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Don’t settle

for mediocre faith.

Table of Contents October/November/December 2011

Featured Articles

q First Things First by David Delk. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 q What's a Man, Anyway? by David Delk. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 q The Surge—Operation 330 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 q Man Alive—A Preview of Pat's New Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 q Great Books + Incredible Value = Excellent Resource. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 q Sounds Great . . . But Does It Work? by Brett Clemmer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 q Be Part of a Revolution—Journey to Biblical Manhood by David Delk. . . . . . 58

Resource Tools

q Resource Catalog. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 q Equipping Your Men’s Small Group. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 q How to Use This Devotional. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

Devotions

q October 2011 Devotions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 q November 2011 Devotions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 q December 2011 Devotions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

Be sure to check out special devotions written by Rich Gerberding on pages 34-36. Rich Gerberding is a Man in the Mirror Field trainer and the ministry director for Men of AIM (Action, Integrity, Maturity) in Central Illinois, a regional men's ministry—www.MenofAIM.org. His most important ministry is to his wife, April, and 11-year-old son, Jordan. Available speaking topics include Resist the BAIT, Avoid the Trap featuring Somebody's Daughter (Music for the Soul), and Vegetables of the Spirit: The Bible's Forgotten Fruit. 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 www.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 www.maninthemirror.org/archives/categories. :MIMBS 1—How Do I Surrender? :MIMBS 2—Who is God? :MIMBS 3—What Does God Do? :MIMBS 4—What Assurance Do I Have That I Will Be Okay? :MIMBS 5—The Monumental Task of Accepting You

:MIMBS 6—What are the Problems that Christianity Solves? :MIMBS 7—What is the Key to Peace and Happiness :MIMBS 8—Being Found Out :MIMBS 9—How Can We Have More Faith? :MIMBS10—A Man and Prayer :MIMBS 11—The Birth of Jesus :MIMBS 12—Unmet Goals

Equipping the Man in the Mirror: October/November/December 2011, Vol. 6, No. 4 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, Ruth Ford and Stephanie Lopez Office: 180 Wilshire Blvd., Casselberry, Florida 32707 Phone: 800-929-2536 • Fax: 407-331-7839 • Web site: www.maninthemirror.org Copyright © 2011 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. www.WaterBrookMultnomah.com

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.

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First Things First

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by David Delk

Do you have your fall game plan?

Create

Capture

Plan your Fall Men's retreat now!

Save $100 or more when you schedule your fall event by September 30th.

 8 dyna mic m to choose en’s events from (1/3 of the attendee s commit or recomm their lives it to Christ) .  You ca n teach it yourself— we can pr or ovide the facilitato r.  Events are design ed to “break-eve n” financia lly.  Life Pla ns (a 6-w eek follow Bible stud -up y) include d.  Pre-eve nt trainin g manual included.

Sustain

Earlier this year, Man in the Mirror celebrated the ministry’s 25th Anniversary. It’s gratifying to realize that what started out as a group of men meeting for Bible Study has become an international ministry reaching thousands of men every week through the Internet, leadership training, church events, books and resources. But, frankly, it’s not enough. We want to see every church disciple every man. The fact is that thousands of churches have no idea how to reach, inspire, evangelize, grow, encourage and deploy their men to build Christ’s Kingdom. They are We are not looking for 300 allowing their men to simply good men. We are looking go through the motions, and as a result, men are often leading for God to call 300 of His shallow, defeated lives. best men to the cause and

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During the 25th anniversary task of men’s discipleship. activities, Bruce Wilkinson, founder of Walk Thru the Bible and bestselling author (including Prayer of Jabez), met with a group of our board members and senior staff. When we shared this with him he asked, “Well, what would it take for these churches to reach their men more effectively?” We’ve been talking about this for a decade: what we need is “boots on the ground.” Dr. Wilkinson challenged us to stop talking about it and put it into action. His challenge: Recruit one man for every 1,000 churches in America. Build a field force to serve every local church. How can a small staff in small offices in a small suburb outside Orlando build a staff of over 300 men around the country? You can’t, Dr. Wilkinson assured us. But God can. And He is.

