Archives For help for men

You Ain’t Done

April 15, 2016 — Leave a comment

ironclad

Your life is an amazing story. If somewhere along the way a great writer had been there to capture your finest moments or most bitter failures people would be captivated by it. Somebody, probably a lot of somebodies, would relate to what you went through, how you overcame, how you fell and got back up or how you have fallen and are trying to get back up right now.  You might not always appreciate it, you may not always feel like it, but you are awesome and what you do every day means something.

The greatest heroes of scripture were severely flawed yet went on to inspire and help change the lives of untold millions. In many cases it is their accomplishments despite their flaws that inspires us today. None of them, while in the midst of their challenges, had an idea of the impact they would have on so many people to come after them. Peter, a rough and tumble fisherman with a propensity for rash behavior. David, a shepherd, warrior and king exhibited the best and worst in all of us. Abraham, at times full of fear yet the father of our faith. All like us.

Their story is written yet the ripple effect continues on. As they lived their lives a great author documented their successes, their failures, the falling down and the getting up. That same great author documents our lives and our stories will be told for eternity. We battle in an arena as a great cloud of witnesses looks on, cheering our victories, sharing our defeats and anxiously awaiting our next move. We are clothed in armor and tested by the enemy. What we see as daily life, temptation, leading our families, sharing God’s love, extending forgiveness, receiving His grace when we fail, are seen as great victories from the heavens. Your story, YOU and what you do, is documented and will be revisited.

Maybe today there will be a pivotal moment that changes the course of yours, or someone else’s, life.  Maybe your mission in life is to lead your family and model for your children what it looks like to be a Christian man, full of flaws and imperfections but NOT GIVING UP. Maybe the most important thing you ever do will be to break a generational curse that has been in your family for years, abuse, neglect or an attitude of anger. Maybe you are the first man in your family to take his walk with the Lord seriously. Your daily actions will impact generations to come.

We, you and I, are Kings & Priests. We have the power to encourage one another, to lift one another up through prayer, a word of encouragement or just pitching in, getting our hands dirty and helping someone out.  That very act, by a faithful servant, was the catalyst that brought me back from the edge. (Thank you Mike.) We do not know the powerful impact our actions may have that may help change someone’s life forever, maybe change their family for generations to come.

Recently a friend from the Navy I hadn’t seen in 25 years stopped in for an overnight visit. He told me that if it wasn’t for my guidance and leadership back then he would not be where he is today. Despite me being a young chucklehead, what I invested into him, seemingly inconsequential at the time, would produce long term results. I am humbled. (Thank you Chris.)

My life is full of men who invested in me, my Dad, Tim Siddle, Jack Himschoot, Mike Leonard, Sherman Hare, Jamie Stilson and many more including my younger brother, Shannon. None of these men waited until they had their act together to invest in or encourage me. At the time, they had no idea that years later I would mention them in these terms. In the course of their everyday lives they chose to invest in or encourage me despite the “Prone to wander” tattoo I should have across my forehead.  Those men share in the legacy that, through God, I am creating in my family; the same way that I share in my friend Chris’ legacy that he is creating in his family.

Jesus is our example, He did something amazing for us before we knew Him. If we will let His love shine through us, by the way we live our lives, the words we say and the things we do, our ripple effect can go on for generations in our families, and others, for His glory. Please join me and ask God for the eyes to see and ears to hear where He needs us and then take action. Lend a hand, get involved, go out of your way to encourage someone, invite someone to church. The little things we do can have long term impact.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Who Told You That?

December 2, 2014 — Leave a comment

Doubting Man

Who Told You That?

When our kids are young we are always careful about what we expose them to, who they hang out with, what they watch. If they say something out of line we have all said many times, “Where did you hear that?” We want to know.

Sometimes one of the kids will utter some bit of nonsense like, “Vampires are real” and I’ll ask them, “Who told you that?” We want to know where that information came from and we want to set the record straight. I’m sure you can all relate.

We are concerned with where our children are getting their information. When we allow our kids to spend time with other people we trust those people aren’t going to be filling their heads with garbage. I personally, and I’m sure you can relate, am careful about who & what I expose my kids to.  They don’t need to know everything that goes on in the world.

