Table of Contents EL ge You to Attend FU Why I Want to Challen ers ad Le stors and An Open Letter to Pa
once performed in down. The shame of sins Men, our walls are broken in the body of Christ prime time. Every sinew secret are now exalted in ” like the fiscal cliff, ight of “wicked problems is straining under the we out of wedlock, n of marriage, children bor abortion, the definition ruption, fraud, cor , ity of sexual immoral er nn ma ry eve y, ph gra porno moral crises. We have sness, and scores of other les her fat e, orc div y, ert pov of God for idols. d for a lie, and the glory Go of th tru the ed ng ha exc nds over whether g around wringing His ha But men, God is not sittin and wickedness. God ry lat weight of our ido the der un k sin l wil rld this wo ival, awakening, undwork for a massive rev gro the ing lay w no ht is rig g to the urgent need to hes everywhere are wakin urc Ch . on ati orm ref d an ey’re looking for reliable don’t know what to do. Th disciple men. But many ources. s, best practices, and res answers—proven model gers. But that’s not how lls with a snap of His fin wa our d uil reb ld cou d Go man like Martin Luther, always sends a man—a e God works. Instead, He t of the churches in Europ 40 years, saw 50 percen who in the short span of here. ival like that can happen become Protestant. A rev about it. Men, I’m send YOU to do something to nts wa d d Go y wh s at’ Th tines turn our values an and watch the new Philis a to us led cal s ha not about to sit around her. God d I don’t think you are eit g sin rai w no is d principles inside out, an Go man. church to disciple every powerful vision for every ls. sou n’s me for r ge the wa up legions of men to wa ers who fear nothing ive me one hundred preach As John Wesley said, “G d to know nothing t sin, and are determine but God, hate nothing bu aw whether they be cified, and I care not a str except Christ and Him cru gates of hell and set up such alone will shake the clerg ymen or laymen, you or will you be ” So, let me ask you: Are th. ear on ven hea of m the kingdo now. we need you—and right one of these men? If so, your help, fine tune the We will unveil, and with EL for men’s souls at the FU next phase in the battle do, lan Or in , 03 21 2, March Summit, February 28— can do us of together what none mimsummit.org. Let’s do on our own. les every man, Until every church discip CEO Patrick Morley, Founder/ Man in the Mirror
q First Things First by David Delk. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 q Balancing Your Life Starts With Setting Your Priorities by Brett Clemmer. . . . 4 q Reason #18 To Come To FUEL—Powerful Keynote Speakers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 q Obstacles to Men's Discipleship by David Delk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 q Go and Make Disciples—Meet the New Area Directors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 q Reason #23 To Come To FUEL—Awesome Workshops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
q Equipping Your Men’s Small Group. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 q How to Use This Devotional . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 q Resource Catalog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
q January 2013 Devotions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 q February 2013 Devotions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 q March 2013 Devotions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
In this first issue of 2013, you’ll find articles and devotionals based on the theme of finding balance in your life. For the week of Easter, Brett Clemmer has written devotionals that focus on the impact that the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior has on our lives. We also have included several articles and ads that encourage you to attend FUEL—the 2013 Man in the Mirror Annual Summit in February! Enjoy this issue and have a blessed 2013! Follow the One-Year Bible reading plan by reading the daily Scripture at the end of each devotion. To see the complete reading plan, go to oneyearbibleonline.com. At the end of many of the devotionals you will find an abbreviation for a resource that expands on the devotional material. For more information about the Man in the Mirror Bible Study (MIMBS) go to maninthemirror. org/archives/categories. :MIMBS 1—An Act of Productivity :MIMBS 2—Mentoring Will Change Your Life :MIMBS 3—Who Mentored Paul :MIMBS 4—My Soul Feels Dry :MIMBS 6—Abraham :MIMBS 7—Abundant Life
:MIMBS 8—A Man's Guide to the Bible :ALM 13—Develop a Personal Ministry :ALM 25—Order Your Priorities :ALM 97—Family & the Man in the Mirror Easter Devotionals—Brett Clemmer
Equipping the Man in the Mirror: January/February/March 2013, Vol. 8, No. 1 Publisher: Man in the Mirror, Inc. • CEO: Patrick Morley • Executive Editors: David Delk and Brett Clemmer Publication Manager: Lucy Blair • Art Director: Cathleen Kwas • Writers: Lucy Blair and Ruth Ford Office: 180 Wilshire Blvd., Casselberry, Florida 32707 Phone: 800-929-2536 • Fax: 407-331-7839 • Web site: maninthemirror.org Copyright © 2013 by Patrick Morley and Man in the Mirror, Inc. All rights reserved. Subscription Information: One year—$25. Two years—$43. For reprint requests or bulk subscriptions call 407-472-2100 or send an email to EQMIM@maninthemirror.org and ask for reprint permissions. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. SAll rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. Scripture marked nkjv taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Bring ALL your men on the Journey to Biblical Manhood. Create value and capture momentum with a Man in the Mirror event and built-in follow-up study. SESSION 1
Finding the Purpose Finding Respect and of Your Life Honor at Home SESSION 3
Finding a New Best Friend in Your Wife
Finding a Deeper Personal Relationship with God
Explore true significance, based on what the Bible says about significance—not the culture. Use this event to kick off Challenge One in the Journey: Manhood.
A proven event to reach your men’s hearts. SESSION 1: From Performance to Grace
SESSION 3: From Self-Sufficiency to Faithful Dependence
SESSION 2: From Idols to “Spirit and Truth”
SESSION 4: : Rewired for Biblical Manhood
Christianity is not about behavior modification; it’s about heart transformation. Use this event to kick off Challenge Two in the Journey: The Gospel.
Contact National Ministry Consultant Roddey Roberts at 407-472-2110 or RoddeyRoberts@maninthemirror.org. Subscribe to the Journey at www.maninthemirror.org/JBM.
New Year’s Revolution
by David Delk, President of Man in the Mirror What do you think of when I say “New Year’s”? That’s right, resolutions. The New Year is often a time to reexamine our lives and set new goals and priorities. Sometimes we try to stop doing things that aren’t good for us, and often declare our good intentions— such as exercising more or eating better (or both). It’s great to periodically stop and assess where you are and where you’re headed. But surface changes are useless without deeper change in the heart. As a mentor once told me, “Being comes before doing.” What you are inside will eventually reveal itself in what you do. So as you start this New Year, why not take time to reflect on the fundamentals of your life? If an impartial observer saw how you lived, what would they say you really believed? If you honestly looked at your own heart and life, what would you say are the most important things to you? Perhaps now would be a good time to recalibrate a little bit. Sometimes, major changes need to be made. But often, minor adjustments in the short-term make major impacts in the long-term. Where should you start? The article on establishing priorities on page 4 will help you examine your core beliefs about how you live your life. Many of you reading this are leaders in your church as well. You’ll want to look at the Journey to Biblical Manhood (p.8). We all know how hard it is to disciple men in the local church, yet this is where So as you start this God calls us to do it. The Journey can help you overcome the obstacles to New Year, why not reaching men more effectively and take time to reflect pointing them towards Christ.
on the fundamentals of your life?
A daily devotional life is a vital part of taking care of your own soul. This magazine is designed specifically to help you and your brothers make this a regular habit. In addition, you’ll find a lot of information about FUEL in this issue. I want to personally invite you to join me and leaders from around the country in Orlando at the end of February. You’ll enjoy great teaching, inspired worship, invigorating fellowship, and practical tools you can use right away. And God may use it to change your heart in a deep and powerful way. Establish the right priorities, make an impact in the lives of other men, and grow your own faith intentionally. Those are some great resolutions for every man in 2013. Until every church reaches every man,
Balancing Your Life Starts With Setting Your Priorities
God My first priority is my relationship with God. He loves me, sustains me, came to earth to die for me, defeated sin for me. Proverbs 3:5,6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”
by Brett Clemmer
To have a relationship with God (or anyone), we need to spend time together. I live this out by seeking Him regularly in prayer and devotional times. A big part of my church attendance is receiving the teaching from my pastor that helps me learn more about who God is through Scripture and through worship.
When I was young, my dad often took me on errands on the weekends. We would usually end up at the counter of an ice cream parlor eating hot fudge sundaes where we would talk about various father-son topics. He was very interested in being a great dad and helping me grow into a mature Christian man. On one such trip, when I was probably nine or ten years old, I remember him pulling out one of his ubiquitous 3- by 5-inch cards and putting it in front of me alongside his gold Cross pen. “Son, I want you to write down your priorities on that card in order of priority.” Frankly, my top priority was deciding between fudge ripple and chocolate marshmallow ice cream for my sundae. I don’t remember what I wrote down that day, but the lesson of setting priorities stuck with me. What are the most important things in my life? What are the most important things in yours? A consultant we were working with once said: “People can basically handle about five major priorities in their lives.” Five rings true with me. So, for the Christian man, what are they? And should we all have the same ones? I’m not sure, but I do know this. Everyone lives their lives in a way that shows what is the most important People can basically to them.
handle about five major
You can do it intentionally, making priorities in their lives. choices based on what you are called So, for the Christian to do and be. Or you can live your life unintentionally. Instead of steering your man, what are they? path based on your values and calling, you can just let life happen and the chips fall where they may.
Ecclesiastes is a great picture of what life looks like when a man doesn’t focus on his priorities—or he picks the wrong ones. The result of living your life in an unintentional way, no matter how successful in the world’s eyes, is futility. "I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me . . . Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun" (Ecc. 2:9,11). For me, having priorities gives me a rubric to make choices with my time and resources. So here are my current top five: 44 My relationship with God. 44 My relationship with my wife. 44 Raising my children to know, follow and love God. 44 Working at my job in a way that brings God glory and supports my family. 44 Being a disciple-maker. Or in short: God, Wife, Family, Work, Calling.
I like to hang out with Jesus in groups, too, so I spend time with fellow Christian men and couples. With men especially, I enjoy studying Scripture and figuring out how to live out our faith in everyday life. When I withdraw from or ignore time for prayer, devotions, church and relationships with other Christians, I’m showing that this isn’t really a priority for me. It affects my relationship with God (although, not His relationship with me!). He becomes less of a friend, mentor and person I worship, and instead becomes more of an acquaintance.
Wife As a married man, my next priority is to love my wife. Pat Morley encourages us: “After God and before all others, make your wife your top priority.” My relationship with my wife is not just about time or provision. The Scriptures give us a very specific calling as husbands: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25) The passage goes on to show how Christ loves the church: He “cleanses” her through the word, to present her as “radiant,” “spotless,” “holy and blameless.” So, our first responsibility to our wives to lead them towards Christ. Are you encouraging your wife in her relationship with Christ? Here are some ways to do it: go to church together; join a couple’s small group; pray with and for her regularly; study the Bible together; give her a Christian book she’d like. In addition, I strive to love my wife well. Gary Smalley’s 5 Love Languages (5lovelanguages. com) is a great help in this area. We tend to express love in the way we most like to receive it, rather than the way our spouse likes to receive it. I like “Words of Affirmation.” So I often tell my wife how great she looks or how much I appreciate her. My wife needs “Acts of Service” from me. For her, talk is cheap! If I tell her how much I love her but consistently forget to take the trash to the curb, my voice is just a “clanging cymbal”! Continued on page 58
Reason #18 To Come To Powerful Keynote Speakers
n i a i n r g T g n i Spr Bring your leaders to
No Man Left Behind training this spring.
January Phoenix, AZ Atlanta, GA
March Chicago, IL Baton Rouge, LA
February Kansas City, MO Charleston, SC Orlando, FL
April Montgomery, AL
Questions? Call Ministry Consultant Roddey Roberts at 407-472-2110. To register your team, visit maninthemirror.org and click on “Get Trained.”
Thousands of people come to Orlando in February for the weather, but you need to be here for the 2013 Man in the Mirror Annual Summit! Our prayer is that the Summit will: Renew your heart, with encouragement from fellow leaders engaged in the mission of discipling men; Renew your mind, with workshops and interactions with experts in reaching men and helping them grow; Renew your soul with inspiring worship, powerful keynote speaker focused on leaders like you. We are privileged and blessed to have powerful keynote speakers who are passionate about Men’s Discipleship and are excited to share their passion with you. At the age of 24, Bob Coy left an executive position in the music industry to serve as an associate pastor with Calvary Chapel of Las Vegas. In 1985, Bob and his wife, Diane, sensed God’s call to move to Ft. Lauderdale to begin Calvary Chapel. Calvary Chapel has grown to become one of the largest churches in America, with multiple satellite campuses throughout South Florida. Additionally, Pastor Bob’s teaching ministry, "The Active Word," is broadcast daily across the nation via radio and television. Pastor Bob has become well-known for his unique gift of effectively communicating the Bible in contemporary terms that are relevant, challenging, and engaging. Dr. Tony Evans is one of the country’s most respected leaders in evangelical circles. He is a pastor, best-selling author and frequent speaker at national conferences and seminars. Dr. Evans has served as the senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship for over 35 years, witnessing its growth to over 9,000 congregants. Dr. Evans has authored over 50 books and serves as chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Mavericks. Dr. Tony Evans has been married to Lois for 41 years. They are the proud parents of four and proud grandparents of ten.