We are not looking for 300 good men. We are looking for God to call 300 of His best men to the cause and task of men’s discipleship. We will train, equip and deploy them into territories of 1,000 churches each. Imagine the Kingdom impact of every new church that makes men’s discipleship their Portal Priority. (In fact, we know some of the impact. Check out the article, Sounds Good…But Does It Work? on page 32). I challenge you to pray and ask the Lord if this is what He has for you. It’s not for everyone. It will be hard—perhaps harder than any other career choice you could make. It will often feel lonely and maybe even futile. But if God is calling you, we will help you make it happen. Go to www.maninthemirror.org or call us at the office for more information and to start the process. Until every church disciples every man,

Call Jim or Pam at 800-929-2536 www.maninthemirror.orG

David Delk President, Man in the Mirror (For more information about the challenge before us, see the article called "The Surge— Operation 330" on page 7.)

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What’s a Man, Anyway?

Sensitive Man—This image tells men that they need to connect with people emotionally (especially women) and talk about their feelings. Tears are good—tears over a good book with some wine and cheese are even better.

by David Delk

I recently met a young man who had a remarkable story. After briefly attending college, he joined the military and served for five years. Now he is out and has landed his first civilian job. Yet it was obvious in talking to him that he has had almost no male role models who could show him what it meant to be a real man. His dad was not really involved in his life and his mom, while well-meaning, had trouble providing emotionally, economically, and spiritually. So here he sits, in his midtwenties, wondering what a man really is and how to become one. You might be thinking, “What’s so remarkable about that?” The remarkable thing is that his story is not remarkable at all.

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The Bible clearly demonstrates that real manhood is grounded not in cultural expectations and norms, but rather in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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We’ve created a culture where what should have been the exception—young men drifting through life without mentors, training, or direction—has instead become the norm. There are literally millions of men in America just like my new friend. And as a country we are reaping the devastation that follows. Consider how confusing our culture is for young men today. They see lots of caricatures of manhood paraded before them. And each one is subtly held up as a standard to live by. Do you recognize any of these manly archetypes? Success Man—This image promises that the key to happiness is getting your act together and doing well in every area of your life. Get a great job, drive a nice car, marry a beautiful woman—then you will be a real man. Macho Man—In some versions of manhood, men have to be able to handle anything and everything. Nothing is too difficult for a real man—just grit your teeth and bear it. And don’t let anyone disrespect you. Real men are willing to do anything to preserve their reputation. Outdoors Man—This perspective says that men today are too tame and timid. Real men hunt things and then eat their bloody hearts. The more you can be in the woods or on the water, and the more dangerous the activity, then the more that you will become a true man.

Bumbling Man—It doesn’t take seeing many commercials or sitcoms to realize that men are incompetent and incapable. They can’t shop, cook, take care of the kids, or remember birthdays and anniversaries. But it’s okay because they are kind of cute and everything works out in the end. Family Man—This idea emphasizes that real men are committed to their wife and kids. They don’t have time for themselves; they’re too busy carting their children across town from one activity to the next. Whatever their kids want need, they get. Religious Man—Men need to be committed to their churches and do what their pastors tell them to do. Playing by the rules is the most important thing in life. Being a man of integrity who is respected by others is the definition of success. Sports Man—Real manhood is derived from watching and, occasionally, playing sports. Being a loyal fan—even when your team stinks year after year—is a badge of honor. Real men spend tons of time arguing over and cheering for other guys that are actually doing something. I’m sure some of those seem familiar to you, and you could probably add a few more. No wonder men are so confused.

True Manhood The Bible clearly demonstrates that real manhood is grounded not in cultural expectations and norms, but rather in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Without the gospel, all of us are broken shells of what we should be. No matter what we pursue to satisfy our hearts, outside of the gospel it will never be enough. But through the gospel Jesus changes everything. When a man finds himself forgiven and healed in Christ, he is then free to pursue manhood not from need or duty or obligation, but rather as an overflow of God has made him to be. I recently had a chance to take my fifteen year-old son on a special trip. We went to ride roller coasters at Cedar Point. As part of our experience, I wanted to emphasize for him some aspects of biblical manhood. I thought it was fitting to use the acronym F. L. I. P. continued on page 60

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Not sure of your next move?  Get equipped with the vision and strategy to disciple every man in your church.