In Genesis 3 we read the account of satan deceiving Eve, she gives the fruit to Adam, they have disobeyed God, “…their eyes were opened…” and they knew sin.

8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? (Or “Who told you that?”)

Inherent in God’s question to Adam are other questions, “When He asks, “Who told you that?” He is also saying, “Did I tell you that?” Did whoever told you that have your best interest in mind, did they breathe your very life into you?

When God comes walking back into the garden He asks a couple of things, both of which He already knows the answer to;

  1. Where are you?
  2. Who told you that…?

The Bible gives us no indication how long Adam and Eve had been in the garden up to this point but we do know this; God created them both, he had a relationship with them and fellowshipped with them, apparently face to face or quite closely.  YET, despite the fact that they had a loving Father who had their very best interest in mind and gave them excellent advice they chose to take the advice or instruction of another.  I don’t know for sure how long Adam and Eve were in the garden but based on their behavior, I think they were teenagers.

I have considered many times that there is no need to be hard on Adam and Eve, if the world had been perfect up until I was in the garden I surely would have messed it up for the rest of you.

I want to take a moment and consider God’s question to Adam, “Who told you that?”

They had been walking around exactly the way God made them, exactly the way that God intended them to be when someone else came in and someone came in and ruined it…

Gen 3

3 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Good & Evil. Do you think Adam and Eve knew good already? What was the purpose of eating the fruit?

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, (physically appealing) and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.

Wise? Is this what makes us wise? Knowing good and evil?

Proverbs 9:10 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  It doesn’t say, “The knowledge of what’s evil is the beginning of wisdom and understanding comes from knowing about all the evil that goes on in the world.”

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”

The fruit of that tree did not make her wise, it showed her what evil was, that’s what she wanted.

We don’t need to spend our time listening to what satan has to say, to keep track of his exploits and to make sure they don’t come near our house.  “Oh but I gotta know what’s going on” or you might say, “My knowledge of good isn’t enough, I need to know about evil too.”  Just like Eve said.

Here’s what Paul has to say in his letter to the church at Phillipi,

Philippians 4

8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthymeditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

God does not tell us to learn everything we can about what’s evil, to study it and understand it; He says, “…meditate on these things.”

I’m not saying there’s no such thing as Ebola or crime or distress,  I’m saying that spending 2 hours of your day listening to reports about it is not only a waste of time but it is the very thing, the very thing that God was trying to protect His children from, the knowledge of evil, focusing on what the enemy  is doing or what he has to say.

Who told us that focusing on the evil in the world was ok? God says, “Who told you that?”

Adam and Eve were walking around in the garden naked and happy. Their desire to be like God, specifically, to know about evil, changed everything. After they disobeyed God they knew what evil was.

What has the enemy been whispering in your ear?

I am not saying that there isn’t evil, sickness and crime. I’m saying that He who is in us is GREATER than He who is in the world!! We need to shift our focus…focus “…on whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 …….. and the God of peace will be with you.”

“The God of peace will be with you…IF…You meditate one these things” That’s a promise from the Bible.

A Wandering Eye

October 25, 2014 — 2 Comments

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Right after I got saved, a gentleman in his mid-seventies helped me put my wandering eye into perspective. I asked him, “How old do you have to be before a beautiful woman no longer catches your eye?” He said, “You’ll have to ask somebody older than me.”

I have to admit that his response was not a comfort to me. “So you’re saying that this could go on for a while?”  Apparently God made men to appreciate a well put together woman.  Well then, why did Jesus say, “… anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Jesus understands how our minds work.  In James chapter 1 we see that, “…each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”  The key point here is, “carried away by his own lust.” If we see a woman and then take a moment or two to ponder & further appreciate the details of her specific structure, perhaps considering the possibilities, we have moved into sin.

Alternatively, if we “…take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ”  (2Cor10:5), right up front, immediately, we can avoid this.  I am not claiming this is easy, especially as we are initially training ourselves, perhaps even after years of training. It is, however, vital.

We have plenty of opportunities to either accept or reject thoughts that are presented to us. The battleground is in the mind, the weapons are spiritual and the enemy is not our flesh but satan and his host of chuckleheads.