For three decades Patrick Morley has been regarded as one of America’s most respected authorities on the unique challenges and opportunities that men face. In 1991, Patrick founded Man in the Mirror which has impacted the lives of 10,000,000 men worldwide, has distributed 9,000,000 books, and last year worked with 30,000 church leaders to more effectively disciple men. “The ministry of Man in the Mirror exists,” says Patrick Morley, “in answer to the prayers of all those wives, mothers, and grandmothers who have for decades been praying for the men in their lives.” Patrick and his wife, Patsy have two married children and four grandchildren. Have you registered for at the Early Bird Rate? Don’t miss it—it ends January 15, 2013! mimsummit.org
Obstacles to Men's Discipleship by David Delk, President, Man in the Mirror
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, perfect will. —Romans 12:2 Every church would love for 100% of their men to become strong disciples. And every church has tried to disciple their men. But many—if not most—churches have found it difficult to sustain or reach more than a small percentage of men. We’ve designed the Journey to Biblical Manhood (JBM) to overcome the obstacles that so many ministries face. JBM consists of 12 Challenges, all flexible to meet your church’s unique needs. It’s not a curriculum per se, but a process that can be customized to any church or denomination. Obstacle: “Men’s Ministry” is too limited. The most effective men’s ministries may reach 30% to 40% of the men of the church. If discipling men is so strategic and important, why would we use a methodology that we know will leave behind 60% to 70% of the men? Instead, JBM incorporates the “all-inclusive” approach, where every man in the church is a part of your ministry to men. For every Challenge in the Journey, we provide ways to get more guys into small groups, ways to engage men on the fringe through individual study and one-on-one discipleship, and ideas for getting men into relationships through service projects, fun outings, and more. You’ll set church-wide vision for your men with the use of Faith & Life Objectives, assess all your men before and after each Challenge, and make clear that EVERY man is on this Journey together. Obstacle: Churches are not one-sizefits-all. We know that every church is different. No one knows your men better than you do. That’s why we’ve built in flexibility where it matters. We provide guidelines and recommendations, but you’re in control. You can choose the duration of each Challenge, the curriculum, the goals for your men, the type of kick-off event, and more. However, if you find yourself thinking, I’m busy. Just tell me what to do, we offer that, too! The “Run the Play” option for the Challenge gives you
a detailed checklist that you can just follow. If you’d like more flexibility, use the “Call an Audible” option, which gives you specific options for each step. If you’re not looking to add a lot to your ministry plans, you can also use what you’re already doing as part of JBM to maximize the effectiveness of your efforts. Obstacle: The rollercoaster of event-driven ministry isn’t working. If you find your ministry alternating between peaks and valleys, you might be riding the proverbial rollercoaster of event-driven ministry. Guys come to a big annual event, create a lot of excitement, and then things gradually fade away. Then you gear up to do it all again next year. This gets old fast. The “engine” driving JBM is the process of creating value, capturing the momentum, and then sustaining change. Every Challenge follows this process. We don’t want you doing anything in ministry without providing a credible next step for a man to take in his spiritual growth. Events are used in the Journey as part of a wider strategy to disciple men. Obstacle: Our leaders are busy and burning out. We know leaders are busy. No one person should try to execute JBM by himself; it’s designed to be implemented by a team. We’ll show you how to recruit and develop new leaders for a Challenge, give other guys a chance to take a break as needed, and raise up new allies in your vision to disciple the men of the church. We provide detailed instructions, timelines, checklists, and more so that you don’t have to waste time focusing on administration instead of ministry. Obstacle: We don’t have much of a budget for ministry to men. We understand that churches have different budgets. That’s why we’ve made JBM as affordable as possible. The annual subscription cost is minimal, based on church size, and there’s even a free option available for churches with very limited resources. Within each Challenge, the cost is up to you—you choose the resources and events so you’re in charge of your expenses. We offer several free ways to impact your men, too, including online Bible Studies, articles, and more. Obstacle: Other ministries in the church are uneasy about such a focus on men. Although the Journey is focused on men’s discipleship, it’s implemented in an all-inclusive way to allow you to disciple men in whatever ministries they’re engaged in. We’ve also built in ideas for engaging other groups in the church—including women, youth, seniors, and others—through service, activities, and even some of the studies. For example, during the Challenge on relationships, we include married couples’ groups during the studies. Likewise, during the Challenge on fathering and mentoring, there’s an option to start a youth mentoring program. We show you how to involve the leaders of other ministries in what you’re doing, and how you can support their ministry efforts, too. We believe that when men’s hearts are changed by Christ, the entire church benefits: marriages are improved, families are strengthened, and communities are enriched. Ready to start the Journey to Biblical Manhood? Subscribe at maninthemirror.org/ JBM. We are honored to begin this adventure with you and your men.
GO and Make Disciples! October 26, 2012 was a historic day for Man in the Mirror and the cause of men’s discipleship. After a week of “Boot Camp,” three Area Directors were commissioned to begin building a local coalition for men’s discipleship in their assigned territories. To get there, each man had passed a vigorous screening process, raised up a prayer and financial support team and answered the call to invest their lives in helping churches disciple men.
Montana Paul Bacon is the Area Director for the Montana Coalition for Men’s Discipleship. He and his wife Marti, both licensed ministers, reside on a small ranch near Kalispell, Montana. Paul is a graduate of the US Naval Academy, University of Southern California, USAF Test Pilot School and is halfway through his MA with Liberty Theological Seminary. He spent forty years in aerospace and founded Texas Men of Impact.
Illinois Dr. Ronn Read is the Area Director for the Northwest Chicago land Coalition for Men’s Discipleship. He resides in Wauconda, Illinois with his wife Janie. Ronn received his M.Div from Liberty Theological Seminary and his D.Min. from Luther Rice Seminary. Ronn was most recently the Senior Pastor at Alpine Chapel in Lake Zurich, IL and has over thirty years of pastoral leadership and churchhealth experience.
Ohio Dr. Clark Miller is the Area Director for the Miami Valley Coalition for Men’s Discipleship. He and his wife Kim reside in Tipp City, Ohio where they attend Ginghamsburg Church. Clark has 20+ years of experience in Business Management, Project Development, H.R. Management, College/ Seminary Teaching, Pastoral Ministry and Mission Development. He holds a D.Min. from Ashland Theological Seminary.
More than 40 other men are in the process of raising funds as Area Directors for Man in the Mirror, and we need more. If you are interested in a career in men’s discipleship, or know someone who might be, please visit areadirectors.org for information and to begin the process.
Equipping Your Men’s Small Group
Get all your men engaged in the regular study of God’s Word by using this magazine as a small group tool. At the end of each week’s devotions, you’ll see a box containing discussion questions and exercises. These can form the basis of your time together. These pages supplement those questions with additional steps. If you use this magazine with your men this quarter you will have:
ose for cording God’s purp ac e lif of s ea ar ✔✔Prioritized your productivity. n who might need with a younger ma e tim me so t en ✔✔Sp mentoring. e of your s changed becaus ha e lif ur yo w ho ✔✔Made a list of God. relationship with for making ld you accountable ho to er mb me p ✔✔Asked a grou time for God. through a or neighbor going nd ie fr a on d lle ✔✔Visited or ca difficult time. leap of faith. towards a bigger ep st all sm a n ke Ta ✔✔ r a note of wife and given he ur yo h it w te da ✔✔Enjoyed a love. ly members. to one of your fami e lov al on iti nd co ✔✔Shown un ur pursuit of an daily activity in yo e on ge an ch to n ✔✔Chose abundant life. verse about ted on a scripture ta di me d an ed iz ✔✔Memor r your life. God’s priorities fo small group. ice plan for your rv se al nu an an ed ✔✔Creat ion of Scripture to s, a book or a port as cl a on d de ci service. ✔✔De fully equipped for re mo be to , to in dive Easter God praise at your n ve gi d an -8 :1 ✔✔Read Luke 24 church service. Continued on page 12
Small Group Guide continued from page 11
q 1/1-1/6: In this week’s devotions, you’ll focus in on what it means to be productive and bear fruit. SAS (Suggested Application Step): There are three reasons why God wants us to be productive: to leave the world a better place, to have balance, and to enlarge God’s Kingdom. Discuss with one another if your productivity leads to one or more of these results. Make a list of areas in in your life where you show productivity. Now prioritize the list according to God’s plan for productivity. q 1/7-1/13: These devotions teach you the vital relationship between a mentor and mentee such as Paul and Barnabus. SAS: Talk about mentoring in your group. Who has someone they're mentoring now? Who would like to? Invite a younger man to do something this week that might develop into a mentoring relationship (e.g., go get coffee, to a ball game, mini-golf, etc.). Share your experience next week. q 1/14-1/20: In this week of devotions you’ll see the dramatic change that
occurred in the life of Saul that caused God to give him a new name, Paul. SAS: Describe what it means to have a changed life or a conversion experience. Write down several ways your life has changed because of your relationship with the Lord. What area of your life do you need God to continue to change? Who might walk with you as you seek to change? From last week, were you able to connect with a younger man? How did it go?
q 1/21-1/27: Our devotional theme this week is that God wants to have communion with you and spend time with you. SAS: Have you considered whether you hunger or thirst for a relationship with God? All relationships have to be cultivated. What are you willing to do or give up to cultivate that relationship with Him? Share your answer with another man in your group and ask him to hold you accountable to that over the next two weeks. q 1/28-2/3:
This week your men will learn what it means to build a life according to God’s building code. SAS: When a hurricane hits, it exposes those structures that have strong foundations and those that have weak foundations. Our human struggles may reveal those same weaknesses. Who do you know that is going through a difficult time-- a job loss, divorce, health issue or something else? Make contact with that person this week to check in and see how you can help or pray for them.
q 2/4-2/10: These devotionals remind you of the great faith that Abraham
had and his willingness to obey God even if it meant sacrificing his son. SAS: Read Genesis 22:1-19 aloud to the group. What would be the most difficult leap of faith for you to make? Would you be willing to do that if God asked that of you? What is that one thing that came to mind as you thought about making a leap of faith? What is your first step towards that leap? Take that step this week.
q 2/11-2/17: This week you’ll look at the importance of the sanctity of
marriage and loving your wife. SAS: In the weekly questions you were asked to write a love note to your wife, now it is time to give it to her. Plan a
date (go out for coffee, lunch, a walk, send the kids to grandma’s house, etc.). Give her your note and affirm the words you wrote to her. Come back next week, ready to share something about your date with your wife.
q 2/18-2/24: This week’s devotionals address the difference between conditional love and unconditional love. SAS: Give the group a few minutes to discuss the characteristics of conditional love and unconditional love. Decide on one action to show unconditional love to a loved one this week. Share something from your date last week. q 2/25-3/3: These devotions remind you that God wants us to enjoy
the abundant life, not necessarily a life pursuing abundance. SAS: Discuss what people from your past and present might have to say about your earthly pursuits. What words would they use to describe you? What would you like to change? Choose a daily action that you could change that would impact that description of you.
q 3/4-3/10: This week you’ll see what it means to live by Biblical priorities. SAS: On a large piece of paper or white board, list scripture verses that define God’s priorities for our lives. (Ex. Luke 10:27, Acts 1:8, John 15:15) Read aloud some of the verses to the group. Ask the men to pick one of those verses to memorize. Memorize that verse and, each morning, ask God to use His Word to help you make your choices at home and at work. q 3/11-3/17: Our devotional theme for the week is the great privilege it is to serve the Lord and joy that comes with that service. SAS: As a group, discuss the various service projects that members would like to tackle. Prioritize them in your group. Create a service plan for your group with one service project per quarter for the next year. Make a copy for each man to take home with them. Come back next week with ideas for those projects and ways you can help make these projects successful. q 3/18-3/24: These devotions help you focus on the purpose that God has
given you which involves calling, equipping and sending. SAS: Has God invited or called you into a relationship with Him? Is He preparing or equipping you through prayer and His Word? Decide on a book to read, an online class to take, or a book of the Bible to work through that will better equip you to serve Him.
q 3/25-3/31: Brett Clemmer wrote these devotions about the man Jesus is and the mission accomplished through His life, death, burial and resurrection. SAS: Read Luke 24:1-8 aloud. Are you able to put into words the meaning of Easter for our world? Easter is a great opportunity to give God praise. During your Easter church service, be sure to give Him praise. It may be through song, prayer, an act of service or simply being fully engaged in the worship service at your church. He is risen! He is risen indeed! 13
How to Use This Devotional
Discussion/ journal questions One-year Bible daily reading
Tuesday—January 1 •
Have a Nice Day
Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Genesis 1:28
The concept of productivity has been around since the beginning of time. God created us in such a way that we feel best when we are producing something. We want to live satisfied lives, and our level of satisfaction generally rises to the level of productivity. But what, exactly, have we been created to produce? And more importantly, what are we as Christian men actually producing? God asked us to produce fruit. Instead, what we often seek to produce is money, comfort, power, and notoriety, among other things. But those aren’t the
things that really satisfy us, and that’s where many men find themselves today: productive, yes, but generally dissatisfied. And it’s because many of us have chosen to produce the wrong things. :MIMBS 1 What have you chosen to produce in your life? How is that working? What’s one thing you could do today to re-direct your attention to the kind of productivity Jesus talked about? Daily Reading: Genesis 1:12:25, Matthew 1:1-2:12, Psalm 1:1-6, Proverbs 1:1-6
How to Bear Fruit
But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. Matthew 13:23
To make the most of Equipping the Man in the Mirror, we have dissected a devotional so you don’t miss any aspect of the magazine (see below).
Wednesday—January 2 •
Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit” (John 15:8). Not “more” fruit, “much” fruit. And while part of that is related to the world around us—food and economic stability, for example—He’s also referring to things like love, joy and peace—fruit of the Spirit that leads to a satisfied life. The Lord doesn’t want you to be idle. He simply wants you to be busy doing the right things. So how do we bear much fruit? The world would answer that question by saying, “Work harder, smarter, and perhaps longer.” But Jesus said the key to living a productive life is hearing
the Word of God and understanding it (Matthew 13:23). That’s the key to productivity, because the only things we can grow are the things we plant. A man cannot bear the right kind of fruit in his life unless the seed of the Word is first sown in him. :MIMBS 1 What kind of “productivity” (fruit) do you see when you are consistently in the Word of God? Talk with some other men about how God’s Word changes you. Daily Reading: Genesis 3:1-4:26, Matthew 2:13-3:6, Psalm 2:1-12, Proverbs 1:7-9
Thursday—January 3 • Why We Should Produce Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands . . . so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders. 1 Thessalonians 4:11–12
There are three reasons why God wants us to be productive. First, to leave the world a better place than when we found it. Second, He wants us to have balance, and being productive in our jobs affords us the time and resources to devote our attention to other, more important, aspects of life. Finally, He wants us to enlarge His Kingdom. Francis Shaffer once said: “If you do your work well, you will have a chance to speak.” That’s a direct application of 1 Thessalonians 4:10–12.