The Surge—Operation 330

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Man in the Mirror is rolling out The Journey to Biblical Manhood, a comprehensive and flexible system that equips church leaders to reach and disciple all the men in their church. (See page 58 for more information.) An integral part of our strategy is the role of Area Directors, trained staff on the ground in communities who are able to work with local church leadership teams to help them disciple men. For several years we’ve been praying, planning, and testing how to put “boots on the ground” to consult, train, and equip churches to more effectively disciple their men. Are you a man who loves working with other men and helping them grow in Christ? Do you enjoy supporting, training and encouraging leaders? Are you passionate about the local church? This may be a great opportunity for you.

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What Will an Area Director Do? Area Directors will connect with pastors and local church leadership teams to help them reach and disciple men. Their primary role will be to help these churches implement The Journey to Biblical Manhood. They will also provide training, resources, consulting, and connections to other leaders. The near term goal for an Area Director, once trained, will be to develop relationships with 100 churches in his territory that result in an average of 30-40 new disciples per church in the first three years.

No Man Left Behind 

Three Ways to Train Your Leaders

Conference. This is the premier training: 2½ days of teaching, planning, discussion, and consultation that will revolutionize your ministry to men. Essentials/Practicum. Designed to be done sequentially over a year, these events deliver the Conference content to your team as two 1½ day courses. The Essentials is comprehensive training; the Practicum is an intense consultative and planning experience. Courseware. This video-based training allows your team to absorb the NMLB curriculum at your own pace and is divided into two manageable DVD courses:  Foundations and Methods & Tactics.

Find an event near you or watch a free session of the Courseware at our website. Visit www.maninthemirror.org and click on Get Trained. For more information, call our Ministry Consultants at 800.929.2536 or 407.472.2100.

What Makes a Good Area Director? In addition to a commitment to the church and a passion for discipling men, here are the attributes that sum up the kind of men we believe will be highly successful Area Directors: 1. C  learly evidence a consistent and growing walk with the Lord (Deut. 10:12; Joshua 22:5; 2 Cor. 5:7; Gal. 5:25; Eph. 4:1) 2. Clearly and effectively sets direction, objectives, and success measures 3. Self-starter; able to proactively and effectively work on his own 4. D  emonstrates an uncanny ability to communicate ideas and generate enthusiasm in others 5. P  ossesses professional presence and poise; conveys credibility and commands attention; maintains a positive attitude, even under stress 6. T echnologically proficient—able to adapt to new technology and leverage it to advance ministry 7. H  is decisions and actions consistently reflect biblical principles and the core values of Man in the Mirror 8. Committed to mission, vision, and values of Man in the Mirror 9. Willingness to raise personal support Our plan is to mobilize 330 Area Directors to help 33,000 churches to disciple 1,000,000 new men by 2015, and 10,000,000 new men by 2020. That’s one Area Director for every 1,000 churches. Interested? Is God calling you to a new challenge in your life? Go to www.maninthemirror.org to learn more about how God might use you to start a revolution among men in your community for His glory.

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Get Your Church On the Journey

Challenge One: The Essentials of Biblical Manhood Every challenge comes with Faith & Life Objectives and an Assessment for your men. Take men on a 3-step challenge!

Step 1—Create Momentum Host an event for your men like Success That Matters Seminar. Topics include: • • • •

F inding the Purpose of Your LIfe Finding Respect and Honor at Home Finding a New Best Friend in Your Wife Finding a Deeper Personal Relationship with God

Step 2—Capture Momentum Get men in groups of 6 to 8 for six-week discussion groups. This fill in the blank workbook is excellent for men at any stage in their spiritual journey; it is particularly attractive to men how who may have never been involved in a Bible Study before. Topics include: The Rat Race, An Unexamined Life, The Goal of a Father, and Living by Priorities. The whole event was great, but the part about wives was most needed. I'm leaving here with a greater desire than ever to please the Lord, and love my wife and children in a new way. —Steve A. recent attendee

Step 3—Sustain Momentum Engage men in longer term discipleship with a book study. The Man in the Mirror: Everywhere you go you see men who are frustrated from trying to win the rat race that nobody wins. Is there hope? Absolutely. The Man in the Mirror reveals how to live with the pressure and stress of everyday life.

You'll get everything you need for a successful event, including planning tools, time lines, and promotional materials. All tested in 1,000 churches over the last decade!

