We are doing another 36 week class on Authentic Manhood at Jester III Prison in Richmond, TX. This is the fourth time we have taught this, each time with a new group of fifty or more men. Six weeks are given each to these topics:
- A Man + His Design (Manhood Realities; Create + Cultivate; Manhood Definition; King/Warrior; Lover/Friend; Seasons of Life)
- A Man + His Story (Looking Back; Dad; Mom; Healing; All-Alone; Heart)
- A Man + His Traps (Idols of the Heart; Empty Promises; Battle Plan; XXX; Control; Significance & Comfort)
- A Man + His Work (Tension; Blueprint; Courage; Essentials; Traps; Catalyzers)
- A Man + His Marriage (Foundation; Die to Live; Friendship; Intimacy; Threats; Game-Changers)
- A Man + His Fatherhood (Foundation; Grace-Based Parenting; True Greatness; Sons; Daughters; Decisions)
I often use parts of this practical Bible-based material when teaching, counseling, evangelizing, and discipling people in the “free world”. The class equips us for Christ-likeness “in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Tim 4:12) and is very beneficial to men and women of all ages! We ask God to help us to “live a life worthy of Him, pleasing Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” (Col 1:10).
One highlight is the section by John Croyle. He oversees Big Oak Boys’ + Girls’ Ranches and Westbrook Christian School (in Northeast Alabama). Since 1974 they have been giving hope in Jesus Christ to hurting children (abused and abandoned) and Croyle makes 4 Promises to each child: I Love You (Emotional Support); I Won’t Lie to You (Truth); I’ll Stick with You (Security); There Are Boundaries; Don’t Cross Them (Discipline + Self Control).
Croyle finds that rules without relationship breeds rebellion, so he builds the children’s relationship to Christ and others. Luke 2:52 says: “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and people.” As Christ awaited God’s timing to begin His ministry, He respected His parents through His obedience, a model for us in a world where rebellion among all age groups is widespread.
Croyle’s 4 Promises remind me Christ’s greater grace to us and His Scriptures:
- John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
- John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us….He came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
- Hebrews 13:5 Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.
- John 14:15 If you love me, you will obey what I command.
Croyle reminds us that we must first receive Jesus’ gracious blessing of emotional support, truth, security, and discipline before we can practice healthy, hopeful fellowship with God and other people.
Thank you for caring, praying, encouraging, and giving to make this important prison ministry possible as we (like John Croyle) aim to bring hurting men (many who were abused and abandoned) salvation, healing, changed lives, and eternal hope in Jesus! By God’s grace, many are making progress at putting off the old life and putting on new life in Christ! Praise the Lord!