When we are productive, non-Christians will be drawn to us, and often, drawn to Jesus Christ as well. And ultimately, that’s the most important kind of production there is: the making of disciples, and by extension, the enlarging of God’s Kingdom on earth. :MIMBS 1 How has your productivity or success at work helped or hindered your witness to outsiders? Daily Readings: Genesis 5:1-7:24, Matthew 3:74:11, Psalm 3:1-8, Proverbs 1:10-19
Friday/Saturday/Sunday—January 4, 5, 6 • Balancing Your Life
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. Ephesians 5:25 If you don’t have enough time for your family, you can be 100 percent certain that you are not following God’s will for your life. Husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church. And one of the most noteworthy things Jesus does for the church is to invest His life into it. We were and are His top priority. Some years ago I made a decision not work past 6 p.m. during the week and not to work weekends at all. On the way home each night, I would think about work until I got to the bridge that was three minutes from the house. Then I would take all of the “papers,” figuratively speaking, and put them in my imaginary briefcase. Then I’d shut it, throw it over the bridge, and visualize it splashing into the creek. I did that to clear my mind so that by the time I got home I was ready to re-engage my family. I’d come through the front door,
put on some jeans, and unwind for no longer than 15 minutes. From that moment on, I basically gave myself to my wife and children. I exhort you today in the name of Jesus Christ—get your life balanced. If you are surrounded by workaholics and have become addicted to that environment, you need to change your environment. If you struggle with a certain addiction, no matter what it is, you need to change your environment. Repentance is more than a decision. You have to be willing to also change your environment and lifestyle. There’s a battle for your soul going on. :MIMBS 1 Do you recognize a sin pattern in your life? If so, how can changing your environment help you overcome it? Daily Readings: Genesis 8:1-15:21, Matthew 4:12-5:48, Psalm 4:1-10, Proverbs 1:20-33
For Your Small Group
❏❏ January 1–6: Define “productivity” from a worldly versus Biblical viewpoint. Capture the definitions on a whiteboard or chart. •• What are the differences in your two definitions? •• Is productivity the highest goal you can have? If not, what is? •• Write a final definition of productivity that is “God-honoring.”
Monday —January 7 • A Culture that Attacks Manhood My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth . . . things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. Psalm 78:1–4
I am mentoring a young man in his late twenties. About the fourth time we got together, he was barely seated before he blurted out, “I have a mediocre marriage, a mediocre business, and a mediocre relationship with God.” He represents the chaos that marks the lives of many men today, especially younger men. Their world is increasingly complex, and they struggle to manage their most difficult circumstances. They want to make sense of life and live in a way that satisfies the God-given desire for meaning and purpose. Yet our culture is systematically deconstructing the ideal of manhood. The media often portrays men as baboon-brained,
sex-crazed mongrels. We are the butt of jokes, consistently represented as stupid slobs just because we are men. But now a great hunger is growing among men who want godly mentors to teach them what it means to be a godly man. We need men to step up to show other men how to be real men. :MIMBS 2 What characteristics would you look for in a mentor? Ask some men in your group for their thoughts. Daily Reading: Genesis 16:1-18:15, Matthew 6:1-24, Psalm 7:1-17, Proverbs 2:1-5
Tuesday—January 8 • Where Are All the Mentors?
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt? He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you.” Exodus 3:11–12 In almost every group, I find a handful of men who are deeply troubled. They just want to talk to someone who is willing to listen and will keep confidences. When I meet these men, I rarely say anything—I just ask questions. Usually the man talking to me will end up discovering his own answer. Younger men especially crave someone to walk with them and guide them through life’s travails. Yet many mature men feel inadequate as mentors. Moses felt the same way. After the failure of murdering an Egyptian and his self-imposed exile in Midian, he couldn’t believe that God could use him for anything. But God knew who He wanted for this important job. Since we are faced with such a great need
today, it’s unfortunate that so few men feel qualified to mentor others. Mentoring may not be leading a nation out of bondage, but it is vitally important. The Bible repeatedly calls men to help other men and also gives us stories of mentors who pass on spiritual wealth to a new generation. It’s time for mature men to step up to God’s call. :MIMBS 2 If you were approached to mentor someone, how would you respond? Would you feel up to the task? How could you seek out someone who needs a mentor? Daily Reading: Genesis 18:16-19:38, Matthew 6:25-7:14, Psalm 8:1-9, Proverbs 2:6-15
Wednesday—January 9 • Developing Trust and Obedience We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. Psalm 78:4b
Psalm 78 reveals two areas of knowledge to be passed on to future generations. The first is the evidence of God’s power and His wonders. In theology, we call that general revelation, for God demonstrates His power and majesty to all of mankind through His creation. The second area incorporates the principles that are spelled out in Scripture. We call that special revelation, for it takes in the specific guidelines and knowledge which God communicated through His Word. Psalm 78 says we are to teach these principles to the next generation, not just so they can know about God, but so they can put their trust in Him and obey Him. If children in our culture don’t know these things, it’s because of a disconnect in the
Thursday—January 10 •
mentoring process. We have a responsibility to ensure that the next generation is mentored to understand who God is and what He has done. And we haven’t finished the job until they also have grown mature in their faith, so they can mentor those who are yet to come. :MIMBS 2 Where do you see opportunities in your life to be a mentor? What would you share with someone who asked you to mentor them? Ask your group about their experiences helping other men. Daily Reading: Genesis 20:1-22:24, Matthew 7:15-29, Psalm 9:1-12, Proverbs 2:16-22
Investing in Other Men
And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. 2 Timothy 2:2 I led a prayer breakfast for 25 years. When I decided to give that up, I recruited a man and told him, “I’m going to work with you for a couple of years. When it’s time for you to pass on the role, you will mentor the next person. That way the prayer breakfast will go on.” God intends for His men to invest in other men in an ongoing mentoring process that reproduces itself as men pass on what they’ve received. You don’t have to be a great orator, or hold a theology degree. If you’re reliable, trustworthy and dependable, you have great potential to be mentored, and to mentor others. Mentoring is inherently filled with a sense
of calling and purpose, so that it reaches beyond the attention span and even the lifespan of the originator. Mentoring is the ultimate way to achieve a purpose that extends beyond our own lives. Through mentoring, we can change entire communities, if we are willing to be faithful, reliable stewards of God’s plan to pass on His vision to succeeding generations. :MIMBS 2 Discuss with some brothers what a reliable, trustworthy and dependable man looks like? Can you name some men like that? Are you one? Why or why not? Daily Reading: Genesis 23:1-24:51, Matthew 8:1-17, Psalm 9:13-20, Proverbs 3:1-6
Friday/Saturday/Sunday—January 11, 12, 13 • True Mentoring Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” 1 Samuel 3:7–9 Samuel was a young boy, born in answer to his mother’s prayer. Eli was an old priest whose own sons rebelled against God’s requirements. Yet God ordained for these two characters to come together, and He used Eli to train Samuel for future ministry. Scripture describes Samuel working at the temple, under Eli’s tutelage (see 1 Samuel 3). One night, after he was in bed, Samuel heard a voice calling him. Naturally, he assumed it was Eli. So the young boy ran obediently to his mentor to find out what was needed. Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back and lie down.” This happened three times. Scripture indicates
that Samuel was a faithful and trustworthy servant. But he needed to be mentored, because he did not recognize God’s voice. Eli, the old priest, told him how to respond if he heard the call again. Samuel obeyed. When he heard God calling his name, he said, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” God responded to Samuel’s obedience by giving him specific revelation about events that were about to unfold. This beautiful mentoring moment is recorded to show us how to respond when we hear God’s voice speaking through His Word or through His spirit. Just say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” But this story also serves to model for a theme that runs throughout Scripture. Mentoring is clearly on God’s heart. God is calling men to learn how to hear and respond to God’s voice, and to pass on that knowledge to others. :MIMBS 2 Describe a time that you “heard” God’s voice. How did you respond to it? How have you helped another man listen to God? Daily Reading: Genesis 24:52-29:35, Matthew 8:18-9:38, Psalm 10:1-11:7, Proverbs 3:7-12
For Your Small Group
❏❏ January 7–13: As a group, make a list of mentoring relationships from sports, history, the Bible, books and/or movies. •• Can you develop a definition of mentoring based on these examples? •• Were you mentored? Share some stories of how mentors have influenced the men in your group. •• If you were to be a mentor, how would you go about it? Who would you want to mentor? What lessons would you want to be sure to impart?
Monday—January 14 • The Ultimate Opportunity
Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. 1 Thessalonians 2:8 The best mentoring is both proclamation and incarnation. It involves verbal expression of God’s gospel. But it also gives people a chance to see how we live. This can happen one-on-one or in a small group. One of my first mentors led a Bible study. He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. He invited me to participate in a small group of men that met in his living room. His words and his example helped me to become the man God created me to be. That is the essence of mentoring.
By God’s grace, we can change our communities and our culture as we pursue a Scriptural model of mentoring. We can pass on to succeeding generations the revelation of God’s plan for redemption and daily renewal. And you can be part of that. This is the ultimate opportunity to participate in a model that has molded generations before us. God intends His faithful and trustworthy men to invest in the lives of others. :MIMBS 3 What does it look like when someone’s words don’t match their actions—their proclamation is different than their incarnation? Is this true in any areas of your life? Daily Reading: Genesis 30:1-31:16, Matthew 10:1-23, Psalm 12:1-8, Proverbs 3:13-15
I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas . . . Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. Galatians 1:17–2:1 In the Army, a 90-day wonder is an officer who goes through a three-month training school and comes out as a raw Second Lieutenant—the lowest person on the officer food chain. By contrast, God often takes His time to train a leader. He sends an individual to an obscure place where He can mold and train that person to achieve his ultimate purpose. The book of Acts introduces us to a Saul, a man intent on persecuting Christians. He was traveling on a dusty strip of road to arrest believers in Damascus, when a heavenly light left him physically blind. Saul converted to Christianity, was healed of his blindness, and then had to flee for his life.
When he (Saul) came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles . . . So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. Acts 9:26–28 The Bible describes Barnabas as “a good man” who was “full of the Holy Spirit and faith” (Acts 11:24). Barnabas saw something in the converted Saul that others missed. Other disciples excluded Saul from their community because they were afraid. Barnabas looked beyond Saul’s reputation to see the tremendous potential dwelling within the transformed man. Barnabas had lived a life of integrity and service before the Christian community. When Barnabas vouched for Saul, he showed he was willing to put his personal, hard-earned credibility on the line for a young man who could not earn acceptance on his own at that point. Barnabas stands as a model for mentors
Tuesday—January 15 • Turning Sauls into Pauls
By combining information from Galatians and Acts, you can establish a timeline showing that Saul was tucked away for several years, being prepared to respond to God’s calling. He went into that period as Saul, and he emerged as Paul, the Apostle who pioneered missionary work and wrote many of the books included in our New Testament. Mentoring is all about turning Sauls into Pauls. :MIMBS 3 After you were converted, what finally prompted you to really “do business” with God? Are you there yet? Why or why not? Daily Reading: Genesis 31:17-32:12, Matthew 10:24-11:6, Psalm 13:1-6, Proverbs 3:16-18
Wednesday—January 16 • Confident Investor
in every generation. He saw something in Saul that others missed, and he was willing to risk his own reputation to vouch for the new convert’s dramatic transformation. Sometime later, Barnabas needed a ministry partner. Who did he go with? Saul. :MIMBS 3 Prayerfully think back over your life. Was there a time that someone befriended you in a way that altered your future? Take some time to thank God for this person. Consider writing them a personal note today. Daily Reading: Genesis 32:13-34:31, Matthew 11:7-30, Psalm 14:1-7, Proverbs 3:19-20
Thursday—January 17 • “On-the-Job” Training Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. Acts 11:25–26
Acts 11 tells us that some believers fled from Jerusalem to avoid persecution, ending up in a place called Antioch. Eventually the Gospel crossed over cultural barriers there, so that some Gentiles became believers. When church leaders in Jerusalem heard news of this development, they decided to send someone to investigate. They chose Barnabas. The Bible tells us, “When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts” (Acts 11:23). Then he went looking for Saul. Based on Galatians and Acts, it appears that Saul had been living in relative obscurity in Tarsus for about a dozen years. Barnabas had vouched for Saul, and he kept him in
the back of his mind. At the right time, he traveled to find Saul and brought him to Antioch, where for a full year, he provided on-the-job training as he and Saul “met with the church and taught great numbers of people.” Mentoring can be like that— laboring alongside someone to help them achieve their potential. :MIMBS 3 In what ministry areas could you be helped by having some “on-the-job” training? Prayerfully consider someone that you might ask God to partner you with, or who could mentor you in those areas. Daily Reading: Genesis 35:1-36:43, Matthew 12:1-21, Psalm 15:1-5, Proverbs 3:21-26
Friday/Saturday/Sunday—January 18, 19, 20 • Mentors Rejoice Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! . . . You are going to be blind for a time, . . . ” Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed . . . From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia . . . Acts 13:9–13 Acts 13 opens with a description of Antioch’s church leadership. Among the five men listed, Barnabas comes first, and Saul comes last, indicating that Saul was “low man on the totem pole.” One day the Holy Spirit indicated the leaders should set apart Barnabas and Saul for a new type of ministry. So with the church’s blessing, Barnabas and Saul launched their first missionary journey. They went to Cyprus, where they were summoned to meet with a government official. In that meeting, these two missionaries were opposed by a Jewish sorcerer named Elymas. Today’s scripture relates that Saul confronted the sorcerer. Elymas went blind and the proconsul became a believer. But also as a result, this is the moment when Scripture notes that Saul became Paul. Until this point, Saul
has been least among the leaders. Now Paul becomes the primary leader. For the rest of the book of Acts, you will see Paul listed first (for instance, see Acts 13:42 and 43). As godly mentors submit to the natural order of God’s Kingdom, they can expect their mentees to exceed them in ministry. Even Jesus told His disciples, “You will do greater things than I have done” (see John 14:11-13). Since about 1996, I’ve been praying that every person I deal with in ministry will surpass me. True mentors make themselves available to others. They look for people they can build up. They have a zeal and a passion to see their mentees become everything God wants them to be. They rejoice when their Sauls become Pauls, surpassing them in ministry. :MIMBS 3 What motivates a godly mentor to rejoice when his mentee surpasses him in ministry? Is there someone you are working with who you are praying for that they will do greater things than you? Daily Reading: Genesis 37:1-42:17, Matthew 12:22-13:46, Psalm 16:1-18:15, Proverbs 3:27-4:6
For Your Small Group
❏❏ January 14 –20: Ask each man for a one word description of Saul. Ask each man for a one word description of Paul. •• Have you ever known someone whose life underwent a radical transformation? •• Why is Paul’s transformed life such an encouragement to us? •• What did you learn about mentoring from the relationship between Saul and Barnabas?
