By Mark H. Hunter, Regional Reporter
BATON ROUGE – When Ted Roberts finished his powerful message on tearing down spiritual fortresses at the Iron Sharpens Iron conference at Istrouma Baptist Church, almost the entire audience of more than 160 men – including several pastors – came forward to turn their secret struggles with lust and pornography over to Christ.
“That shows a lot of brokenness in the hearts of men and a great desire to get connected to Jesus to resolve the challenges they face in life,” said Rev. Mark Lubbock, executive director of Gulf South Men, an interdenominational group of Christian men who sponsored the conference.
“Lives were changed,” Lubbock said. “In fact, one man, who was recently released from prison, said what he received at the conference will help him maintain a positive, godly lifestyle.”
The conference began with host Pastor Jeff Ginn welcoming the men and praying a blessing over the group.
“We come together to sharpen one another as iron does sharpen iron,” Ginn said. “I pray that we will harness ourselves together to extend Your kingdom to work together for the truth.”
Jonathan Evans, chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys and former NFL and Baylor University fullback, kicked it off with a rousing testimony of how God moved in his own life and how men today, like Abraham back then, have to step out in faith regardless of their current circumstances.
“We’re living in a culture where men are not experiencing their greatness,” Evans declared. The same way NFL teams draft college players to make their team great, he said, “You have been chosen for greatness by none other than your Creator – that is why you are here today. The time for you to become what He has called you to become – your greatness – starts right now!”
But men cannot fulfill their spiritual greatness unless they, like football players, follow the playbook, in this case, the Bible, Evans said. He cited Hebrews chapter 11, God’s Hall of Fame, as examples and the story of Abraham’s calling in Genesis chapter 3. The greatness of the team name is more important than the individual’s name on the back of the jersey.
“You first must come in contact with the Messiah transferring his name onto your jersey – not your name,” Evans said. “Abraham’s greatness was his connection to Jesus Christ.”
The men attended eight morning and eight afternoon break-out sessions ranging from being a godly father and husband to building character to responsible financial planning to how to build a local church men’s ministry.
Josh Garris leads the men’s ministry at the Church at Addis and said he wanted to learn how to better disciple his men.
“I got a lot to chew on,” Garris said afterward. “I found a lot of new ideas for the growth of our group.”
Ray Lee, an usher at Istrouma Baptist, said he appreciated the sessions on organizing men’s groups because, “churches are designed for women – that is their structure.”
Lee’s son Ronnie said he liked the presentation of Mark Thomas, “How to Make a Million Dollars,” and learned, “everybody makes a million dollars in their lifetime – it just depends how you spend it or keep it.”
Sam Mehaffie, director of Saving our Boys, presented “Radical Fathering,” a session that was so intense it ran ten minutes into the lunch hour. “It was awesome,” Mehaffie said. “This is a great bunch of guys.”
Keith Walker of Knights of the 21st Century, presented “Being a Knight in a World of Tyrants,” and “Real Sexual Freedom.”
“When a man‘s life comes alive it changes everything around him,” Walker said. “This conference really helped a lot of men see the possibilities of changing their lives and the world around them.”
Dr. Ted Roberts, president of Pure Desire Ministries who found Christ as a US Marine fighter pilot in Vietnam, said he is currently counseling more than 20 pastors with sex and porn addictions. He outlined how men cannot in their own strength break down those strongholds.
He used his own life as a pilot to illustrate. Once during a dog-fight training flight his aircraft spiraled out of control and no matter how hard he tried to right it, nothing worked until the Holy Spirit told him to let go of the stick. When he did, the jet miraculously righted itself and he did not crash.
“You have to turn it over to God,” Roberts said. “You need to get God’s word down in your soul. The only hope you have is the grace of God that has to be soaked into your entire being so you can be set free.”