Week of Monday, April 10 ­– Sunday, April 16
Finish the Race – Man as Battle Buddy

“Behold, the princes of Israel in you, everyone according to his power, have been bent on shedding blood. Father and mother are treated with contempt in you; the sojourner suffers extortion in your midst; the fatherless and the widow are wronged in you. You have despised my holy things and profaned my Sabbaths.” - Ezekiel 22: 6-8 ESV
You’ve heard me talk about my father, Cecil Boykin, a man who knew what was important in life. As long as he lived, he remained true to his personal values of God, family, and country. As I wrote in Man to Man: “All Cecil Boykin ever wanted from his American homeland was opportunity. Everything else would come from his own hard work, self-reliance, and, when necessary, generosity.”[1] God certainly blessed me with a wonderful father and mother, and because of that, I honored them until they left this earth. No one loved me more, wanted the best for me more, and was more supportive of me than my father and mother.
 Perhaps this is why the God of heaven includes the disrespecting of fathers and mothers in His detailed list of reasons that He is sending judgment on the land. “Father and mother are treated with contempt in you.” I find it interesting that the apostle Paul pointed out the important commandment God gave His people and how foreign this concept seems to be in our culture today. Listen to his words, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise)” (Eph. 6:1-2). Godly parents are always in our corner, on our team, and constantly looking out for us, so the least we should do is honor them. (In fact, the absence of godly parents in America is a huge problem that is destroying our culture.)
 You may have heard the 
story about Olympian Derek Redmond and his dad, Jim. It was the 1992 Olympic Summer Games, and Derek arrived in Barcelona determined to win a medal in the 400 meter race. Jim had accompanied his son to Barcelona, just as he did for all world competitions. The stadium was packed with 65,000 fans, who were bracing themselves for one of sport’s greatest and most exciting spectacles. The race began, and Derek broke from the pack and quickly seized the lead. Then, down the backstretch, only 175 meters away from the finish line, he heard a pop in his right hamstring. He pulled up in great pain, as if he had been shot. Derek got back up, ever so slowly, and started hobbling down the track. Suddenly, Jim jumped from his seat in the stands, leaped over the railing, and reached his injured son at the final turn, about 120 meters from the finish, and wrapped his arm around his son’s waist. Together, father and son finished the race, with 65,000 onlookers cheering, clapping, and crying! Talk about a battle buddy!
When the heat was on, Derek’s dad was there! Sometimes our first battle buddy is our dad, and what a blessing! However, some guys don’t have that kind of relationship with their fathers, maybe not much of a relationship at all. Yet, we should honor our fathers regardless. But back to this whole matter of battle buddies: we need one and need to be one to another man of God. Just as we can find ourselves unexpectedly injured spiritually in this race we call life, we each need a battle buddy ourselves. Someone who doesn’t care what others think, fights through the crowd to stand, and runs alongside us when we most need help. Then we need to become that kind of battle buddy for other men who need our help.

- Who is that man of God who really knows you, prays for you, and listens to you? Who tells you what you need to hear, whether you like it or not? Is there a brother in the Lord in your life whom you can confess to and pray with?
- Do you know of a young man of God who needs a battle buddy to whom you can reach out and make yourself available? Set up a time to meet for a meal or coffee.
Ask God to identify these men and the courage to approach them.

  [1] LTG (Ret.) William G. Boykin, Man to Man: Rediscovering Masculinity in a Challenging World, (Nashville: Fidelis Books, 2020), 17-18.