Monday—January 21 • When Your Soul Feels Dry As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. Psalm 42:1–2a
Several years ago I attended a luncheon to hear a presentation by Walt Meloon, founder of Correct Craft, the boat manufacturing company that makes world famous Ski Nautique boats. At the end of his message, he stood by the door. As I exited, he took my hand in both of his and shook it vigorously. He said with passion, “Isn’t God good?” I was sort of shocked. I remember telling myself, “I think God is good, but obviously I don’t think He’s as good as Walt does.” I wondered if he might be faking it, but he would have to be a world-class liar to pull that off. And then I decided that he must have found something to deeply
satisfy his soul, and I had not yet found it. Frankly, it looked very attractive. Unfortunately, most men only know enough about God to be disappointed in Him. Statistics show that men are withdrawing from places of worship. It’s no wonder their souls are dry. We are thirsty for a real encounter with God. Nothing else will satisfy that craving. :MIMBS 4 The Psalmist describes his thirst for God as a deer panting for water. How would you describe your thirst for God? Daily Reading: Genesis 42:18-43:34, Matthew 13:47-14:12, Psalm 18:16-36, Proverbs 4:7-10
Tuesday—January 22 • Caught in the Rat Race Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:11
Our culture perpetuates the lie that men are not as spiritually oriented as women are. Through my years of ministry, I’ve found that men have a primal need for transcendence and awe, and they crave communion with God. I was a young believer when I first recognized that hunger. I remember looking through a Book of Common Prayer and experiencing a deep sense of need. I knew intuitively that only God could satisfy that craving. But no one mentored me then, so the need wasn’t satisfied for a long time. The Bible tells us the most important thing we can do is love God with all our heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37).
That’s hard to do. That’s why David was downcast and disturbed in today’s Scripture. We men tend to get caught in a rat race, trying to meet deadlines, keep wives happy, and take care of kids. We start leading an unexamined life. One day we wake up feeling a sense of abandonment. But God hasn’t abandoned us. Rather, we’ve abandoned our great spiritual heritage, and we end up living like orphans. :MIMBS 4 When did you first recognize your hunger for God? Daily Reading: Genesis 44:1-45:28, Matthew 14:13-36, Psalm 18:37-50, Proverbs 4:11-13
Wednesday—January 23 • Showing Up
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3 Sometime in their lives, men discover a primal craving for communion with God. We tend to fill our lives with other things, yet God loves us and draws us to Himself. He makes Himself available, so that 99 percent of communion with God is just showing up. A number of experiences can trigger that first awareness of His presence. Some men say they saw something beautiful in nature or endured some life-altering experience. My first true encounter with God happened in a Sunday School class. I was leaning back in a chair with my arms crossed, trying to determine which class members were potential real estate investors. The teacher read the Scriptural admonition
for husbands to “love your wives as Christ loved the church.” I felt like he was calling me out. It felt like someone subjected me to 50,000 volts of electricity. I turned beet red and sweated profusely. Several moments later I finally looked up, and I found the rest of the class had moved on. Whatever occurred was completely between God and me. I had just been personally introduced to the God Who really knew me, and Who wanted me to really know Him. :MIMBS 4 Have you ever had an experience where you felt like God was talking “just to you”? Share this experience with some brothers. Daily Reading: Genesis 46:1-47:31, Matthew 15:1-28, Psalm 19:1-14, Proverbs 4:14-19
Thursday—January 24 • Leave Room for Mystery “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8–9
A few years ago I was reading the creation account in Genesis. I found so many interesting, unexplainable points, and I remember saying out loud, “Mystery abounds!” So I had this idea that, as I read through my Bible that year, I would mark each place that I saw something mysterious, or something that raised a question, or something that I didn’t completely understand. I marked those places with checkmarks, and then at the bottom of each page with at least one checkmark, I wrote “MA” for “mystery abounds.” At the end of the year, I went back through my Bible, and I found an “MA” at the bottom of every page.
God’s ways aren’t like ours. Don’t pursue a god that you can fully understand. If you can put your God in a box and predict His every move, then you are following the wrong God. As you seek to encounter God in a real way, leave room for the mystery of an infinite, omnipotent, omnipresent, omnibenevolent, self-existing God. Let Him surprise you—in His Word, and in your life. :MIMBS 4 Describe something you’ve discovered about God, either through your reading or your experience, which has surprised you. Daily Reading: Genesis 48:1-49:33, Matthew 15:29-16:12, Psalm 20:1-9, Proverbs 4:20-27
Friday/Saturday/Sunday—January 25, 26, 27 Invest Time with God Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30:18
When I visit New York City, I love to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Monet paintings. A few years ago, I was there with a colleague. We caught a cab to head for the airport. As we had just about ten extra minutes in our schedule, I told him I’d like to stop and see the Monet exhibit. We asked the cab driver to pull up at the Met, and asked him to wait for us. Then we brisk-walked in, briskwalked through the Monet collection, and brisk-walked back to the cab. I can tell you that ten minutes with Monet is not enough. You can’t treat this great artist like fast food. You have to linger and stare and absorb the views. It’s the same with our relationship with God. Feeding our souls is not just another item to check off our “to-do” list. It takes time. The Bible tells us the most important thing we can do is to love God with all
our heart, mind and soul (Matthew 22:37). Jesus asked His disciples, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matthew 16:26). If we accept those statements as reality, then surely we can see that it’s worth investing time so we can know about God, and also really know Him. Today’s Scripture says He wants to be gracious to you, and He will bless anyone who is willing wait for Him. Truly, 99 percent of communing with God is just showing up and being present. He’s willing and able to do the rest. :MIMBS 4 How would you respond to someone who says he just doesn’t have time to develop his relationship with God? Daily Reading: Genesis 50:1–Exodus 5:21, Matthew 16:13-18:20, Psalm 21:1-22:31, Proverbs 5:1-21
For Your Small Group
❏❏ January 21–27: Take 2–3 minutes and reflect on the times in your life when you experienced a feeling of closeness with God or a time when you felt a distance from God. •• Can you explain those feelings? Did it have anything to do with circumstances? •• How do you invest time with God? •• Would you like to spend more time in communion with God? What would that look like?
Monday—January 28 • Test the Quality of Your Building
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. 2 Corinthians 13:5 Life can expose your character issues, sometimes in seemingly insignificant events. Several years ago I went to Las Vegas to speak at a prayer breakfast for 500 shopping center developers. I was going to tell them how Jesus could change their lives. When I left my room that morning, I saw a newspaper in front of every door, except for mine. I said, “Man, I really wanted a newspaper today.” So I reached over, picked up a newspaper from the door across the hall, and started walking away. I got 10 steps down the hallway, and I asked myself, What in the world are you doing? Can Jesus Christ be Lord in that? So I tiptoed back down the hall, because I
didn’t want to get caught, and I returned the newspaper. It’s the simple tests that will help you gauge the quality of the building that represents your life. It will help you determine if you are truly building your life according to God’s code. Simply ask yourself, “In what I am about to think, say, or do, can Jesus Christ be Lord?” :MIMBS 5 Has anything happened recently that helped you test the quality of the building that represents your life? Were you happy with the results of the test? Why or why not? Daily Reading: Exodus 5:22-7:25, Matthew 18:21-19:12, Psalm 23:1-6, Proverbs 5:22-23
Tuesday—January 29 • Receiving a Reward The fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. 1 Corinthians 3:13b–15
God has a building code. He has a plan for building a life that reflects His Son’s character. Today’s passage shows that His code includes a deadline and an inspection. Salvation depends solely on our foundation, our faith in Christ. But someday you will have to account for how you built on that foundation. This isn’t about earning merit— it’s about the work that should accompany authentic faith. When your work faces the test, if it
survives you will receive a reward. This passage indicates that our failure will bring about loss. The passages about rewards and crowns are not the easiest to interpret, but it is clear that both Jesus and Paul thought this message was very important. When Jesus recreates the new heavens and new earth, in some sense people will reap the fruits of their labor. I don’t know about you, but I want to be on the positive end of that equation. :MIMBS 5 Explain how works that attempt to earn merit are not the same as works that accompany authentic faith. Share your thoughts with some other men. Daily Reading: Exodus 8:1–9:35, Matthew 18:21-19:12, Psalm 23:1-6, Proverbs 5:22-23
Wednesday—January 30 • Can Jesus Be My Lord in This? Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22
If you’re living as a cultural Christian, you’re fitting Jesus into your pre-existing worldview rather than accepting an entirely new view of life. Your faith is tepid and lukewarm, and eventually it will show in your actions. The Scriptures challenge the true believer to live the principles of God’s Word. You can stay on track by aligning your life with this question: Can Jesus be my Lord . . . . . . in the way I drive? . . . when I turn in my taxes? . . . while I’m selecting something on TV? . . . while I’m “discussing” something with my wife?
After working a few years with someone, suppose you finally go to lunch together, and you mention that you are a Christian. If he says, “Wow, I had no idea,” then you’ve probably been building your life with inferior materials. Make your corrections now, because once you die, there’s no “re-do.” :MIMBS 5 How would you answer the questions above? Are you merely listening to the Word but not really doing it? How would you like God to help change your character so that He is always Lord? Daily Reading: Exodus 10:112:13, Matthew 20:1-28, Psalm 25:1-15, Proverbs 6:6-11
Thursday—January 31 • Great Things for God But He [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. . . . For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9–10
A remnant of Hebrew people returned to their homeland following being released from captivity in Babylon. By 446 B.C. nearly a full century passed, and still their nation lay in ruins. Nehemiah, cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, heard about it. He “mourned and fasted and prayed,” and then stepped out in faith, convincing the king to send him to help his people rebuild the ruins of their country and of their lives. The great pioneer missionary Hudson Taylor once noted, “Many Christians estimate difficulties in light of their own resources, and thus attempt little and often fail at the little they do attempt. All God’s giants have been weak men who did great
things for God because they recognized His power and presence being with them.” Nehemiah is one of those giants. He had a realistic view of his nation’s difficulties, yet he trusted in God’s power rather than his own. God is still looking for that kind of man. All we have to say is, “I’m going to the great God of heaven,” and then trust Him to respond. :MIMBS 5 Describe a difficult situation you are facing right now. Are you relying on your own power, or on God’s? Explain your answer. Daily Reading: Exodus 12:14-13:16, Matthew 20:29-21:22, Psalm 25:16-22, Proverbs 6:12-15
Friday/Saturday/Sunday—February 1, 2, 3 • A Nation in Ruins I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” Nehemiah 1:2–3 Nehemiah’s beloved nation lay in ruins. Scripture tells us Jerusalem’s wall was broken down, and the gates had been destroyed. In some ways, that picture also reflected the spiritual and emotional state of the people who inhabited the land. In a similar way, statistics indicate that our nation may be on the verge of moral collapse. Obviously, statistics can be manipulated so they appear to reveal something that simply isn’t true. But at Man in the Mirror, we work hard to use only reliable information. Credible statistics can offer a window into what is happening within a culture. So consider these facts: •• About 113 million men age 15 and older live in the U.S., and 66 million of them make no profession of faith. •• Only about six million men (1 in 18) are involved in any kind of spiritual formation or discipleship. •• 72 million children under the age of 18 (one-third of them) do not live with their biological fathers. •• Estimates indicate that 66 percent of children born in the U.S. will not live with both biological parents through the age of 18.
•• Fatherless kids are five times more likely to live in poverty, repeat a grade, or have an emotional problem. The statistics go on and on, and they reveal that we really are a nation in ruins. We’ve completely gutted the system that made our nation great. Yet because of God, our situation is not hopeless. He’s still looking for some modern-day Nehemiahs, men who are willing to say, “I can’t do this on my own, but I’m willing to let God work through me.” :MIMBS 5 Looking at each statistic above, can you think of at least one person who fits in each category? Think of those individuals as you pray for the state of our nation, and ask God how He might work through you to make a difference in their lives. Daily Reading: Exodus 13:17-19:15, Matthew 21:23-23:12, Psalm 26:1-27:14, Proverbs 6:16-35
For Your Small Group
❏❏ January 28–February 3: Reread the Hudson Taylor quote in Thursday’s devotion (page 27). •• Does it make sense to you that we often attempt little and fail what we do attempt because we rely on our own strength rather than God’s? Can you give an example of this from your own life? •• What is a “great thing for God” you feel called to do, but are reluctant because it seems so daunting?