The content and the facilitator were excellent. I would highly recommend this to my friends. —Clyde G. Marietta, GA

For more information, call (800) 929-2536, or go to www.maninthemirror.org/store.

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1-800-929-2536 • www.maninthemirror.org/store

Seven Seasons of the Man in the Mirror: Patrick Morley presents hard-won perspectives on the seasons of Reflection, Building, Crisis, Renewal, Rebuilding, Suffering, and Success. With candor and passion, he speaks to issues every man must face. He illustrates them with true, modern-life stories, and he presents meaty questions for men to chew on.

Get your men on the Journey to Biblical Manhood! Call today to get started. 1-800-929-2536 • www.maninthemirror.org/store

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Man Alive

Transforming Your 7 Primal Needs into a Powerful Spiritual Life

By Dr. Patrick Morley .

My new book, Man Alive, will hit the shelves on January 17, 2012. Here’s a preview… Over the last four decades I’ve met one-on-one with thousands of men. These men know that Jesus promised, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10). They also know that they were created to lead powerful lives transformed by Christ. But most of the men I meet are confused about what that looks like. In fact, I’d estimate that 90% of men lead lukewarm, often defeated lives—and they hate it. Their instincts are screaming, “There must be more.” The stakes are high. When a man fails, the collateral damage is staggering. A man leaves, a woman weeps herself to sleep, a little girl prays, “God, why is my daddy always so angry?” When men try to put into words what keeps them from feeling fully alive—what’s holding them back—they invariably describe one or more of these seven “symptoms:” 44“I just feel like I am in this thing all alone.” 44“I don’t feel like God cares about me personally—not really.” 44“I don’t feel like my life has a purpose—it seems random.” 44“I have a lot of destructive behaviors that keep dragging me down.” 44“My soul feels dry.” 44“My most important relationships are not working.” 44“I don’t feel like I’m doing anything that will make a difference and leave

the world a better place.” Do you feel the angst? These inner “aches and pains” correspond to seven deeply felt, primal needs. By “primal” I mean that as men we each have a raw, restless energy that’s different from women. It needs to be channeled…chiseled…transformed. Man Alive will show a man how God has provided for him to transform that restless, primal energy he feels into a powerful spiritual life. Each chapter will flesh out how a man can satisfy one of his seven primal needs: to not feel alone, to believe that God really cares, to understand his purpose, to stop repeating destructive behaviors, to experience communion with God, to have healthy relationships, and to make a difference. We’ll explore how it feels when it’s not going right, what makes it so hard, and what to do about it. No man should have to settle for half alive. It is the destiny of every Christian man to lead a powerful life transformed by Christ—not without ongoing opposition, but equipped and trained with resources to become the man God created him to be. I promise you: Man Alive scratches where men itch. I’d appreciate your prayers for all the last-minute details—there are lots of them! And also that God will supernaturally put this book into the hands of the men who need it.

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Equipping Your Men’s Small Group

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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:

ur week to use ast one hour of yo le at od G en iv ✔✔G ses. however He choo this week. Bible every day of e th g in ad re to ✔✔Committed er and Sustainer. Creator, Redeem ur yo as od G ed ✔✔Prais has been ur Heavenly Father yo at th es tim e ✔✔Recalled th things of life. the big and little in u yo to ul hf it fa ed in the spiritual group to be involv ur yo r fo ay w a ✔✔Chosen mbers. grow th of your me that allow for s of relationships ait tr e th d ne mi ✔✔Exa countability. vulnerability and ac tems” the world of the various “sys s lie e th ed os xp E ✔✔ proposes. od who is of serving the G ce en er ff di e th ✔✔Looked at od we want. instead of the G good. ur failures for your yo ed us od G n ✔✔Shared times whe ren about ren or grandchild ild ch ur yo to er tt ✔✔Written a le you’ve learned. the faith lessons ers and the your family memb of ch ea r fo ed ✔✔Interced cing in life. issues they are fa e faith of young mas Story and th ist hr C e th d se ✔✔Discus Joseph. life of ming year on the co e th of ct pa im ✔✔Prayed for the oup member. each and every gr Continued on page 12