There is no shortage of Christian men who have indulged in their fantasies and those fantasies have led to their destruction.  Make no mistake, the place to handle this issue is immediately, as the thought springs up. Ending up in bed with someone you shouldn’t be with isn’t the result of a bad decision, it is the result of many bad decisions. Those decisions started as a thought, pondered on, entertained, mulled over, revisited and finally acted on.

Consider King David, he was already on a slippery slope when he gazed upon a bathing Bathsheba. David was home when he should have been out with his men, he had multiple wives in direct violation of God’s law and he had concubines . At this point in his life David was obviously given to self-indulgence.  Bathsheba wasn’t his ruin, all the other things he had allowed in his life up to that point led to his ruin. When he considered Bathsheba he had already established a pattern of indulgence in his life. Bathsheba was the natural progression.

I’ve heard it said, “Men either struggle with lust or lie about struggling with lust.” I don’t know if that’s true but I know that every man I have spoken to about the subject has had challenges. Here’s the good news, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” “All things are possible with God” “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (2Cor10:4), “…we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us…”(Rom8:37) and “God stands over His word to perform it.” (Jer1:12). How about this, ““My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2Cor12:9).  Those are some promises from God that we should continually speak over our lives.

Here are just a few practical things we can do to keep our walk where it needs to be.

  1. Immerse ourselves in His word. Our minds need to be cleansed, renewed, continually. Romans 12:2 says, “…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. Our mind is renewed by the word of God. Attending church is a given. Additionally, use your commute to and/or from work to listen to teaching CD’s. I PROMISE you it will make a difference in your life.
  2. Keep a short account with God. Our first inclination may not be to run to God when we sin but it should be. “What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” God already knows, you might as well get before Him and make it right and move forward. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John1:9). God is not sick and tired of hearing you repent even though you may be sick and tired of having to repent. Your previous sin is as far from you as the east is from the west if you brought it to Him. It doesn’t accumulate, it is GONE. He made provision for your sin and He said, “My grace is sufficient for you and my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Jesus took that sin on Himself and nailed it to a cross. DONE.
  3. Get in relationship with another man, or men, and support one another. You are not alone in your temptations or your propensities. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man…” (1Cor10:13) Satan wants you to feel alone and offers the stinking wet blanket of Shame to put on. Shame is a cheap imitation of Godly conviction that brings us to repentance and then goes away.

Build a strong relationship with another Godly man and “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (Jam1:16) BAM! Get ahold of that! How about this, “Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.” And, “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecc4) I could go on, “As iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another.” (Pro27:17)

God has given us an amazing gift, woman. He has told us how to appreciate her (Eph5:25), He made us to connect in so many wonderful ways, He has given us a license to do so and He commands that we do it within the bounds of marriage. Jesus Himself was tempted in every way that we are and fully understands our temptations. He took our sins upon Him and through Him we have strength to overcome as well as His grace and forgiveness when we fail. Don’t let satan kick your ass. He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. Paul said, “…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phi3:13,14). “Forgetting what is behind…” means getting up after you fall down, recommit and “straining toward what is ahead…” PRESS ON BROTHERS! Can I get an “Amen!”?

Does God Need You?

Recently I was wondering if God needs me. It seems silly now that I am putting it into words. He is GOD, He can make anything happen that He wants to happen and, me, I can’t get through the day without breaking something.

As I was pondering the issue my head was flooded with images of my wife and kids. I want them to know what a loving father is. I want them to see how a man should treat his wife and lead his family so it might be natural behavior for them later. I hope I can model how a man should walk with the Lord in his daily life.  God can use me to do all of those things but it is impossible for me to do it without Him.

God uses people to accomplish His mission. Obviously the same creator that made the “heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them” could raise our children without us but that is not His way. His plan is that we are involved, we raise our children with purpose and under His instruction. Even if our children do not live under our roofs we have the same responsibility.

God could also bypass us and use some other means of calling our friends and co-workers into the kingdom. Amazingly, His plan involves us walking out our Christian lives in front of them, loving them and sharing our faith with them. His end of the deal is that He will prepare their hearts to receive the message. Even as we ourselves are learning to deal with the issues of our own flesh, He wants to use us to bring the His message of love to others.