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Monday—February 4 • Trusting God for the Unknown By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
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Tuesday—February 5 • Trusting God for an Unbelievable Future
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Abram obeyed, and as a result, eventually he became known as Abraham, the father of faith. God often calls His followers to trust Him more than we trust what is familiar. He often challenges us to leave our comfort zone, trusting Him to handle the unknowns. :MIMBS 6 Have you ever felt God calling you to do something that you were unsure of or unprepared for? What did you do? What would you do if God directed you towards an uncertain path? Daily Reading: Exodus 19:16-21:21, Matthew 23:13-39, Psalm 28:1-9, Proverbs 7:1-5
Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:4–6 In obedience to God, Abram left his familiar environment. He didn’t always demonstrate great faith, but God continued to offer life-changing encounters. One of those meetings is recorded in Genesis 15. Abram was more than 75-years-old. His wife was a little younger, but she was barren. Yet God promised a son. Abram faced a major faith question. Would he believe God’s great promise for an invisible future, or would he cling to the visible present? Today’s passage says, “Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.” Abram didn’t immediately receive the fruit of his faith. About 25 years passed before God brought forth the promised child. During that quarter century, Abram and his wife erred
several times in their pursuit of God’s plan. Eventually God encountered Abram again, changing his name to Abraham. Then He restated His promise, and at the specified time, Abraham’s son was born. That miracle had its roots in an event that happened many years before. Abram was able to believe the unbelievable, because he knew the God for whom nothing is impossible (see Genesis 18:14). :MIMBS 6 What is the longest you have waited to see God’s faithfulness fulfilled? Are you still waiting for a promise He made to you to come true? How do you keep believing? Daily Reading: Exodus 21:22-23:13,Matthew 24:1-28, Psalm 29:1-11, Proverbs 7:6-23
Wednesday—February 6 • An Extraordinary Test By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death. Hebrews 11:17–19
Abraham waited a quarter-century for the birth of the son God had promised. Can you imagine his emotional response when God asked him to sacrifice that child? Abraham passed that extraordinary test because he trusted the character and power of God. He took his son to the appointed place, bound the boy and took out a knife. And then God stopped him and provided a substitute sacrifice (see Genesis 22). God will never subject another man to the test that He required of Abraham. But God will ask if we’re willing to give up the one thing we think we most want to keep. When I first became a believer, I was a real estate
developer. I loved my job, and I never really wanted to do anything else. God tested me by allowing me to be crushed in that career. But His purpose was to lead me to my place in His redemptive plan. God didn’t want to be my personal assistant, working to make all my dreams come true. He wanted to be my Lord. :MIMBS 6 Is God asking you to give up something? What is it? Can you trust Him to provide you with something better? Share your thoughts with some other men. Daily Reading: Exodus 23:14-25:40, Matthew 24:29-51, Psalm 30:1-12, Proverbs 7:24-27
Thursday—February 7 • Taking Hold of the Goal 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. Philippians 3:13b–14
From Scriptural accounts of Abraham and other great men, we find that God often reveals His plans for us in stages. We don’t always get the details right. We make mistakes. We sin, and we hurt people. But that does not disqualify us from being part of God’s family. We always have a choice. As Paul said in today’s Scripture, we will continually come face-to-face with our imperfections. But by faith, we demonstrate by our lives that we are pressing on to become the men God intended when He created us. We can learn to believe God, even in the face of unbelievable circumstances. We can believe for God’s promises to be fulfilled in our lives. And we can cling to Him, trusting His character and His power, even in those seasons when He is disciplining and testing us. Abraham
learned that kind of faith, and in the process, he became the man God intended. When we learn that kind of faith, we also will find ourselves fulfilling the purpose that God intended when He created us. :MIMBS 6 How has God already revealed to you some overall purposes for your life? How are you pressing on toward those goals? Daily Reading: Exodus 26:1-27:21, Matthew 25:1-30, Psalm 31:1-8, Proverbs 8:1-11
Friday/Saturday/Sunday—February 8, 9, 10 Releasing God’s Power Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. Isaiah 30:18
I meet men all the time who are impatient for change. They make huge decisions to close a business, to cut off a child, to divorce a woman, to bail out on a home mortgage. They’re not praying or seeking God’s answer. They’re making those decisions simply because they are impatient. Trust God, then wait. Look at Abraham. Through a lifetime marked by encounters with God, Abraham developed a faith that trusted God for what seemed impossible, even if he had to wait years to see the fruit of God’s promises. I don’t know what you’re dealing with. Perhaps you’re like a young man I met who was playing in a storm sewer when he was ten and found a rolled up magazine. When he looked inside, Satan put a hook in his heart, and he’s been dealing with a pornography addiction ever since. Maybe you ache because of a broken relationship that seems irreconcilable. Maybe you’re about to drown in debt. Abraham stands as an example for Christian men who face seemingly impossible challenges.
If you’re in a hard place, trust God and wait. If the Holy Spirit lives within you, the fruit of patience is already within you. My pastor once said Billy Graham was complimented on his patience, and he replied, “I don’t have any more patience than anyone else. I just use mine.” The advantage of walking with God over many years is that, as you wait on God and see Him act in various circumstances, doubting actually becomes harder than belief. A man becomes his true self by believing God in the face of unbelievable circumstances, and by trusting Him enough to wait for Him to act. :MIMBS 6 In what area of your life have you desired a change? Have you prayed, asking God if that change is part of His plan for you? How does today’s Scripture passage encourage you to wait for His answer? Daily Reading: Exodus 28:1-31:18, Matthew 25:31-26:68, Psalm 31:9-32:11, Proverbs 8:12-21
For Your Small Group
❏❏ February 4—10: Abraham was a man of great faith. He waited 25 years for a son and God asked him to sacrifice that son as an act of obedience. •• What has been your greatest test or greatest leap of faith? What made that test or leap so difficult? •• Why would God ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? •• Knowing how the story ends, what did it reveal about Abraham’s character? About God’s character?
Monday—February 11 • The Sanctity of Marriage
“For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” Malachi 2:16 nlt Florence Littauer said, “We are attracted to each other’s strengths, then go home to live with each other’s weaknesses.” Marriage is wonderful, but it isn’t easy. Many couples simply quit trying to “make it work.” Tonight, about 40 percent of America’s 72 million children will sleep in a home without a biological father—and it’s not just non-Christians contributing to that statistic. Long ago our culture abandoned the sanctity of marriage. Instead of “till death do us part,” our culture substitutes “as long as love shall last.” Frankly, we Christians sometimes live by that motto as well. In marriage, you will find few people who are committed
to helping you make it. And probably you won’t encounter any type of “stigma” if your marriage disintegrates. As important as it is to be committed to your wife, it’s even more important to be committed to the institution of marriage. If you aren’t, what moral glue will help you persevere when things get tough? Regularly affirm your commitment to the sanctity of biblical marriage. ALM 97 Do you really believe that marriage is “till death do us part”? How do your actions indicate what you believe? Daily Reading: Exodus 32:1-33:23, Matthew 26:69-27:14, Psalm 33:1-11, Proverbs 8:33-36
Tuesday—February 12 • Give and Take
Husbands . . . be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. 1 Peter 3:7 Life is full of give and take, especially in marriage. There are times when you give to her, listen to her and show her love, and then comes that day or season when you are given to, listened to and shown love. No relationship, whether marriage, business, or friendship, is always fair. One day you’ll feel cheated or shortchanged and the next you may think you are the luckiest man alive. What a vivid reminder that it is a good thing that we are not treated fairly by God. In His mercy and grace, He did not give us what we deserve. He gave love beyond our wildest expectations. The love
we receive from Him is unconditional. It is definitely NOT fair! We cannot love the way He calls us to love in our own power. It is only through Him that we can love the way He wants us to love. ALM 97 In what area of your marriage have you felt cheated or shortchanged? This week, ask God to heal that area and give you the opportunity to see it in a new way. Share your thoughts with your group. Daily Reading: Exodus 34:1-35:9, Matthew 27:15-31, Psalm 33:12-22, Proverbs 9:1-6
Wednesday—February 13 • Your Wife’s Greatest Need Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33
A man is made for task or mission. His greatest need is to be significant—to leave his mark on the world. No man wants to be a shooting star that streaks across the sky one night and then disappears. Take a moment to focus on the one thing that gets you out of bed in the morning. What one thing builds your intensity and makes you happy to be alive? What one thing makes you feel significant? Now, hold that thought . . . Your wife has something that motivates her that strongly, too. Her greatest need isn’t for significance—it’s for intimacy. Your wife needs you to give her the first place in your life, in the same way she already has naturally given you the first place in hers. After God, but before all others, make your wife your top priority. Trust
me—eventually you will realize that you and your wife really are the only two people in this thing together. ALM 97 Think about your schedule over the last few weeks. How have you shown your wife she is a priority to you? List one or two tangible ways you could reinforce your commitment to her. Daily Reading: Exodus 35:10-36:38, Matthew 27:32-66, Psalm 34:1-10, Proverbs 9:7-8
Thursday—February 14 • Why Is She Like That?
“In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery. Ephesians 5:28–32 I heard one young man advise another, “Keep your sense of humor. Girls are weird.” I think he meant that women are difficult to understand, because they’re different. Most of us could cite a dozen examples supporting this, and frankly, that’s part of the miracle of Christian marriage. Marriage is a mysterious, mystical fusion of two separate lives. Yet when they are surrendered to God and to each other, they become “one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 tells us they will be “united” or they will “cleave” (kjv). That’s like gluing two pieces of paper together—you can’t tear one without tearing both. That’s the kind of union God has
in mind. So love your wife as Christ loves His church. Proclaim the gospel, consecrate yourself, intercede, sacrifice, serve, lead, protect, provide. And accept the fact that your relationship with your wife is your primary task, and your marriage is your mission. ALM 97 Is your marriage like two pieces of paper glued together? How could that thought change the way you relate to your wife? Daily Reading: Exodus 37:1-38:31, Matthew 28:1-20, Psalm 34:11-22, Proverbs 9:9-10
Friday/Saturday/Sunday—February 15, 16, 17 A Performance-Based Culture
Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” John 3:3
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus . . . John 3:1 We live in a performance-based culture, where strong performance yields reward, and weak performance brings negative consequences. In sports, a guy may have been a great receiver last year, but he’ll be benched if he drops too many passes this year. At work, you may have done a good job for the last two decades, but if you sit on your behind for the next two months, you’ll be in serious trouble with your employer. In marriage, if you don’t do the things that support your relationship, your bond will suffer. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that men bring this performance mind-set with them, even when they are exposed to Christianity. They think they need to figure out what to do to be a good Christian. There was a man like this in Jesus’ time. His name was Nicodemus. He’s not unlike a lot of men in our community, so let’s take a look at what the Bible says about him. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, meaning he was not “clergy,” but he was a “layman.” Still, Pharisees were incredibly religious people. In fact, in the culture of Jesus’ day, Pharisees
were the most accomplished in all the population at keeping the myriad of religious laws set up by men. “Do this, don’t do this, don’t touch that, don’t look at that . . .” They kept all those rules scrupulously. Not only was Nicodemus a Pharisee, but he also was a member of the Sanhedrin. This means he was one of about 70 men who ruled the nation of Israel. John 3:2 tells us that Nicodemus “came to Jesus at night.” A lot of people beat up on Nicodemus for not having the courage to come in the day. But let’s be realistic—he’s a ruler of the nation. His movements would be scrutinized and taken as “signals” for the rest of the population. Let’s give him credit for coming at all. He had a genuine curiosity about Jesus, and he wanted to meet Him face-to-face. Like many contemporary men, he came with a performance mentality. Jesus was about to turn his world upside down. ALM 97 Prayerfully examine your feelings about Christianity. List areas where you’ve allowed a performance mentality to affect how you approach Jesus. Daily Reading: Exodus 39:1-40:38, Leviticus 1:1-5:19, Mark 1:1-3:36, Psalm 35:1-36:12, Proverbs 9:11-10:2
For Your Small Group
❏❏ February 11–17: During this week of Valentines and love, what are you most grateful for in your marriage or family life? •• Do you know your wife’s “love language?” What is it? (5lovelanguages.com) •• What does it mean to love your wife “like Christ loved the Church”? (Eph. 5:25) •• Even though Valentine’s Day is over, why not surprise her by writing her a love note? Take a few minutes to begin that note right now.
Monday—February 18 • Born of the Spirit
Nicodemus told Jesus, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him” (v. 2). Jesus got down to business with His reply: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Nicodemus expressed confusion: “How can a man be born when he is old? . . . Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” (v. 4). And Jesus clarified, saying, “No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” To be born again is to be born of the Spirit. Still Nicodemus struggled to understand.
