(originally posted 4/7/2011)

How Is Your BOB?

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.

Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Greater love has no one than this that he lay his life down for his friends. Jesus, John 15:13

Ten years ago I was playing basketball with a group of men on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at a local recreation center at 0530 in the morning. We would be so excited to play there would be 11-18 of us standing outside the door in line like when you were at the lunchroom in middle school. You see the first 10 got to play a full-court game before would break the group into four-smaller teams and play sideways on the courts–two games. So, in spite of snow, cold, rain or national calamity–we would stand outside that door stretching, talking smack and laughing till they finally let us in. It was great fun and we enjoyed the camaraderie and competition of men before we went to work those days.

Although I loved the basketball, I wanted a deeper level of friendship with some guys. Not just church buddy guys. Not just grab-a-beer-watch-the-game guys. Guys who had my values, my faith, and who were manly men; not religious men.

I wanted two men to whom I could knit my soul. I was very aware of the two verses above and had discovered that life is way more fun when you have a true friend to walk it out with. Someone to share your struggles and joys with. Someone to complain about your favorite sports team too and argue with about politics and not become offended. If you get terrible news–the guys you would go to first; before a pastor or maybe even before family.
How do you decide whom to pick? I picked two guys based on basketball character. If you’ve played the game you know what I mean. When you play basketball there are guys who always call you for the foul–but manage to miss their own. There are whiners and there are guys who missed the NBA draft by about 20 miles–but think they missed it by inches.

I found Bennie Hayes and Rob Cupp by pushing on them (fouling) and seeing how they responded. They didn’t call the foul. They smiled, cataloged it and at the next appropriate opportunity–they got me back. We both smiled–and kept banging around on the court and loving the game. They didn’t hog the ball but rather played the game as teammates. In those moments I determined that these were two men who weren’t prima donnas nor whiners. They took offense, without being offended and gave some back. They impressed me as Warrior types. The type of men who wouldn’t mind an occasional fist fight to solidfy their willingness to bleed for righteousness–or just plan man-dumb reasons as well.

Bennie, Rob and I have been meeting on Wednesday mornings for 10 years. We have protected our schedules from work, from family, from church, from hobbies, from our own tiredness to meet 0600-0900 as a rule. We eat breakfast, laugh, catch up, and make merry. When we started meeting 10 years ago Bennie had one daughter out of the house starting her own business and one in high school with bad driving habits. Rob had no kids and a beautiful wife with whom he explored Colorado each weekend. I had a son who was a first grader. Now Bennie’s daughters are both out the house and thriving, Rob has three small children and I have a 17 year old with bad driving habits. We have grown together. Our hearts and lives are knit together. We started with a book study and it really helped us get to know one another. But since that first book we have started two or three others but never get very far in them before we discard them. We just can’t stand to read another man’s ideas about life and faith and hurt and hope–when we could get the real thing, real-time with the two guys who know me best.

I turned 50 years old in the summer of 2009 and the three of us were on a WAAWG (Weekend Almost Alone with God) together. The wild-hearted, hairy chested men on that Gideon’s experience snuck a birthday cake along and we celebrated together around a campfire with after sugar-high cigars. We snapped the photo above that night in July 2009.

I love my BOB (Band of Brothers) and I cannot implore nor encourage you enough to get your own. You can find a brochure on this website that will assist you in getting one going.

Be your best–PhilBand of Brothers Pt 1

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