Consider the people in your life, your family and the people you see regularly. These people make up your “oikos”. Oikos is an ancient Greek word that generally means “household”. Wikipedia says the modern application means people that regularly, “…share some sort of social interaction, be it through conversation or simple relation…”

These are the people who are potentially within our sphere of influence. God doesn’t need us to reach our oikos but He has called us to and we are each uniquely placed and gifted to have an impact within that group.

If each one of us would begin to pray for people in our oikos God will create opportunities for us to share our faith with them or maybe just invite them to church. If those people know you are a Christian, they are already watching you. They are wondering what is up with you and most of them have no idea exactly what you believe and why you believe it.  There are people you already know that are curious about your faith but probably would never ask you about it.

I have invited people to church and many have not come, some have. Most of the people I have shared my faith with didn’t immediately come to Christ, a few eventually did. Recently a former coworker sent me an email thanking me for telling him about Jesus almost 20 years ago. It didn’t immediately stick but it was a seed that grew. I know I need to do a better job of telling people about God’s amazing grace, inviting people to come to church and being more faithful with the opportunities I’m given. God doesn’t need me to do that but I feel the need to express my love for Him in that way. Ironically, I can’t even show my love for Him without His help. I need Him.

Divorced and Christian.

Divorce hurts. Almost everyone reading this has been affected by divorce.  You know the pain, it fades but can leave a raw nerve that heals slowly. Although God hates divorce He loves people and He is in the healing business.

The church is not immune from divorce. About 50% of 1st marriages in the US end in divorce but Focus on the Family reports that couples who “…generally take their faith seriously…”, (that means work at it) have about a 38% divorce rate.  I have seen figures that say the divorce rate is the same or higher inside the church as outside but there is a difference between people who call themselves Christians and people who take their faith seriously. (Read the article)

My parents divorced after 18 years and I went through divorce myself after 9 years of marriage. I have since remarried, am working on my 19th year of marriage and incredibly blessed with a great wife who I have 4 children with. However, the years I lost with my first two sons are gone. While our relationship today is very good we went through some difficult times as I struggled with my responsibilities to my sons vs my responsibilities to my new, growing family.

I know the pain of seeing my sons under another man’s care. Seeing my sons living in a situation that I didn’t approve of broke my heart. Hearing about them being spanked by their mother’s boyfriend enraged me. Listening to them call me out on my own poor decisions was humbling, convicting and heart breaking.

Many of you know what it is like to have your young children living under a roof besides your own. You know the difficulty trying to parent children who live under two sets of rules. You live with the split time on holidays and the animosity as you or her explore new relationships. The lingering hurt feelings often make it difficult to sort out issues that seem like they should be more easily managed. Divorce sucks and, like other scenarios, we seldom see the end results in the beginning of the process.

We all make mistakes in our lives but it is the mistakes that hurt other people, especially our kids, which hurt the worst. The good news is that God’s mercies are new every day and every moment of our lives is a new chance to start over. I love the saying, “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”  The moment we turn to God asking for help, the process of healing and restoration starts. The visible results of that process, especially in other people, often take longer than we think they should.

I have a friend who continuously wishes his ex-wife would act more reasonably. His sentiments are no doubt shared by most men and women in similar situations. My feedback to him is always the same, “Stop worrying about her, focus on what you need to do.” Taking care of what we need to do, pressing into God, deepening that relationship, leading by example and “taking care of the plank in our own eye before worrying about the speck” in someone else’s is the only way we can move forward.

Regardless of our current circumstances, as we commit to developing our relationship with God, we can live out a model for our children to emulate. If, by our actions, we can show them a life worth living maybe they don’t have to make some of the same mistakes we made. I don’t want my children to be spared the challenges that result in growth but I pray that each of them avoids the pain of divorce.  I am committed to living for Him and showing my children the beauty of a life and a marriage that is Christ centered. Please God, help me walk that out.

Brothers

When I first got saved I had a lot of deep questions like, “Who am I going to hang out with?” It was quickly apparent that most of my friends weren’t immediately interested in the same commitment I had just made and I was sure the church was not filled with men I’d be able to relate to.