Why do we wrestle with this idea of being born anew? For the same reason that when you tell someone, “I missed you at church,” he may think you’re scolding him for not being there. We’re all engaged in a flawed attempt to earn acceptance through performance. But God’s kingdom isn’t about performance. Just like you didn’t earn the right to be born physically, you can’t earn the right to be born again. ALM 97 Read that last statement again. How does it support or challenge your understanding of Christianity? Daily Reading: Leviticus 6:1-7:27, Mark 3:7-30, Psalm 37:1-11, Proverbs 10:3-4
Tuesday—February 19 • Love Freely Given For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Nicodemus couldn’t quite grasp this unconditional love that cannot be earned. God’s purpose wasn’t to condemn our inability to measure up—it was to draw us into relationship with Him. If you think Nicodemus was confused, you should have seen me when I first heard about it. Somebody said to me one day, “Are you a ‘Borneo’ Christian?” I said, “No, I’ve never been to Borneo.” They said, “No! I said are you a born-again Christian?” I thought Christianity meant being good enough for Jesus to love me. And I knew I could never be that good. So I just assumed that Jesus didn’t love me. That day I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and give me the gift of eternal life. I must have prayed that a hundred times, hoping
that by repetition, somehow a little root would break through the subsoil of my heart. And it did, because I finally came to understand that God’s love is unmerited. ALM 97 Are you still wrestling with the fact that God loves you, even though you can’t “measure up”? Why or why not? Talk with some other men about you’re answer. Daily Reading: Leviticus 7:28-9:6, Mark 3:314:25, Psalm 37:12-29, Proverbs 10:5
Wednesday—February 20 • God’s Love Communicates Value
I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. Jeremiah 31:3 Suppose I pulled my wallet out and offered you a $100 bill. Would you want it? What if I crumpled it up into a ball? What if I put it on the floor and stomped on it, so it got all smudged? What if I accidentally left it in my pants pocket so it went through the laundry and got a little frayed around the edges? Would you still want it? Of course you would. Why? Because the condition of the bill doesn’t alter its value. That’s how God feels about you. He doesn’t like your sin, and He doesn’t like
the results of sin in your life. He may not like where you’ve been or what you’ve done. And He may not like what your choices have done to you. But no matter what shape your life is in, God loves you. The condition of your life doesn’t alter its value to God. He loves you. ALM 97 If you were a $100 bill, what would you look like? Faded? Crumpled? Smudged? Pray that God will help you see your true value in His eyes. Daily Reading: Leviticus 9:7-10:20, Mark 4:265:20, Psalm 37:30-40, Proverbs 10:6-7
Thursday—February 21 • Conditional Love Brings Fear
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. 1 John 4:18 David Cook earned a Ph.D. in sport and performance psychology from the University of Virginia. He then ran a company that addresses psychological enhancement for clients which include men from Fortune 500 companies as well as top professional athletes. His basic idea boils down to this: conditional love leads to a fear mentality. A player comes out of the locker room knowing if he does well, people will care about him. And if he doesn’t, the coach will punish him. It begins a psychological process that makes the athlete think “I need to avoid
making mistakes” rather than “I’m looking for a game-breaking play.” He says the key to peak athletic performance is unconditional love. It enables an athlete to live and to play without fear. If it’s true in sports, it’s even more true in life. Perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. ALM 97
Friday/Saturday/Sunday—February 22, 23, 24 Unconditional Love A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17
Performance psychologist David Cook told a story about Terry Pettit, who coached Nebraska’s women’s volleyball team. For 21 years, his life’s dream had been to win the national championship. In 1995, he finally had the team that looked like they would do it. In the semi-final match, the opposing team began to move ahead, and suddenly, Nebraska was down 13 to 7. Pettit could see the game slipping away. He called a time-out. He told David that in that moment he didn’t know what to say to the young collegiate athletes. They gathered around, looking at him intently and waiting for a word of encouragement. Somewhere deep inside of him, something began to take shape. He could feel it rising in his chest and moving towards his throat, and suddenly he heard himself say, “I don’t know if we are going to win or lose this match today, girls, but what I want you to know is that I love each of you very much.” And then he couldn’t think of anything else to say. His eyes filled with moisture, and as he looked around, all the young ladies had tears in their eyes. He had never said anything like this before in his life. And these young women had never experienced that kind of unconditional love in athletic competition. Not knowing what else to say, Terry Pettit
went back to the bench and sat down, believing his dream was basically over. The girls, with quite a bit of time left in the time-out, went back to the court while the other team was still in their huddle. Play finally resumed, and Nebraska scored the eighth point. Then they got the ninth, and the tenth. You could feel something changing. They got the eleventh and twelfth points, so they were behind by only one. Then they pulled to a tie, and eventually won the game. Nebraska went on to become national champions. That’s the power released through unconditional love. And it’s what Jesus wants to do for you. He loves you. You can’t make yourself good enough to deserve it, but if you simply accept it, it will change your future. ALM 97 Describe a time when you experienced unconditional love, and explain how it changed you or your circumstances. Daily Reading: Leviticus 13:1-16:28, Mark 6:17:23, Psalm 39:1-40:17, Proverbs 10:10-14
For Your Small Group
Describe a time when you experienced conditional love, and explain how it affected your ability to perform.
❏❏ February 18–24: Read aloud the devotional on this page, “Unconditional Love.”
Daily Reading: Leviticus 11:1-12:8, Mark 5:2143, Psalm 38:1-22, Proverbs 10:8-9
•• Why were Coach Pettit’s words of love so powerful?
•• What would a coach usually say to his team in this situation?
•• Who has demonstrated unconditional love to you?
Monday—February 25 • The Lure of Accumulating Wealth People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:9–10
A man went to a Bank of America and picked up a deposit slip, on which he wrote: This iz a stickup, put all your muny in the bag. Then he got in a long line. As he waited, he grew nervous. So he left and crossed the street to a Wells Fargo Bank. He waited in line again, and when he reached the teller, he presented the note. The teller, deducing that he might not be all that bright, said to him, “I’m sorry sir. You’ve made your request on a Bank of America slip. You can either rewrite your note on a Wells Fargo Bank deposit slip, or go back across the street.” The man left, the teller called the police. The would-be robber was arrested, waiting in a line back
over at the Bank of America. Many of us will laugh at this silly (but true) story. But if we dare to look deeply enough, we may find that we also make choices fueled by a desire for wealth. It won’t be this obvious, but it may be just as foolish. “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,” Paul cautioned. We should all take note. :MIMBS 7 Describe one thing you have ardently pursued in the last year. Does it have eternal value? Or is it merely a temporary benefit? Daily Reading: Leviticus 16:29-18:30, Mark 7:24-8:10, Psalm 41:1-13, Proverbs 10:15-16
Tuesday—February 26 • Rethinking Abundance Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless. As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them? . . . I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners. Ecclesiastes 5:10–13
A fellow once told me, “I wanted to experience more abundance in my life, so I poured myself into my work. I thought if I could just make more money, it would satisfy the need. At the end of three years, I realized I had completely shut out all of my friends. I was making all kinds of money, but I had no life.” He added, “When I really looked at it, I realized three things: 1) The right answer was simple; 2) I already knew it; 3) I did the wrong thing anyway.” So often, we really do know the right course of action, and yet we choose the opposite. Scripture warns repeatedly that wealth in itself does not satisfy. Rather than filling our emptiness, it usually creates a greater
sense of barrenness by making us crave more. Many centuries ago, Augustine explained that God made us for Himself. Thus, he wrote, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” We need to rethink our definition of abundance. Temporal wealth will never satisfy the innate desire for eternal, unlimited fellowship with our Creator. :MIMBS 7 Have you been pursuing wealth in the hopes that it would make you happy? Do you believe that ultimately money will not make you happier? Discuss this with some brothers. Daily Reading: Leviticus 19:1-20:21, Mark 8:1138, Psalm 42:1-11, Proverbs 10:17
Wednesday—February 27 • An Unexpected Answer
When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:23–25 A moral young man asked Jesus about eternal life. Jesus told him, “Sell your stuff, give the proceeds to the poor, and follow me.” Apparently this fellow expected a different answer, and he “became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth.” I can relate to this story. I had a plan for my life. Then I became a Christian and found that God had a plan for my life. I liked both plans, and somehow, I thought I could mesh them. I spent the first 20 years of my Christian life working and praying to acquire more and more real estate. In hindsight, what I was pursuing would have destroyed me. I asked God for things I desired. When I
didn’t get the answer I expected, I became sad. In hindsight, though, what I thought was a great disappointment was actually a doorway into true abundance. God’s system is perfectly designed to produce abundant life. In His grace, He often moves to keep us from destroying ourselves in pursuit of things that will never truly satisfy. :MIMBS 7 Describe a time when God gave you an answer you did not expect. How long ago was that? How did you respond then? How do you feel about it now? Daily Reading: Leviticus 20:22-22:16, Mark 9:129, Psalm 43:1-5, Proverbs 10:18
Thursday—February 28 • God’s Plan for Abundance Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” Luke 18:29–30
When the rich young man came to Jesus, He told him to sell his possessions, give away the proceeds and follow Him. Apparently the man couldn’t bring himself to do that, for Jesus exclaimed, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:24). In response, Jesus’ disciple said, “We’ve left everything behind to follow you!” Jesus promised an abundant return for their investment. Jesus isn’t requiring all of His followers to abandon homes and families. Rather, He is establishing a principle for anyone who wants to follow Him. Sacrifice and selfdenial yield abundant blessings. If you are willing to obediently follow Christ, denying yourself of anything that would distract from His plan and purpose, you’ll receive
blessing that outweighs your sacrifice. This is a hard perspective for us to take, especially when we can’t see the immediate benefit. Trusting God for His eventual blessing is a matter of faith. :MIMBS 7 What things in your life are distracting you from God’s plan and purpose? What would it look like for you to deny yourself? Daily Reading: Leviticus 22:17-23:44, Mark 9:30-10:12, Psalm 44:1-8, Proverbs 10:19
Friday/Saturday/Sunday—March 1, 2, 3 Abundance and Suffering
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions— and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Mark 10:29–31 Matthew, Mark and Luke all record the story of the rich young man who came to Jesus, asking about eternal life. When the man couldn’t give up wealth to pursue God’s Kingdom, Peter reminded Jesus that he and the other disciples had given up everything. Jesus responded that anyone who practices self-denial for the sake of God’s Kingdom will receive abundant blessings. Then, in this account in Mark, Jesus adds that some persecutions will accompany the blessings. I believe God is good. But that doesn’t mean that pain doesn’t hurt. A Christian can get cancer, just like a non-Christian can. That’s part of living in a world marred by sin’s corruption. Think of it this way: water is full of oxygen—but not just oxygen. Water also is full of hydrogen. In a similar way, the Bible tells us the earth is full of God’s glory (Isaiah 6:3), but the world also is full of pain and suffering. Tom Skinner was one of
my closest friends. He was a strong believer. For eighteen years, we did all kinds of interesting things in ministry. In the 1970s, his wife decided she wanted a divorce. In the 1980s, he endured tremendous financial failure. Then in the 1990s, he died suddenly of leukemia. Many of us won’t suffer the exact things that Tom encountered, but all of us can expect some trouble mixed in with our abundant blessings. The reality, though, is that if you truly know Jesus, you can experience the blessings of joy and peace even in the midst of suffering, because you know your pain is temporary. :MIMBS 7 Have you ever had someone ask, “If God is so good and powerful, how come terrible things happen to people?” Have you asked this question yourself? How does this devotion help you respond? Daily Reading: Leviticus 24:1– Numbers 1:54, Mark 10:11:26, Psalm 44:9-46:11, Proverbs 10:20-23
For Your Small Group
❏❏ February 25—March 3: Ask someone in the group to briefly retell the story of Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens’ story, “The Christmas Carol.” •• How did Scrooge’s visits, to the past, present and future, change his mind about wealth and abundance? Why is that story so compelling? •• What is the difference between abundance as the world defines it and the abundant life described in the Bible? •• What are you pursuing—abundance or the abundant life?
Monday—March 4 • Dealing with Anxiety Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6–7
The first quarter of 2002 roughed me up pretty well. Recession knocked down a number of our major donors. As our primary fundraiser, I worked twice as hard with half the results. I postponed several major projects—I simply didn’t have time to do everything. When summer came, I was thin—thin on patience, energy and faith. We also were thin on cash. I was doing all my regular spiritual disciplines. I felt closer than ever to Jesus. As an eternal optimist, I even had faith things would work out. I also felt desperate. Here is an entry from my journal: “Just because I feel desperate doesn’t mean I am. What do feelings have to do with
anything? Have they ever been correct in the past, except by accident?” The message is simple—don’t deny your feelings, but don’t automatically accept the information they give you. Don’t stuff your feelings, thinking they are “not Christian.” But remember, it’s easy to look at correct data and still come to a wrong conclusion. Present your requests to God, and let His peace guard you. ALM 25 What one thing brings you the most anxiety? What practical steps can you take to present that to God, and to accept his peace? Daily Reading: Numbers 2:1-3:51, Mark 11:2712:17, Psalm 47:1-9, Proverbs 10:24-25
Tuesday—March 5 • I Don’t Need This! I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12–13
Several years ago I was sitting in my backyard before dawn. God had poured one blessing after another on my relationships with Jesus, family and friends. He had blessed my ministry, finances, and health. I looked into the starry night, praised God, and said in a moment of exuberance, “God, I don’t need any of this. All I need is You.” And I really meant it. What followed was a sixmonth test of excruciating proportions. Then one day, I thought back to that morning, remembering what I had said about all those blessings. Then I considered the current slough of troubles. I laughed
out loud and said of my problems, “Lord, I don’t need any of this. All I need is You.” Here’s how I expressed it in my journal: “Why should I only tell God that I don’t need His blessings to be happy? Why not also tell Him that I don’t need His testing to trust Him completely?” The message is simple—He really is all we need. ALM 25 When is it easier to know that God is all you need—when you have plenty, or when you are in want? Explain your answer to some other men. Daily Reading: Numbers 4:1-5:31, Mark 12:18-37, Psalm 48:1-14, Proverbs 10:26
Wednesday—March 6 • Has God Failed Me?
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:5–6 In 2002, I could not see any way to make our first June payroll. I was clinging to Christ and His Word, especially passages like Philippians 4:19: “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” We needed $35,000 in two business days. To be honest, I felt like God had failed me. I wrote in my journal, “I will not believe . . . my experience. I will believe your Word.” On Mondays our administrator gives me a weekly financial report. On June 3, the report showed a negative balance in the account for payroll and bills amounting to $2,309. Our administrator did not know I
had received a check for $5,000, so our balance was actually plus $2,691. It’s okay to “feel” like God has failed you. Get honest with Him, and then let the Holy Spirit work out the situation. Bill Bright used to say, “Faith is like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the bigger it gets.” My faith has grown through troubles in ways it never would have grown through blessings. ALM 25 Describe a time when you felt God had failed you. What was the final result? Daily Reading: Numbers 6:1-7:89, Mark 12:3813:13, Psalm 49:1-20, Proverbs 10:27-28
Thursday—March 7 • Living By Biblical Priorities There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. Proverbs 14:12
Once we invited Bill Walton, co-founder of Holiday Inn who experienced a late-inlife conversion, to speak at an outreach dinner. As it happened, our Bible study was meeting the next morning, so I invited Mr. Walton to go with me. After the study, about eight men, ages 30-45, each spent two or three minutes describing their spiritual journey. I noticed Mr. Walton, a father of four, becoming more and more fidgety. Finally it was his turn to speak. “It is true that I helped build a great corporation,” he said. “But to do so, I arrived at the office every morning by seven and rarely got home before ten o’clock at night.” His brow furrowed, his shoulders drooped, and his lip quivered as he added, “I never saw a single little league baseball game.” He paused and stared sadly into our faces as though he could see the future. He took
a deep breath to gather himself. Then, with trembling fists and a booming voice, the room rattled as he roared, “I exhort you young men. Learn to live by biblical priorities!” ALM 25 List the three things that are most important to you. Are they biblical priorities? Are you missing anything that you shouldn’t be missing?
