on sports-talk shows say this week: “I may have walked out of that room bloody and beaten by Sandusky, since he is a large, powerfully built man, but not before I stopped him from doing what he was doing to that boy.” The corollary question is, “Why would a father advise his son to come talk about it rather than sending him right back to the locker room to stop the attack?” Many have suggested that if McQueary had called the police right then, he may have lost his job at Penn State. Are you serious? Can losing a job possibly compare to what that 10-year-old boy lost that night?
Jesus spoke to this issue 2,000 years ago when he said, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.”
One final question that has been raised in my mind since this event has come to light is this: How many little boys and girls are being subjected to this same horror right in our own sleepy little town? If we know about it, we must stop it, or at least report it to the authorities immediately, lest we make a case for our own millstone.

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Mark Fox November 16, 2011
Mark Fox November 9, 2011

Church leaders must also lead at home

It is a sobering exercise to read through the qualifications for leadership in the church that Paul lists in 1 Timothy 3. Sobering because the bar is set high for those who would be called by God to shepherd his flock. Sobering because those qualifications are so easily set aside by churches today. Sobering because the consequences of elevating expedience over excellence (of character) are devastating. After all, the church will rise to the level of its leadership.
Paul chooses to explain only one of the 15 qualifications for church leadership, namely that the elders must be men who are managing their households well, having their children in submission with all reverence. Then Paul asks, “For if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?” How do we know a man is ready to stand before the church as a leader? Look at his children. Alexander Strauch writes, “The key measurement when evaluating a man’s management of his household is his children’s behavior.” Donald Guthrie said, “Any man unable to govern his children graciously and gravely by maintaining good discipline, is no man for government in the church.” Let’s face it, men. There are many of us who are simply unconcerned when it comes to the training and the discipline of our children. Not only are some men not leading, but also they aren’t even participating. As long as their wives are present riding herd on the children, things are fairly calm but maybe never in order. But heaven forbid that she should leave the children in his charge. He doesn’t have a clue, and furthermore is not even interested. He may even justify his lack of control over his children’s behavior by saying he has more important things to do, like study the Word or talk to the other men about weighty spiritual matters. All the while, little Johnny is running through the halls, terrorizing the other children in the church.
As Paul implies in this passage, some men simply do not know how to lead their family and train their children. The truth is, none of us really knew how to raise children when we first became fathers, did we? That’s why we must be men who will read and who will ask questions. Read the Bible, and ask godly fathers how they do it. Read good books on being a man of God and ask men of God how they do it.
One man of God who can help us learn to be good fathers and husbands is Norm Wakefield from Bulverde, Texas. Norm will be teaching a conference at Antioch Church this Friday and Saturday, Nov. 11-12, and the public is invited. His messages will appeal to singles, married couples, and our children. Norm will speak Friday night at 7 p.m. on “An Eternal Perspective,” Saturday morning at 10 a.m. on “Anchored in Christ,” and Saturday at 1:30 p.m. on “Imperishable Relationships.” Here’s a description of his Saturday morning session: “Do you ever feel like you’re weathering a Category 5 hurricane as you attempt to raise your children? Learn how to get anchored in Christ so you can withstand whatever comes your way and lead your children to do the same.”
Admission is free; a love offering will be received. I would love to meet many of you who faithfully read my columns and also fellowship with you as we learn from this godly man. You can read more about Norm and this conference at I hope to see you there.

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Mark Fox November 9, 2011
Mark Fox October 19, 2011

Go see ‘Courageous’

Go see “Courageous.” It’s the latest film from Sherwood Pictures (Fireproof) and their finest yet, in my nonprofessional opinion. The writing is excellent. The action is intense. The portrayal of family life is real. I was laughing out loud one minute and trying not to weep loudly and disturb those around me the next. There are no big name actors in this movie, but I did not have one “embarrassed chill,” as my kids would say, as I watched the relative amateurs at work on the screen. I especially liked Robert Amaya as Javier, a Hispanic father trying to provide for his family. Bounced from one job to another, with his family at risk of losing their home, Javier refuses to compromise his values to keep his position. Amaya plays his part to perfection, and his comic timing is impeccable. In between jobs, Javier is hired by Adam Mitchell (Alex Kendrick), a sheriff’s deputy, to help him build a shed. A hilarious exchange between the two men occurs when Adam thinks Javier may be an imposter. Another scene finds Javier riding in the back of Adam’s patrol car when they get called to an arrest. Adam can’t leave his friend Javier on the side of the road, but he is required to take a dangerous gang member to the jail. So, Adam tells the gang member that the man already in the back of his squad car is a member of a notorious gang and “you just might survive the ride to jail if you don’t provoke this man!” The scene that follows is a classic. Javier and Adam become fast friends and, along with two other deputies, the men form an accountability group to help each other be faithful fathers.
The movie is not short on action scenes, either. It opens with a car chase that will elevate your blood pressure, especially since it involves a man on foot chasing his own truck that is being stolen by a local thug. He hangs out of the driver’s window and wrestles with the thief as they roar down the country road. You wonder while it is happening why this man is willing to risk his life to save his truck. You’ll see. There is also a shootout between the deputies and three gang members that is well choreographed and acted. The cops would have been outgunned had others not arrived on the scene. When it is over, one deputy remarks to another, “Thank God for backup.”
That’s really one of the primary themes of the film, and one that resonates with me the most. Dads have one of the most important jobs on the planet, and we need backup. We need men who are standing with us, helping us stay faithful, encouraging us not to quit, getting in our faces when we blow it. The consequences of fatherlessness are terrible. Consider these statistics:
“Fatherlessness affects more than 25 million children in America. Emotional fatherlessness affects millions more. Absent fathers are the root cause of children who are oftentimes abused, live in poverty, and suffer psychological distress, which produces: 63 percent of youth suicides, 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children, 85 percent of all children with behavioral problems, and 85 percent of all youth in prisons. Children without a father become the statistics of every negative report and they most often live with a mother burdened by the stress of a lack of support for her children” (Wanda Littles).
These numbers change dramatically when men do their jobs. Go see “Courageous.” It may change your life, and your family.

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Mark Fox October 19, 2011