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Small Group Guide continued from page 11

q 10/1-10/9: In this week’s devotions, you’ll focus in on what it means to fully surrender and commit yourself to the Lord. SAS (Suggested Application Step): Imagine that you fully surrendered your week’s time and schedule to the Lord. Spend a few minutes discussing what that would look like. Throughout this next week, give God at least 1 hour and allow Him to use you in the lives of your family, coworkers or neighbors. Come back next week ready to share how that hour was used.

q 11/21-11/27: This week’s devotionals address the issue of serving the God we want vs. serving the God who is. SAS: Make two headings on a whiteboard with “The God we want” and “The God who is” as titles. Ask the men to list characteristics for each heading. Discuss the benefits of serving the God who is instead of the God we want.

q 10/17-10/23: In this week of devotions you’ll learn

about God as our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. SAS: On a large piece of paper or whiteboard, list those three words that describe God. List some ways you’ve seen God at work in your own life under those three categories. Spend a few minutes in prayer giving God praise for the ways He has been your Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.

successes work together for your good. SAS: Name some men who have enjoyed great success or faced tremendous failure. Did some of those men face both success and failure? What do you think of as your greatest successes or failures? Share a time when a failure was used for your good.

q 12/5-12/11: This week you’ll see how important faith is

to our walk with God. SAS: Throughout this next week, think about what you’d like your children or grandchildren to know about faith. Begin to write a letter to them about what you’ve learned about faith and your spiritual journey. Come back next week ready to share part of that letter with the group.

q 12/12-12/18: Our devotional theme for the week is about experiencing true

communion with God through prayer. SAS: During this week, spend some time in prayer with God. Pray for your individual family members by name and lift up the needs they are facing. Let each member know that you are praying for those needs. Write those needs down and see how God answers your prayer. Share part of your letter from last week’s Action Step.

q 10/24-10/30: Our devotional theme this week shows us how our Heavenly Father takes interest in and cares about us through the big and little issues of life. SAS: What are some big issues you’ve tried to take on by yourself? How about some little issues? Share some times that God has seen you through some little issues of life and big issues of life. Allow these experiences to become pillars of your faith.

q 10/31-11/6: This week your men will gain spiritual insights regarding

our responsibility toward believers in all phases of maturity. SAS: Recall a time when you experienced spiritual growth. How did you recognize that or what did that look like? Are there ways we can help in one another’s spiritual maturity? Make a list of those suggestions. Which of those ways would we like to commit to doing with and for each other?

q 11/7-11/13: This week you will learn about developing strate-

gies to avoid some of the pitfalls of life. SAS: Spend a few minutes discussing how your small group can help one another avoid the B.A.I.T. of life. What kind of relationships do you need to have with one another to help with the traps that life can bring? Name some attributes of a friendship that allows for that kind of vulnerability and accountability. Give your group a letter grade on how you're doing in these areas.

q 11/14-11/20: This week you’ll look at three struggles men face: 1) Something

they can give their life to. 2) Someone to share it with. 3) A System that explains why the first two problems are so difficult to solve. SAS: On a whiteboard or flip chart, make a list of the various “systems” people use to explain how life works. Give some examples for each system, and show the fallacy of each one from Scripture.

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Serving the God Who Is

q 11/28-12/4: These devotions remind you that all of your failures and

q 10/10-10/16: These devotions teach you about the treasure we are given through the Bible, God’s written word. SAS: If you already have a Bible reading plan, continue with that. If you don’t have a regular Bible reading plan, commit to reading His Word every day this week. If you need a place to start, try the book of John. From last week, how did God use that hour of free time?

Serving the God We Want

q 12/19-12/25: These devotions help you focus on the miracle of Christmas

and the part that Joseph played in God’s plan and the life of Christ. SAS: Go to youtube.com and find “Joseph’s Song” by Michael Card. Watch or listen to the song together as a group. Discuss the difficult choices that Joseph made as young man. What can you learn from Joseph?

q 12/26-12/31: These devotions teach you how to your handle goals— both met and unmet goals. SAS: Share with one another the three goals for 2012 you made at the end of this week’s devotionals. Have each man write down another man’s goals to pray for throughout the next year. Spend time in prayer for whatever the next year may hold for each group member and for the faith and strength to handle all of the events and changes to come in 2012.

Use Equipping the Man in the Mirror for Your Small Group

•• Start with the group discussion questions at the end of each week of devotions. •• Use these two pages (12 and 13) to dig deeper with your small group. •• For more resources, look on page 29 for great books to read and study.