Friday/Saturday/Sunday—March 8, 9, 10 Priorities Guide Our Decisions Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1
Men often fail because they don’t manage their priorities. The dictionary defines “priority” as something to which we give precedence because of its urgency or importance. To “prioritize” means to arrange in order of importance. Priorities, then, are “pre-decisions.” We decide in advance the things to which we will give ourselves. Priorities become a grid to help us distinguish opportunity from distraction. When we set priorities in advance, it reduces the pressure we feel when we must make decisions under fire. One morning, after a tiring night, Jesus wanted to have some time to Himself. But Scripture tells us, “At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for Him and when they came to where He was, they tried to keep Him from leaving them. But He said, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent’” (Luke 4:42-43). Notice three things: •• People tried to keep Jesus from leaving. Perhaps they appealed to His compassion. In this life, you will find that the better job you do, the more people will ask of you. Without intending to, people will ask you to do things
that meet their needs, but don’t necessarily match your priorities. •• Jesus knew His purpose, and that determined His priorities. He did not let the emotion of the moment cloud His judgment. Since He decided in advance what He would do, He was not distracted. •• Jesus did what He was called to do. He chose the best over the good. Every man must take personal responsibility for his private life and set priorities in five areas: his relationship with God, his relationship with his wife, his relationship with his children, his finances, and his health (including leisure and rest). No one else can or will do this for you. Also, a man must set priorities for his work and his personal ministry. From Jesus’ example, we glean one important rule for priority living: make decisions on the basis of your priorities, not your pressures. ALM 25 In the five areas listed above, what areas would you like to move to a higher level? Describe what changes you will make, and what you will give up to make it happen. Daily Reading: Numbers 10:1-15:16, Mark 14:172, Psalm 51:1-53:6, Proverbs 10:31-11:4
For Your Small Group
❏❏ March 4–10: Read aloud this definition of priority—“something given special attention.” •• What were your father’s priorities? How do you know those were his priorities?
Daily Reading: Numbers 8:1-9:23, Mark 13:1437, Psalm 50:1-23, Proverbs 10:29-30
•• What would your children or friends say are your priorities? •• From a Biblical standpoint, what should your priorities be?
Monday—March 11 • The Desire to Serve God Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10
No man I have ever known has been more faithful about ministering to men than Owen. For 23 years he has led a Monday Bible study. He has helped start several new churches. And yet, Owen is not employed by a church or ministry. He leases commercial real estate for a living. We don’t need to be in occupational ministry to serve God. Only about 1 percent of all Christians are called to that task. Most of us will minister through our jobs, in our families, through church involvement, and in community activities. Like Owen, most Christian men, regardless of their occupation, have the desire to serve God.
When a man begins to understand how radically the grace, mercy and kindness of God has healed his life, he’ll naturally want to respond by serving others. Guilt may motivate us to begin a personal ministry, but gratitude keeps us going. We are called to be agents of the kingdom who bring life where there is death, light where there is darkness, and hope where there is despair. ALM 13 In the last month, what impact have you had for Christ? Talk to the men in your group about the ways you can serve God even if you aren’t in occupational ministry. Daily Reading: Numbers 15:17-16:40, Mark 15:1-47, Psalm 54:1-7, Proverbs 11:5-6
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. Romans 12:6 Once the fire to serve the Lord starts to burn in a man’s heart, he bumps up against some obvious questions. The Bible offers a firm base upon which to build your own personal calling. •• God Wants Each of Us To Bear Much Fruit: “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8). In fact, fruit proves we are His disciples. •• The Ultimate Purpose of Our Service Is To Bring Glory To God: “. . . so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11). •• The Earthly Purpose Of Our Calling Is To Faithfully Serve Others: “Each one should use whatever gift he has
received to serve others” (1 Peter 4:10). •• To Bear Fruit, God Gives Each of Us Different Spiritual Gifts: Spiritual gifts are unique spiritual abilities given by God to help us serve Him. •• We Each Serve God As Part of a Larger Body: It’s important to be a part of what God is doing in the world. All of us working together form a beautiful mosaic of loving service. ALM 13 Memorize John 15:8. Meditate on this verse. Is there much fruit in your life? Are you showing yourself to be His disciple? Daily Reading: Numbers 19:1-20:29, Luke 1:125, Psalm 56:1-13, Proverbs 11:8
Thursday—March 14 • Family Matters Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25
Tuesday—March 12 • What Is a Personal Ministry? For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Ephesians 2:10
God has a particular task for each of us— one that is based on our spiritual gifts and our position in the body of Christ. Our two principle duties are redemptive tasks “to build the kingdom” (Matthew 28:18-20) and cultural tasks “to tend the culture” (Genesis 1:28). For most of us, more than 80 percent of our time will be spent tending the culture through our work, civic duties, and community life. We may have an opportunity to share our faith on the job, but we can all demonstrate the reality and relevance of Jesus through the way we work. If you’re a waiter, every customer is an occasion to demonstrate the character of
Wednesday—March 13 • What the Bible Says About Service
Jesus Christ. If you’re a salesman, every appointment is holy; every sale is sacred. If you’re a manager, every conflict between two employees presents an opportunity to model the love of Christ. St. Francis of Assisi put it this way: “Go into all the world, preach the gospel and, if necessary, use words.” ALM 13
There are six areas where we can develop a personal ministry: in the family, in the local church, at work, in the community, across the cultures, and to the world. But the most important of these is the first one—family. Family has to be our first and top priority in ministry. Here are some ideas to make yours effective: Pray before all meals. Have a 15-minute devotion three or four days
a week. Pray for your family daily, as you may be the only person in the whole world willing to pray for them on a regular basis. After God, but before all others—including your children—make your wife your top priority. It’s of little value to win the world if we lose our own homes in the process. If you don’t have enough time for your wife and children, you can be 100 percent certain you are not following God’s will for your life. ALM 13
How are you doing in your redemptive and cultural tasks? Pray and ask God to help you see opportunities for impact during your routine activities today.
Take stock of how much time you spend at work, at play, and in ministry. At what priority do you place your wife and family? Based on today’s lesson, are you in God’s will?
Daily Reading: Numbers 16:41-18:32, Mark 16:1-20, Psalm 55:1-23, Proverbs 11:7
Daily Reading: Numbers 21:1-22:20, Luke 1:2656, Psalm 57:1-11, Proverbs 11:9-11
Friday/Saturday/Sunday—March 15, 16, 17 • A Personal Ministry This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit. John 15:8 Our primary ministerial calling is to our families. But there are five other areas of ministry available to us for service. •• In the Local Church. Most people will find the outlet for their spiritual gifts in the church. Ask a pastor or lay leader to help you find a place of service where you can use the gifts that God has given you. •• At Work. You don’t have to wear your faith like an outer garment (but you can). Be sensitive for opportunities to care for people. Be excellent. People will decide if Christianity is true or not based upon how you work when you think no one is looking. Francis Schaeffer said, “If you do your work well you will have a chance to speak.” •• In the Community. Use your imagination. Start a community-wide annual prayer breakfast. Consider becoming foster parents. Dedicate your home to Christ and open it up for a Bible study group. Organize a neighborhood Christmas party at which you give your personal testimony. •• Across Culture. Get to know a person of different racial, ethnic or cultural background. Invite that person to breakfast, lunch, or coffee once a week for three weeks. Share where each of you are on your spiritual pilgrimage. Learn about
each other’s families, work and interests. If you are making progress, keep meeting. •• To the World. Have a missionary family stay at your home. Pray for missionaries using a globe. Write missionaries and support them financially. Send care packages for their children’s birthdays. Take a mission trip if you can. It is good to walk among the poor, to see their hunger for God, to feel the weight of their conditions and become sensitive to them personally. It’s a real eye-opener. If you don’t have a personal ministry, or you’re not satisfied with the one you have, take some bold steps. Make some phone calls. Visit your pastor. Drop by and visit the shelter for the homeless. Put some effort into finding the place where you can have an effective personal ministry. Henry Blackaby has said it well: “Find out where God is working and join Him there.” ALM 13 Is your life bearing fruit? If you don’t have a personal ministry, talk to your pastor this week about how you can develop one. Daily Reading: Numbers 22:21-26:51, Luke 1:57-2:52, Psalm 58:1-60:12, Proverbs 11:12-15
For Your Small Group
❏❏ March 11–17: From the devotional, “What the Bible says About Service” (page 49), what are the five things you learned about your calling? •• Share a time when serving gave you great joy. Where did that joy come from? (God, those you served, those who were serving with you, etc.) •• How do you grow in your faith through serving?
Monday—March 18 • Simple, Yet Deep
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans 15:4 Someone has said the Bible is like a unique body of water, providing an environment where infants can wade and elephants can swim. In essence, that just means the themes of Scripture are so simple that a child can grasp them, and yet so profound that no scholar has ever been able to plum the full depths offered by God’s Word. When I started working in ministry, I would ask myself what men need. I would come up with long lists. Now I’ve been ministering to men for a few decades, and my list has become shorter and shorter. In essence, I now believe men have three primary spiritual needs that affect all of life. They need to know God’s character, His
salvation, and His plan for discipleship. Interestingly enough, those three issues permeate all of Scripture. Certainly, they aren’t the only themes of the Bible. But it shows that the Bible does have the answers to all of life’s deepest questions—you just have to look. :MIMBS 8 What are some of the themes of the Bible that you can think of? Try and cite specific examples of each theme. Get some brothers to do the same and compare. Daily Reading: Numbers 26:52-28:15, Luke 3:122, Psalm 61:1-8, Proverbs 11:16-17
Tuesday—March 19 • The God We Want vs. The God Who Is Then the Saducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him (Jesus) with a question . . . Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?” Mark 12:18–24 When I was a young businessman, I knew where I wanted to go and what I wanted to accomplish. Then I became a Christian. My life started changing somewhat, but my overall goals remained the same. My Christianity was getting a different result than what I saw in other guys I knew. So I called a “time out” to discover where I was off base. One day I was reading Matthew 13:22, which talks about seed falling among thorns being like a man who hears God’s Word, but the worries of life and the deceitfulness of
money make the seed unfruitful. In contemplating that Scripture, I realized that I was trying to fit God into my own little box. From beginning to end, Scripture helps us truly understand God’s true character and nature. I’ve discovered there is a God we want, and then there is a God who is. They aren’t necessarily the same God. The turning point comes when we stop seeking the God we want, and we start seeking the God who is. :MIMBS 8 What are some differences between what we want God to be and what He actually is? How might that change the way you read Scripture or pray? Daily Reading: Numbers 28:16-29:40, Luke 3:23-38, Psalm 62:1-12, Proverbs 11:18-19
Wednesday—March 20 • Don’t Neglect God’s Word
Friday/Saturday/Sunday—March, 22, 23, 24 •
I rejoice in following your statues as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. Psalm 119:14–16 A few years ago I wrote a piece about the relationship between our prayers and God’s Sovereignty. A man wrote me an email asking questions about it, so I redirected him to another resource. I had addressed the topic with more detail in a book, so I suggested he read that. He emailed again about issues that were clearly covered in the resources I already provided. I found myself wondering, “What is this guy’s problem? Did he just not read the book?” After all, if he had read the book, he would know that what he was saying simply could not be true. Sometimes I wonder what God’s reaction is when we keep mulling over the same issues without examining Scripture to see what He has to say about them. We need to be serious about not trying to fit God
into our ways of thinking, and instead commit to investing time and energy in discovering who He really is. The best place to start is by reading the Bible. :MIMBS 8 Have you ever seen a man struggle with an issue that you think the Scriptures are clear about? What kind of issues, and what was the truth that the Bible revealed about it? Daily Reading: Numbers 30:1-31:54, Luke 4:130, Psalm 63:1-11, Proverbs 11:20-21
Thursday—March 21 • God’s Plan for Salvation Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30–31
Mother Theresa testified that, when Jesus called her, He said, “I am thirsty for love, and I am thirsty for souls.” The entirety of Scripture speaks to God’s plan for our salvation. It’s described through the covenants of the Old Testament, through the line of the Messiah. God was working, even from “the foundation of the world,” to create a way for us to embrace eternal life, through His Son (see Revelation 13:8). He desires His people to come to Him. Today’s passage says Scripture was recorded so we could believe on Jesus and have life in His name. One primary theme of Scripture is God’s plan to bring us to
salvation, for now and for eternity. The wise man Solomon told us that life without God is meaningless. Many of us have found that to be true. But life with God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (see Romans 14:17) and it lasts forever and ever. :MIMBS 8 Can you see the story of God’s desire for people to be saved throughout Scripture? What are some stories from the Old Testament that illustrate this? Daily Reading: Numbers 32:1-33:39, Luke 4:315:11, Psalm 64:1-10, Proverbs 11:22
. . . from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:15–17 A Christian speaker noted that God can’t drive a parked car. He intends for us to be moving toward a purpose. And that purpose has to do with His Kingdom. Paul says Scripture can make us wise to salvation, and it also carries God’s plan for our discipleship. Put simply, that means God has a plan for our lives here on earth. Once we’ve come to know Him through salvation, He trains and equips us, and He gives us a mission. So many people miss that part. They come to know Christ, but they still make decisions as if life is all about them. Certainly, God intends to bless His children. But Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t just for us—it was for everyone. Today’s Scripture reveals a three-part plan for our discipleship: 1) calling; 2) equipping; 3) sending. Calling simply means that God invites you into relationship with Him. Equipping means He prepares you as you study, pray, and pursue other disciplines. Sending means He has a plan to take the Gospel through the whole world.
