Football's Red Zone: Man's Metaphor for Life
- 2004 6 Nov
Title: "Every Man, God's Man"
Authors: Kenny Luck & Stephen Arterburn
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
The truth is, I'm not much of a football fan. If I have to declare allegiance, it's to Auburn. Right now, it's pretty great to be an Auburn fan – this week, anyway. Most of the time, though, I pretty much ignore sports. And I sometimes grow tired of men's literature that leans so heavily on sports metaphors which, to be honest, are often a real stretch.
Yes, I know Paul did it with his New Testament references to running the race. But Paul's metaphors make sense, unlike some of those I read these days. Still, I must confess I just finished reading "Every Man, God's Man" (Waterbrook, 2003), which uses a football metaphor that's just about perfect.
Author Kenny Luck founded Every Man Ministries, and co-writer Stephen Arterburn kicked off the far-reaching "Every Man" book series with "Every Man's Battle" in 2000. Arterburn, founder and chairman of New Life Clinics, says he has been surprised at the impact that first book would have.
"At the time, men were not talking about lust and porn in churches," Arterburn said. "So I was thinking it would meet a need for a very small group of men brave enough to be in a sexual sin recovery group of some kind."
He hopes "Every Man, God's Man" will help men progress from "taking care of a problem to taking care of their character."
Back to Football
In "Every Man, God's Man," Luck explains that he and his family are UCLA Bruins fans. Then he writes, "From the opening kickoff, I always edge up in my bleacher seat when the Bruins enter the red zone, that patch of grass between the twenty-yard line and the goal line. Everyone knows UCLA has a great chance to score when they reach that zone .... The red zone is all about the heart and desire to drive the ball all the way in."
We guys do live in life's red zone a lot – with a goal line so close, but seeming so unreachable. Struggle, fear, determination, preparation, obstacles, strategy, desire, discouragement, strength, exhaustion, courage and toughness all come into play.
"I've long felt that the red zone is an apt metaphor for our spiritual journeys," writes Luck. He's right on target. Sexual integrity and spiritual surrender are the themes that run through "Every Man, God's Man."
Luck says every man needs a renovation of the heart. The men's movement of the last two decades has challenged men "to love more, say more, pray more, read the Bible more, discipline themselves more." He doesn't diminish the validity of those acts, but reminds us that the character of man cannot deliver the goods without a heart change.
I read the book one chapter a week, with a group of men who met to discuss the chapter and its application in our lives. Week after week, we agreed – Luck charges into the end zone every time.
Each chapter spells out a principle a man must cultivate if he is to reach an optimum relationship with Christ. Luck gets to the heart of the matter by holding a spotlight on the macho images we construct and the weaknesses we demonstrate.
For example, sexual integrity is the focus of chapter eight – "Are You Giving the Devil a Foothold?" – where we read the story of Jeremy, who would say his faith is the "most important thing" in his life. However, Luck writes:
"For years, Jeremy has allowed his eyes to feed on women's bodies. Jeremy is what alcoholics would call a sipper: He doesn't keep a stash of Hustler magazines in the basement, but he never stops his eyes from roaming when he's out and about .... He calls his visual treats 'eye candy.' No reason he can't look over the menu, even if he isn't ordering."
You've probably guessed the story-line already. Yep, an affair.
Interesting word, isn't it – affair. Men call it an affair – not committing adultery, not breaking God's law, not cheating on their wives, not breaking their marriage vows.
The guys in my group never had to finish reading Luck's illustrations. It's as if they were from our own lives. We knew the end before we got there.
The good news is that Luck and Arterburn challenge men to take inventory of their relationships, their walk with the Lord and their integrity in the workplace. It's a readable volume with practical pointers for living – as Arterburn says, taking care of character.
Much of our life is going to be spent in the red zone. "Every Man, God's Man" is a play book for a red zone offense, helping men develop strategy, cultivate toughness and drive in for the TD.
© 2004 AgapePress. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Randall Murphree, a regular contributor to AgapePress, is editor of AFA Journal, a monthly publication of the American Family Association.