Turns out the church is filled with men who are also working on developing a closer relationship with God. Men working through their own issues but heading in one direction.  Like any group there are naturally people we are more inclined to gravitate toward on a personal level. Regardless of how I might feel about the personalities of other men in church, I do share something with most of them; we are committed to developing a closer, biblical, relationship with God. This is like the trump card that covers everything else.

My faith is in Christ, not my friends but I need my close friends to help me walk out my faith.  I appreciate their encouragement. I appreciate that they check in with me through the week and see how I am. I am grateful that there is someone out there taking my name to the God in prayer. I am grateful that some ask me the hard questions and I am committed to being honest with them. I am not friends with every man in my church. However, I could develop a close relationship with any man in my church that has a sincere desire to follow Christ. Not only that, but I need those kind of friendships and so does he.

When we find ourselves, alone, isolated and answering to no one, we are in danger. This is another example of God’s way being different than man’s way. The world often portrays the self-made, pull yourself up the bootstraps man as the ultimate man; going it alone and ultimately alone and victorious on a mountaintop. The heroes of the Bible are humble, rely on God’s strength, God’s wisdom and they have strong relationships with other godly men.

In Mark 6 Jesus sends out the 12 in pairs of two. In Luke 10 Jesus sends out 72 men in pairs. The apostles often traveled in pairs and we see them relying on one another throughout the New Testament. Moses had Aaron. When David was home alone, not surrounded by other men, he didn’t do so well.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” James tells us, “…confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Proverbs is full of advice about Godly friendships including, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” 27:17, “A righteous man is cautious in friendship” 12:26, and “A friend loves at all times…”17:17.

There are also many cautions about who we are friends with and who we spend our time around. While Jesus is commonly known as a “friend of sinners” it is because he knew they needed salvation. He said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick.”

One of my pastors was recently explaining how our church is a welcoming, diverse place. To look around our congregation you would see the homeless, the affluent and everyone in between. The intent is that the church is open to those seeking and welcomes people who are looking for answers. We welcome the hurt and broken who are looking for something and they don’t even know what it is except relief from their pain and confusion. The answer is the peace, love and warm embrace of a loving Father. Jesus meets seeking people with love in their time of need and then calls them into relationship and discipleship. Our relationships should reflect the same thing.

Jesus spent considerable time alone with God. He invested Himself in relationships with people that were trying to grow. He had little time for the religious, self-righteous, condescending “haters” of the day. He was open to all but loved them too much to leave them as He found them.  He was the influencer, not the influenced. He was the salt, He seasoned His surroundings and encourages us in the same endeavor.

Christ is our model in all things and His relationships are no exception.  Men, to grow in our faith, lead our families and finish this race strong we must have close relationships with a few Godly men. The place to find those men is in church. To instigate and develop those relationships may require leaving our comfort zone and it will require time and effort. The cost of not developing these relationships is stagnancy or failure. The benefits are strong relationships with true brothers.

 

That Guy Over There Paid For It

“If you are driving down the street and notice a sexy woman, that is not sin. If you circle the block to get another look at her it is.” A mature Christian man shared this with me 20 years ago and helped me to understand what sin is.

There is a lot of temptation out there, being exposed to it does not constitute sin.  When we ponder it, mull it over, fantasize about it and engage in it we have crossed the line. This can apply to sexual temptation or the desire to lob hand grenades at drivers on the freeway.

We have many chances to consider such things. The battlefield is in the mind first. I have often had imaginary arguments in my mind as I consider how I will tell someone off. I actually create a problem that may not even be there or I might feed a tiny thing and make it giant. This could be the enemy offering me a spirit of offence, or lust or fear. I can choose not to accept or I can snatch it up and run with it, feed it, obsess over it, run through it in my mind. It becomes like Gollum’s “precious” thing.

In Matthew 5:28 Jesus said, “…anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Now that’s harsh. It also then stands to reason that if I’ve given my boss a mighty Chuck Norris blow to the solar plexus (in my mind) then I’ve crossed the line. Seriously? How can anyone live up to those standards?