He does that by sending His followers to encounter those who haven’t yet responded to the Gospel. After His resurrection, Jesus told His first disciples, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21). I’m amazed at the number of men who feel like they’re not making a difference. If you want your life to count, then do something to make a difference. Jesus has already expressed God’s plan that you will be sent, even as He was sent. If you know Jesus, you’re part of His plan to bring everything into conformity with His will and purpose. :MIMBS 8 Do you feel called, equipped AND sent? Are you moving forward to fulfill the calling God has placed on your life? Daily Reading: Numbers 33:40- Deuteronomy 3:29, Luke 5:12-6:38, Psalm 65:1-67:7, Proverbs 11:23-27
For Your Small Group
❏❏ March 18—24: From the devotional for March 22–24, the three-part plan for our discipleship is: Calling, Equipping, and Sending. •• What does Calling look like? •• What does Equipping look like? •• What does Sending look like?
Monday—March 25 • Do You Know Who I Am?
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created... Colossians 1:15–16a How many stories have you heard of a selfimportant person deciding that he or she doesn’t need to abide by the rules us “regular folk” have to follow? There usually ensues some sort of confrontation with an authority figure that often culminates in the question, “Do you know who I am?” As we enter Holy Week—the days preceding the celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection— we should be thankful that Jesus didn’t have the attitude that His identity somehow precluded Him from the task His Father had given Him. In fact, He understood that His identity is what made Him uniquely qualified.
What about you? Do you know who Christ is? Paul gives us a thorough review of Jesus’ identity in Colossians 1:15-23. It’s a good reminder for us as we realize not only what the sacrifice was that was made for us on Good Friday, but who the sacrifice was made by. Paul says, “All things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” That’s who Jesus is. —Brett Clemmer Read Colossians 1:15-23. Why would the Creator of all things be willing die for you? Daily Readings: Deuteronomy 4:1-49, Luke 6:39-7:10, Psalm 68:1-18, Proverbs 11:28
Tuesday—March 26 • Zombie Alert! And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. Colossians 1:18
I recently read about a disaster preparedness drill that a local government was running. They wanted to make sure that they had all the equipment, personnel and communications ready in case of a disaster. The incident they were preparing for, however, wasn’t a weather event or a plane crash or train derailment. It was zombies. Seriously. Jesus is not a zombie. He didn’t emerge from the tomb as anything less than what He was when He died on the cross. He was not reanimated or reincarnated. His death and resurrection was an example for us. Like Jesus, we will also rise from the dead, unless we’re still around when He comes back. After the resurrection, Jesus walked around, talking to His disciples, teaching
and performing miracles. There was something different about Him—they didn’t recognize Him at first glance—but it was Jesus, the one and only. Likewise, we will be given bodies and be able to do all the things we did before, but better. Without sin, disease or anxiety. Maybe even unbound from physical laws. Jesus was the beginning, showing us what is to come. —Brett Clemmer Discuss your views on what life is like after death with some brothers. What are some common misconceptions? What does the Bible say about it? Daily Readings: Deuteronomy 5:1-6:25, Luke 7:11-35, Psalm 68:19-35, Proverbs 11:29-31
Wednesday—March 27 • Peace with God For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:19–20
“Jesus was a great teacher. A moral man. A great example of the kind of person we should all aspire to be.” You’ve heard these arguments, right? Many people don’t want to attack Jesus directly; they just want to make Him something less than He was. Jesus is God. That’s what Paul means when he says, “God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him.” Jesus was full of God. And since the debt of our sin— death—is owed to God, it was only God that could forgive that debt. Forgiveness isn’t just forgetting something, it’s paying the price for it oneself. If I
Thursday—March 28 •
forgive a debt someone owes me, I don’t get the money. I “pay” for my forgiveness by choosing that I will go without the amount in question rather than the one who owes me. This is the mechanism of our peace with God. He forgives our debt by paying the price Himself, through Christ. —Brett Clemmer What difference does it make if Jesus was truly God or not? What would you say to someone who tells you that Jesus was “a great man?” Daily Readings: Deuteronomy 7:1-8:20, Luke 7:36-8:3, Psalm 69:1-18, Proverbs 12:1
Established and Firm
But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. Colossians 1:22–23a Another common claim that skeptics explain away Jesus’ resurrection is to say that He never really died. He merely passed out from the pain and was interred in the tomb alive. His disciples or followers, the theory goes, came in the night and rescued Him, nursing Him back to health. Paul puts this to rest firmly—Christ’s physical body died. But that’s not the end of the story. His death allowed us to be reconciled with God. Because of that, He now presents us to Himself as unblemished by sin, free even from someone accusing us of doing wrong. Christ did His part—He came to earth, lived a sinless life, suffered a brutal execution on the cross and rose from the dead. He did this all very publicly, so that there
would be no grounds for the flimsy excuses people use to doubt Him. Our part? Continue in our faith. Keep our hope in Jesus, instead of ourselves. We are not called, you will notice, to live perfectly. We can’t! This is the essence of the Gospel— it’s not about we are, but who Jesus is. It’s not what we do; it’s what Christ did. —Brett Clemmer What do you see people placing their hope in around you? Is your faith “established and firm?” What would help you stand firm in your faith? Daily Readings: Deuteronomy 9:1-10:22, Luke 8:4-21, Psalm 69:19-36, Proverbs 12:2-3
Friday/Saturday/Sunday—March 29, 30, 31 The Only Response That Makes Sense This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. Colossians 1:23b
On Good Friday, Jesus was crucified on the cross. He was beaten, carried the instrument of His execution along a path to a hill outside of town, nailed to it, and propped up in front of anyone who wanted to watch Him die. He was mocked by soldiers, the crowd, and another condemned man dying beside Him. When He begged for water, He was given vinegar. To make sure He was dead, He was stabbed. Just
before nightfall, His body was taken down by some of His followers and placed in the tomb one of them had bought for Himself. On the second day, He laid in the tomb, His Spirit doing battle with the forces of darkness. His followers were scared and went into hiding. His mother was mourning her firstborn son’s unjust and brutal death. She saw it happen. She was there as He hung on the cross. On the third day, He rose again.
Beaten. Mocked. Executed. Dead. Buried. Mourned. And then, Alive. As S.M. Lochridge said in his now famous sermon, “That’s My King!” (Check it out on YouTube.) He is a King who sacrificed everything that His subjects might live forever. He is a King who endured brutality on our behalf, went to war with the power of sin and death and defeated it just for those He created and calls to Himself. He is a King of such acclaim that Paul says the good news about Him—the Gospel—has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. Paul became His servant. Of course he did. Paul understood exactly who Jesus was and what he did. When we come to this understanding, we will become His servants also. Not out of fear or obligation, but because when you know the truth about Jesus, it is the only response that makes sense. He is risen! Indeed. —Brett Clemmer Is Jesus your king? Before you answer too quickly, is He really your king? In what ways are you not living in light of His resurrection and current reign over the universe? What might help you change? Daily Reading: Deuteronomy 11:1-17:20, Luke 8:22-9:27, Psalm 70:1-72:20, Proverbs 12:4-9
For Your Small Group
❏❏ March 25—31 As you celebrate Holy Week, think about the person of Jesus Christ. •• What are some “myths” you have heard about who Jesus was? Who do you say he is? •• Would it be enough if Jesus was just a moral man or an excellent teacher? •• How do you respond to people who claim Jesus was not the Messiah, the Son of God?
Balancing Your Life Starts With Setting Your Priorities continued from page 5
Most men in the church will understand and agree with these first four priorities. But often I see men who want to keep an area of their life for themselves. They think, “I go to church, read my Bible, love my wife and kids and bring home a paycheck. I need something for me.” And they go off in pursuit of a hobby.
Kids Here’s a great truth: keeping God and my wife as my top two priorities is the best foundation there is for helping my kids develop their own relationship with God. As a father, raising my kids to know, love and follow Christ is my next priority. My kids will learn a lot about what a relationship with God looks like by observing mine. My determination to study Scripture, take my family to church and invest in the lives of other Christians gives them an example to follow. In addition, I look for those teaching opportunities—just like my own dad did—to share my faith with my kids and challenge theirs. Ultimately, kids have to make their faith their own. I went through a time of questioning; I’m prepared for my kids to do the same. Badgering or lecturing them about God will only serve to drive them away (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21). I trust that God will pursue my kids, just as He did with me. In the meantime, I’m trying to show them what a Godly man looks like, so they will want to emulate me (in the case of my son) or want to marry a man with similar attributes (my daughter).
My Job No matter what you do for a living, it is important to do it to the best of your ability. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Christian employees should never be seen as giving less than their best at work (assuming you are not being asked to compromise your Christian beliefs). Car salesmen should endeavor to be the number one salesman in the dealership—and honestly, as if doing it for God. A factory worker should have a reputation as conscientious and excellent at his work. A policeman as the most determined to see justice done, while maintaining kindness and compassion. Work with excellence. Earn your wages. If you are out of a job, your job is to find one—do it with all due diligence. Remember God’s words to Joshua: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
There’s nothing wrong with a hobby. I have one myself: rock climbing. I love to climb in our local gym and at outdoor boulders and cliffs. But it’s easy for us as men to let our hobby (or hobbies) get out of proportion to the rest of our priorities. This is where having a sense of your calling comes in. I’m called to reach and disciple men. It’s how God wired me. He gave me a son to disciple, a church with tons of spiritually hungry guys, and a job that allows me to not only disciple men but train and equip others to do the same. And guess what? He gave me a hobby that also gives me an opportunity to disciple men. The majority of climbers I spend time with are non-believing men looking to make sense of life. I’ve had great conversations with these guys about spiritual things as we sit around a campfire or at the gym. And, by God’s grace, I get to climb as well! So have a hobby, but look for how God might use that hobby to help you fulfill his calling on your life.
Are Your Priorities in Order? If you dare, ask your wife and a friend or two to tell you what they would say your priorities are. Compare them with what you think they are—or should be. Ask for specific feedback and don’t get defensive. Just listen and maybe take some notes. Then—and this is done best with another guy or maybe in your small group—sit down with a 3x5 card and pen, and write down what the priorities that you want to live your life by. Take some time in prayer and look up some Scripture of your own to back up each priority. Make a list of what you need to do to make each item a true priority in your life, and perhaps, make a list of things you need to change.
My Priority List
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5
If you want to live your life well, you can only focus on a few things. Set your priorities and live your life by them. This is the path to a balanced and fruitful life. And it’s the path to true Godly manhood.
• Brett Clemmer
Brett Clemmer is Vice President of Leadership Development with Man in the Mirror. He is the co-author with Patrick Morley and David Delk of No Man Left Behind: How to Build and Sustain a Thriving Disciple-Making Ministry for Every Man in Your Church. Brett and his wife, Kimberly, live in Casselberry, Florida, and have two children, Cassidy and Jackson.
Reason #23 To Come To Awesome Workshops!
At each Man in the Mirror Summit, we strive to equip and encourage men for their particular ministry to men. Our breakout sessions are one of the ways we accomplish that goal. We’ve invited top-notch presenters to share their knowledge and expertise. All of our presenters will share lessons learned on the frontlines of discipleship. And you’ll take home tools and tips that you can use as soon as you get back to your own church and ministry.
MoMents together for IntIMacy 30 days of devotionals for married couples to read together that focuses on emotional, spiritual and sexual intimacy. Reading the selections together allows busy couples a purposeful means of spending quality time together to improve their communication and produce a greater sense of closeness. The result is restoration of romance, trust, and true intimacy.
You’ll see they’re organized into tracks to help you plan your itinerary. Here is a breakdown of the workshops as they were scheduled when we went to press: Searles
Key Issues Men Face:
ūū Balancing Work & Ministry—Dave Wertheim ūū Dare to Care—A Men’s Guide to Helping the Hurting— Andy Searles ūū From the Apple to the Internet: Dealing with Temptation— Brett Clemmer ūū Help Your Men Get a Grip on Their Finances—Howard Dayton
Men’s Discipleship That Works:
This spring, Books! By the Box gives you 2 opportunities to reach everyone in your church, neighborhood and workplace. Reach couples on Valentine’s Day and visitors on easter with books for less than $2 each.
ūū Beyond “All-Inclusive”—An Interdisciplinary Approach— Pat Morley ūū How to Cultivate Relationships with Pastors— Panel Discussion ūū Leading Life-Changing Small Groups—Dave Wertheim ūū Implementing a JBM Challenge in your Church— Roddey Roberts
Reaching Every Man:
ūū A Man After God’s Own Heart—Charles Cooper ūū Reaching and Discipling Leaders in Your Church— Pete Alwinson ūū Reaching Men From Every Generation– Joel Fiscus ūū Reaching Men on the Fringe—Jeff Kisiah ūū The State of Men in America—David Delk
Spiritual Growth for Men and Women: Delk
ūū Balancing Life: Balancing Work & Ministry—Dave Wertheim ūū Craving Grace Like Chocolate—Ruthie Delk ūū The Differences Between Men and Women—Brett Clemmer ūū Understanding Your Mate—Jeff and Candie Kisiah And more! Please join us at
—The 2013 Man in the Mirror Summit February 28-March 2 in Orlando, Florida maninthemirror.org
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“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." —1 Corinthians 9:24
Run the Race Together! Order a Bulk Subscription of Equipping the Man in the Mirror for the Small Groups in your church! Daily devotionals, Bible readings, small group discussion questions and more!
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