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How to Use This Devotional

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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).

Completion checkbox

Source material

Correlating Scripture

Discussion/journal questions

One-year Bible daily reading

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Saturday, Sunday—October 1, 2  •  Autumn Changes But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. Jeremiah 17:7 NLT

October is one of those months that Floridians greet with great enthusiasm. After our long, hot summers and highpriced energy bills, we are ready for the cooler temperatures that allow us to spend lots of time outside. Of course, we don’t get the beautiful fall colors of the northeast, but it is a great time of year to enjoy Florida. Each year we are ready for the change. Life is filled with change. Switching from July in Florida to October in Florida is a great and welcome change. And sometimes we have change like this in our lives— a new job, a big raise, a new child or grandchild. But there are also other changes that aren’t so welcome: caring for an aging parent, sending our last child

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off to college, facing unemployment or bankruptcy, and losing our health or our spouse. These kinds of changes are much more difficult to embrace. And yet who is the Lord of change? Dealing with change requires trust. We trust that the blessing or the challenge of change is for our good and comes from God who loves us and will see us through. God can be trusted with all the changes your life brings. How well do you handle changes in your life? Do you view them as an opportunity or a curse? What determines your perspective? Daily Reading: Isaiah 62:6-66:24, Philippians 2:19-3:21, Psalm 73:1-74:23, Proverbs 24:13-16

Monday—October 3  •  How Do We Resist God? And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

I love the analogy that describes the kingdom of God as a ship at sea headed to a distant port; its pilot is Jesus, and He knows exactly how to get to His destination. Everybody on the ship will make port. It is a rescue ship, and all along the way there are people in the water drowning. Jesus is the only One who can save them. We are on the ship and He’s given us free passage. We all can work to help save others from drowning, but sometimes we resist. We think the ship is going too slow, or in the wrong direction. Maybe we resist the role given to us and want a different one.

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A few years ago I found myself resisting God. I was hosting a leadership seminar, and there was a lull in registrations. I kept thinking about how we could do better marketing. Finally I came to my senses and said, “That’s it. God already knows what He wants to do. And if it’s not a sellout, what’s the big deal?” By resisting and trying to make things happen, I lost the sense of His presence. MIMBS 1 How do you resist God in your life? What can you do to change that? Share your thoughts with some other men. Daily Reading: Jeremiah 1:1-2:30, Philippians 4:1-23, Psalm 75:1-10, Proverbs 24:17-20

Tuesday—October 4  •  Not Good Enough He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Romans 4:25

I was in the process of selling a vintage car. I was talking with a man on the phone who I had spoken to more than once, and I was trying to close the conversation quickly. Before he hung up he said, “Say a little prayer for me.” That led to a long conversation. He had just bought a copy of The Man in the Mirror, and he was desperately searching for God. He was terribly abused by his mother as a young boy. He said, “I am mentally ill; my brain cracked. My mind was shattered into a million little pieces. I professed Christ at a young age, but it doesn’t work for me.” He was so filled with shame that he didn’t feel good enough to be on the ship. He was

resisting God out of his own shame. Of course, none of us will ever be good enough; that is the whole purpose of grace. We won’t measure up. But thanks to Jesus, and His death and resurrection, we can all experience the rewards of being God’s children, just as if we were good enough. MIMBS 1 Do you ever feel that you are not good enough for God’s work? What scriptures can help you overcome those feelings? Ask God to remove any resistance to His callings and plans for your life. Daily Reading: Jeremiah 2:31-4:18, Colossians 1:1-17, Psalm 76:1-12, Proverbs 24:21-22

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Wednesday—October 5  •  How Do We Surrender?

