Jun 13, 2019

Taking His Stand



And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.”
But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. ~Acts 2:12-14


It was a great honor to recently have Patrick Morley of the Man in the Mirror on the Men in the Arena Podcast. Not only has his first book of the same title sold millions of copies, his organization has equipped over ten million men since its inception. Our interview focused on his newest book, The Christian Man—one quote standing taller than the rest.

     “When it comes to spiritual growth, I would condense      all the years I’ve spent teaching into this one idea: A Bible, a small group, and serving someone else will solve 90 percent of your problems.”

     This is a powerful statement in light of Pat’s experience and the state of manhood today. Too many men in churches stand alone. They show up late. They leave early. They worship anonymously. They are faceless and nameless in the bleachers of the church they call home.
     This should not be! We all need men to stand with us as we stand to push back the darkness.
     I love what happens next in Acts 2. It’s the Day of Pentecost and Jerusalem is in an uproar. The Apostles are praising God in foreign languages that bystanders understand and people are both amazed and perplexed. God’s Spirit is invading the world, but as expected, verse 13 reveals a counter attack, “But others were mocking.”
     Those “others” were Jewish men, but check this out. I love what Peter does.
     Can you imagine the scene? Thousands are present. Some are praising God in other languages. Others are mocking them just as loudly. Chaos was ensuing. A riot with seconds away as Peter waves down the crowd.
     “But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice.”     Noticed something else. Not only did Peter stand with the eleven but he focused his message at the men first, knowing that once he won the men the rest followed. When a man gets it—everyone wins. Three thousand were saved that day, in part, because one man stood with his brothers against all odds.
     Am I being overly dramatic? Maybe. Am I stating truth? Absolutely. It takes more than one man to charge the gates of hell with a squirt gun! It takes more than one man to change your family, church, and city too. It takes you plus your men on the roof (Mark 2).
     A Christian man should never stand alone in this life because he won’t stand alone in the next. No man should be left behind. Who is standing with you? Are in you active in a men’s small group? Are you engaged on Sunday with the men of your church? If not, please reach out to us. We can help you get plugged in.

Jun 5, 2019

Skubala



What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.                      
~ Philippians 3:8-9 


I have a friend who has an interesting tradition. Every time he harvests a big game animal, pulls his knife out and carves a notch in his old hunting rifle. I thought defacing his rifle after each successful hunt was an interesting habit. But now I understand. 
Men keep score. It’s part of our innate composition. We count wins, and mourn losses. We live in a Participation Trophy culture where everyone gets a prize just for showing up. But this is isn’t reality and it’s far for a man’s core passion to complete, conquer, and to be victorious.
The problem is when a man pursues the wrong trophies. And any trophy that won't cross into eternity is only temporary at best and must be sought with the Holy Spirit’s discernment.
        The greatest trophy of them all is a man’s great pursuit for God (Matthew 6:33). Jeremiah 29:13 states, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” In other words, “IF you seek Me with ALL your heart, I will LET you find me.”
After recalling the notches in the belt (Philippians 3:8-9), Paul adds that none of it matters. It’s worthless compared to his relationship with Christ. No financial portfolio, material possession, or worldly accomplishment compares to having a relationship with Christ. Nothing compares to Him for the man who is pursuing the right trophy in right order. 
Paul called these accomplishments “rubbish”, skubala in the Greek. Skubala is the Greek word for human feces or dog dung. You can imagine the true meaning of the word. Paul didn’t revel in his wins, but focused all his energy on the greatest trophy of all—pursuing Jesus Christ. 
The apex of manhood is relentless pursuit of Jesus Christ.
Everything else isn’t worth a pot to skubala in! Everything else is crap. Pursue that which is worth more than anything. Hunt for a deep relationship with God. 
Everything else is skubala

May 29, 2019

In Your Face


But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
         
~ 1 Samuel 16:7 

As you may know, The Cabinet of the United States is part of the executive branch of the United States. The Cabinet's primary role is to serve as an advisory body to the President of the United States. I once read a story about when Abraham Lincoln was considering men for his Cabinet. One man immediately rose to the top of the list, but Lincoln, also known as the ugliest president to ever hold office, rejected him, reasoning, “I don’t like his face.”
         His advisor responded, “How can you say that? A man can’t be responsible for the face he was born with.”
         Lincoln said, “After forty years, every man is responsible for his face.”
         So Lincoln rejected him because he didn’t like his countenance. Lincoln knew something we should also take note of—the face reflects the heart.
        1 Samuel 16 records the anointing of young David as king over Israel by the prophet Samuel. Samuel thought God would choose a king of similar stature to Saul, who was the tallest and most handsome man “among the sons of Israel” (1 Samuel 9:2).
         Samuel examined the outward appearance with each of the seven sons of Jesse, but God rejected them all, except Jesse’s youngest son, David.
         Why does God choose some men and seemingly reject others? Is God random? Is it coincidence? Or is something more at stake?
         2 Chronicles 16:9 offers one possibility; “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”
         One method God uses to select or reject is an examination of the heart. God sees what no one else sees, and knows what no one else knows.
         We, like Lincoln, might see a glimpse of the heart based on one’s countenance, but only God knows the heart. Do you want to change your life, start with your heart? Your words and actions are simply an overflow of the heart (Matthew 12:34-36)
         It was also King David who wrote, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts” (Psalm 139:23). What’s in your heart? What does God see when He searches yours?




May 22, 2019

Number One Husband



So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” ~Malachi 2:15b-17


Here’s an embarrassing story of when the wife of an Arena Man sent her husband’s contact info. Saving it to my phone, I noticed something disturbing that demanded immediate attention. I accidentally saved his contact info just as his wife had it in her phone, which to my horror was “#1 Husband”! Though impressive for his part, I figured it wouldn’t look good in my Contact List so I immediately changed it. 
            Laughing, I quickly warned his wife about sending out her “#1 Husband’s” contact info to others. She rapidly texted me, saying that my wife Shanna is saved in her contacts as the “Babe of Babes”!
            That’s right! My wife is the “Babe of Babes”!
            I shared my recent contact-saving experience with Dale Collver, our Operations Manager, who immediately got an alarmed look on his face. He went on to confess that he needed to change his contact information for me. A while back Shanna sent him my contact information, and holding out his phone it got a little awkward as I read, “Hunk of Hunks”! 
            I’m pretty sure there was a Man Card violation in there somewhere—for that, I apologize! I’m laughing as I type this!
            I love Malachi’s warning for husbands to, “Guard yourselves in spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.”
            Marriages go through seasons—some are rockier than others. It’s during the tough times that we must guard ourselves and continue to love our wives well. Build guardrails around your bride. Build them high.
            Like my “Number One Husband” friend Jake, make a decisive choice to love your wife especially during seasons of drought. Love is action over attitude. Love is sacrifice over sex. Love is humility over heartbreak. Love is covenant over contract.
            Choose her every time. Choose the “wife of your youth.”She deserves it. Scripture demands it. She should know that she’s your most important person on the planet. Then—maybe—you’ll be her Number One Husband.