Conference seeks to strengthen lives

When Ted Roberts finished a powerful message on tearing down spiritual fortresses, almost the entire audience of more than 160 men, including several pastors, went forward to repent of secret struggles.

“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 the Rev. Mark Lubbock, executive director of Gulf South Men, an interdenominational group of Christian men who sponsored the Iron Sharpens Iron conference March 29 at Istrouma Baptist Church.

“Lives were changed,” Lubbock said. “In fact, one man, who was recently released from prison, said that what he received at the conference will help him maintain a positive, godly lifestyle.”

Istrouma’s senior pastor , the Rev. Jeff Ginn, welcomed the men who came from different churches across the Baton Rouge area and as well as some from Texas and Mississippi.

“We come together to sharpen one another as iron does sharpen iron,” Ginn said to the interracial group. “I pray that we will harness ourselves together to extend your kingdom to work together for the truth.”

Iron Sharpens Iron is a national Christian men’s group based on the Scripture Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” The Baton Rouge conference was one of 64 being held across the nation this year.

Jonathan Evans, chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys and former NFL and Baylor University fullback, kicked it off by telling how God guides his life and how men today, and like the Bible’s Abraham, have to step out in faith regardless of their circumstances.

“We’re living in a culture where men are not experiencing their greatness,” Evans declared. “You have been chosen for greatness by none other than your creator. That is why you are here today.”

But men cannot fulfill their spiritual greatness, he said, unless, like athletes, they follow the playbook, in this case, the Bible. And the greatness of the team name supersedes the individual’s name on 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 16 sessions covering topics like being a godly father and husband, building character, responsible financial planning and building a local church men’s ministry.

Rowdy Scott Sr. brought his 13-year-old son and several other teens from King Solomon Baptist Church, in Lutcher.

“We’re trying to make a difference in the lives of these young men,” Scott said. “If we can change one then they can change each other.”

“I learned that God gave us certain traits in his image and that is how we learn certain things the way we do,” said his son, Rowdy Scott Jr.

Dontre Kirklin, 15, and his Lutcher friends participated in a group exercise hosted by Earl J. LeBlanc of Athletes for Christ. Facing each other in two rows, the young men had to lower a tent pole lying across their fingers to the floor without spilling it.

“I learned that you gotta concentrate on your own task and not let everything else distract you,” Kirklin said, “so I can become a man of God.”

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.”

The Rev. Dr. Ted Roberts, president of Pure Desire Ministries, said he is counseling more than 20 pastors with sex and porn addictions.

Even Christian men, in their own strength, cannot break those carnal strongholds, he said.

He used his service as a Marine pilot in Vietnam to illustrate. Once during a dogfight training flight his jet spiraled out of control. No matter how hard he tried to right it, he said, 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. “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.”