None of us can live up to those standards, this is where Jesus comes in. To be perfectly holy is not within us. If we are saved, we are a new man but we still live in the flesh. The apostle Paul said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”(Romans 7:15) He further explains, “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. That a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Spend a few minutes with Romans 7:7-25)

This is not your average knucklehead struggling with this, Paul wrote most of the New Testament. He is a rock star of the Bible. Elsewhere Paul asked God to remove a problem he was struggling with; God said no, “My grace is sufficient.”

Brothers, if you are already a Christian, there is no better news than this. He knows we are not perfect and our sin has been paid for. “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” (Romans 6:1,2) That would not reflect being a man after God’s own heart. God knows our motivation, our heart. He may be the only one who this matters to, but there is no one more important.

The cross was God’s grace to us and it is sufficient. When Jesus died on the cross all our sin was in the future, yet it was all covered. Our sin, all of it, is covered by the blood. If we have accepted Christ we are in right standing with God, justified, righteous, He and we are good. Thank you Jesus. As we move forward our part is to confess our sin and keep our eyes on Him, keep our focus in the right place, “abide in the vine”.  As we falter, and we do, confess, repent, move forward. Repeat as necessary.  Don’t carry the weight. Don’t beat yourself up. Confess, repent, move forward. Provision has been made for our infinite shortcomings. That’s good news.

A Man Among Men

A month ago my close friend, my father in law, passed away as I knelt next to him telling him I loved him and praying for him. His wife of 45 years, Paula, was right there confessing her love for her husband, praying and proclaiming her trust in Jesus. Amidst the chaos, her repeated confession of , “We trust you Jesus” was one of the greatest acts of faith I have ever seen.  As heart wrenching as that was, and is still, I will be forever grateful that I could be there at that moment.

Jack Himschoot was a man among men. When I asked him for his daughter’s hand in marriage he told me that if I ever laid a hand on her he might not be able to whip me but he was coming with a gun. He meant it. He was the very definition of a “Florida Cracker”, he often wore an 18 inch sheathed knife to church, ran an airboat, could build a swamp buggy and handle a bullwhip a gun and a backhoe. He taught me how to operate an airboat, catch, clean and gig fish and showed me how to catch gators. He showed about any kid that he ever came in contact with how to make a bullwhip, make a bow and arrow out of palm leaves and shoot a potato gun.

Most of all Jack was a Christian. I was honored to be able to speak at his memorial service and as a tribute to him, wanted to share those sentiments here:

Today I have three great passions in my life and Jack was instrumental in the development of each of them. 

The # 3 thing on that list, is Fishing. I didn’t grow up fishing and didn’t care anything about it. About 15 years ago Jack came to visit us in Tennessee where we lived on a small, river. When he got there he went straight to WalMart and bought a fishing pole. He and I roamed the banks of the Harpeth River, him fishing, me watching with absolutely no interest in actually fishing myself. When he went back to Florida he left that pole in my garage and that fishing pole sat there for several months.  One day I blew the dust off that thing and took it down to the river. I cast it out and immediately got into some Small Mouth Bass and the hook was firmly set in me. I was radically addicted. He later taught me to catch Redfish, drive an airboat and was the motivating factor in pursuing my Captain’s License and starting a charter business.  

As a result of Jack’s influence my Dad and my brother are both now radically addicted to fishing although, of course, I catch more and bigger fish than they do. We continue Jack’s fishing evangelism and are working on passing that passion on to my children. Every minute I have spent enjoying time on the water, the fellowship of Ben (his son). my own father, brother and children, is because of Jack and I am grateful.  

The #2 great passion in my life is my family. Obviously if it wasn’t for Jack & Paula, there would be no me & Jacquelyn, no Kaitlyn, no Logan Jack Britt, no Cyan and no Jack Vaughn Britt. Yes, we named half of our children after Jack.  

Also, he set a high bar as a husband to Paula that Jacquelyn grew up watching. It isn’t easy living up to that expectation and mostly I fail. I am grateful for Jack and Paula and the family they have enabled me to have and for receiving me into their family. 

The # 1 passion in my life is my relationship with God. As a brand new Christian I watched Jack and his walk with Christ. Jack was a man’s man who loved the Lord and devoted time to nurturing his relationship with God.  

That model, an imperfect, humble man living for Christ, has had a significant impact on my life. The very fact that he was imperfect yet continued to press in and work on his relationship with God is the very thing that speaks the loudest to me. It reassured me that I didn’t have to be perfect to be a Christian. Anyone that knows me well, well knows, how flawed I am.  Jack helped me realize that accepting God’s love and asking Jesus to come into my life wasn’t about me being some holier than thou Christian…….it was just about receiving God love, spending time developing my own relationship with God. A natural byproduct of developing my relationship with God is that I am more committed to my family, and those people around me, and less interested, or becoming less interested in chasing after the things that I want, or think I want.

Jack lived his life that way. He walked that example out in front us. He was imperfect but he loved God with his whole heart and he loved those around him as he loved himself. He gave of himself, probably to everyone here and certainly, to many more who are not here.    

Moving forward, I feel challenged. Pastor Tommy was sharing yesterday, he said its not about trying harder, its about drawing a line in the sand, about going all in and being committed to what’s important. Jack Himschoot, imperfect and flawed, was committed to what’s important. Today, in front of my family, my Pastor and men in here that are important to me, I commit to follow Jack as he followed Christ and commit myself to what’s important. I challenge these people to hold me accountable.  

I ask all of you here today to consider Jacks’ example. Consider what is truly important. Reflect on what these men said here today and consider what it means to you personally. This isn’t about religion…or the church…or churchy things. Its about us, its about our relationship with who created us and our relationship with each other. I pray… that moving forward from …right now …we would all consider those things.

My father in law had a great impact on my life and continues to do so. Men, we will impact other people’s lives, it is up to us how. Will our lives be a benefit to those around us or will our example lead others to loss and destruction. It is up to us and the time to get a hold of that is right now. If we will pattern our lives after Christ’s life and develop a relationship with Him we will impact our families and those around us for generations. If we stumble through life relying on our own plan we are rolling the dice and the cost of losing is astronomical.

Jesus referred to himself  as “The Son of Man” dozens of times. He is the very definition of “Man”. Do you believe Him or do you believe some other model of manhood that Hollywood has shown you?

 

How I Fixed My Wife

There are some things that God reveals in His word that don’t make sense to me at first. Turning the other cheek is an example. Another example is reaping and sowing. We can commonly relate this to farming and I understand the principle there. However, it is a principle that applies to other areas. Giving is an example. Another example is our wives.

Ephesians 5:25-28 tells us to love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.  After we do that we will receive her back to us as Christ will receive his perfect bride.

  1. Give yourselves up for her. Sacrifice.
  2. Receive her back to you, perfected.

When I first heard this it was like a light bulb came on. “Sounds great!” Turns out,  actually sacrificing for my wife was harder than I thought. As a matter of fact, it was about 10 years from the day the light bulb came on until I finally got serious about it. It was easier for me to justify my own behavior than sacrifice or, “give myself up” for my wife.

Staying in the comfortable rut of our relationships can seem like the path of least resistance. We gradually put up with more and more until one day we look at where we are and wonder how we got here. It seems like there’s no way we can fix the mess we are in and divorce is the only answer. I’ve been through divorce and it sucks. No mas.

Sacrifice hurts. If it doesn’t cost you then it’s not sacrifice. Happily doing things for my wife that I don’t want to do is part of my sacrifice. Not holding it over her head is another part. Forgiving her is a sacrifice. I try to be the one who apologizes first. I have also made it a point to understand exactly what she wants and I try to provide that. (For this, I strongly recommend the book The 5 Love Languages). I am committed to sexual purity. Praying for my wife is another sacrifice. I gave up alcohol. I make few decisions without asking her opinion. For me, these are sacrifices and I willingly make them for her.

I fail in my commitments often. I indulge in selfishness and avoid the sacrifices I know I should be making. When I get off track like that I repent and try to get headed back in the right direction.

Really, it’s not about fixing her, it is about fixing me. I’ve got a giant plank in my eye and that thing deserves all of my attention before I worry about the speck in her eye. Fixing her was never the answer, working on me is the answer. God told me what to do, I am working on it and our marriage is better because of it. Big surprise.

You want to fix your wife? Give yourself up, sacrifice. Listen to what God recommends and commit. If you start to do it and it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t seem fair then you are on the right track!

The Church Is Full Of Hypocrites

“Church is full of hypocrites.”  “When I go to church I feel judged.” “The views of the church are outdated.” “Church is boring…” I just read that these are the primary reasons why people don’t go to church. Since I have spent most of my life outside of the church I can relate to these sentiments. However, from my 20 year perspective within the church I also see another side of things.

Church is full of hypocrites. The church is a place of healing, hope and love. My pastor recently made a point that I had never considered before (this happens often). He said few people come to Christ at the top of their game, almost all of us come in need and we bring a mess with us. We come broken and looking for hope. We should find hope and encouragement within the church.

Since the church is full of people it is not perfect. Despite the fact that many of us are actively trying to live a life that is honoring to God every single one of us falls short. The ability to humbly receive His grace and forgiveness and move forward is a sign of a maturing Christian. The willingness to reach out to love others, despite of, or because of, our inherent weakness is the true measure of Christ within us. We are hypocrites if we deny our weakness while casting stones at others for theirs. This is not a reflection of God’s love.

When I go to church I feel judged. God has an amazing plan for each of our lives. It is a plan of prosperity and fulfillment. Like an athlete in training, there are things we can do to help us along that path and there are things we can do that are detrimental to that path. One of the ways we know what might not be beneficial for us is the conviction we feel about that thing when confronted with it.

God uses the feeling of conviction to show us where we are falling short. The sole purpose of conviction is to bring about change for the better. I have sat in church many times feeling convicted about things I have done or left undone. God does not bring shame, He does not beat us down with the weight of our sins. He sent Jesus to bear our sins that we could be free of shame and self-loathing. We may feel conviction, not judgment, as we sit church but that is simply a gentle call to a fuller life by a loving Father.

The views of the church are outdated. Recently a popular celebrity has been condemned for expressing his Biblical views on homosexuality. I have read that those views are outdated and do not take into consideration today’s enlightened thinking and our newfound sensitivity. It can be unpopular to express Biblical viewpoints. People might get offended. This man was fired from his job.

Some may view the word of God as outdated but His word does not change. It does not take into account what is trending today. It is the same yesterday today and forever.  It is absolute and it is relevant today.

We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. We do so daily, all of us. God does not call us to sit in judgment of the world. He calls us to be faithful, to love others as we love ourselves, to deal with the plank in our own eye before we concern ourselves with the splinter in our brother’s. While we were ALL sinners Christ died for us and He calls us to love others as He loves us. Love isn’t a feeling, it’s a verb, an action word, something we do.

God’s word is timeless, not subject to trends, it doesn’t go out of style. His message is love and reconciliation. Let’s make sure that when we publically express it we do it in a spirit of love otherwise we use His name in vain.

Church is boring.  Jesus’ church is not boring. If your church is boring you might want to start looking around. Church isn’t about entertainment but any place that the living, vibrant word of God is preached should be full of life. Our church should challenge, teach and help equip us. It should breathe life into our families and our communities.  The church should be helping to radically change lives, feed the hungry and give hope to the hopeless. None of this is boring.

Our worship should be heartfelt and passionate. The scripture is full of encouragement and examples of praising God in our worship. Jesus said the very stones would cry out if His disciples weren’t praising God. David danced with wreckless abandon before the Lord. Psalm 150 extols us to praise Him enthusiastically, praise Him according to HIS greatness. Psalms 95 says, “Make a joyful noise…” None of this sounds boring to me.

There is no doubt that some people’s motivation in praise is to draw attention to themselves. John 4 tells us that God seeks worshippers who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. It may be hard not to judge people’s motives as they worship but, for most of us, every moment we spend worrying about what others are doing during worship is a wasted moment. Worship can be a dynamic interaction with our Father and no one has ever walked away from real interaction with God yawning and bored.

If the church you go to isn’t what you think it should be then you can find another church or help change the climate of the church you are in. Just make sure what you are looking for is Biblical, yes, that means you have to read the Bible to see what is Biblical.

One last thing, don’t give up on church because you have been disappointed in church in the past. That dog won’t hunt. We didn’t give up on women after the first one (or several) didn’t work out. Back in the day I didn’t swear I’d never go to another bar because I didn’t like one I visited. God has something amazing for you and it is in church. What do you think?