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And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 1 John 3:23 The essence of resisting God is relying on our own goodness—I’m not good enough so God can’t use me—or our own planning—God is not moving fast enough for me. Either way, the fellowship with God is broken. The way we get back is through surrender, and the way we surrender is obedience. It is obedience to the commands of our great God, who says simply, “Believe in Jesus and love one another; love God; love other people.” Augustine was so bold that he went to the extreme and said, “Love God, and do what you want.” The order of these phrases is critical. If we come to this place where we really do love God with the totality of our being and every ounce of our energy, then we will obey, and we will have fellowship with God. I invite you to pray this prayer: “God, I want my fellowship back. I want that sense of the immediacy of Your presence. I pray

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for whatever it takes for me to be in right relationship with You. Help me rely on You completely.” MIMBS 1 Are you willing to surrender and ask God to do whatever it takes to stay in God’s plans? If not, what’s holding you back? If you are, pray with another man today. Daily Reading: Jeremiah 4:19-6:15, Colossians 1:182:7, Psalm 77:1-20, Proverbs 24:23-25

Thursday—October 6  •  Increasing Surrender

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. Psalm 143:10 Where do you find yourself today? Are you relying on yourself or on God? Or are you vacillating between? On this side of heaven, that’s going to happen. The question is how can we increasingly live a surrendered life under the Lordship of Jesus? The Bible says the flesh is in conflict with the Spirit and the Spirit is in conflict with the flesh so you do not do what you want to do (Romans 7:14–25). You’ve probably heard this story before. One guy says, “I feel like I’ve got these two dogs fighting inside of me.” Then the other guy says, “Well which one is winning?” And the first guy replies, “The one I feed the most.”

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Feed the Lordship of Jesus and try to starve off the other things. Be fed through His Word, prayer, worship and fellowship with other believers. Allow the Holy Spirit to comfort, convict, and encourage you. That is the way to increase surrender in your life. MIMBS 1 In what ways are you feeding your life of surrender, and what ways are you feeding your own will? How can you surrender more of your heart to the Lord? Daily Reading: Jeremiah 6:16-8:7, Colossians 2:8-23, Psalm 78:1-31, Proverbs 24:26

Friday, Saturday, Sunday—October 7, 8, 9 What Happens When We Surrender?

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. John 15:1–2 When we have fellowship with God, we feel His Spirit working in our life. I prayed the prayer, “Lord, whatever it takes to be in right relationship with You, do it.” If you’ve only been out of right relationship with God for a few minutes then it probably won’t take long to get back in right relationship. If you have been out for months or years it might take a little while longer. But through repentance and surrender, your heart’s desires will line up with God’s. It’s like charging a car battery. If it has enough power to turn the car over but not enough to actually start, then you can use jumper cables to start the car and by the end of a short drive, the battery will be charged. But if the battery has been dead for a while, it will be hard to jumpstart the car and will take a long time to recharge. Will you ask the Lord to do whatever it takes to get back in a good relationship with Him? You won’t be calling

down legions of pain and suffering; you are actually asking for grace. Don’t be afraid to surrender to Him; He is longing for you to be close to Him. And that’s what your heart longs for as well. John 15 shows that God prunes— literally, “cleans”—every branch that does not produce fruit. Your experience may involve some pruning, but better to be pruned now than later. The Bible also tells us that when we do obey, we begin to produce fruit. Every one that does produce fruit He prunes so it will be more fruitful. It’s a blessing to be pruned. You will get cut one way or the other. You may as well get cut for the right reason. Lord, do whatever it takes! MIMBS 1 In what ways has God worked in your life to prune that which is not fruitful? Have you seen your life become even more fruitful because of this? Share your thoughts with another man. Daily Reading: Jeremiah 8:8-14:10, Colossians 3:1-4:18, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-2:8, Psalm 78:3279:13, Proverbs 24:27-34

For Your Small Group

❏❏ For October 1–9: Ask the men in your group to name three things they learned this week about surrender. •• What is the difference between spiritual surrender and wartime surrender? •• What areas of your life have been the most difficult to give over or surrender to God? •• Have the new insights you’ve gained about surrendering made it any easier to trust God with those areas?

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Monday—October 10  •  He Came for You and Me When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:16–17

I once had the opportunity to sit in a skybox for an NBA game. There was only one elevator for 26 skyboxes, so on leaving we waited in a long line. Finally we entered the elevator, walked to the back and turned around. A flood of people followed, including a group of over-achievers, mostly 30-something, all of them good looking, and carrying the world’s aroma. As it turned out, the elevator was overloaded, and the attendant said someone had to get off. The ensuing discussion was filled with oversensitivity and hostility until someone finally volunteered to leave the elevator. I remember my heart breaking as I

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thought, “What is their God? What are they looking for?” Clearly, they were posing. That’s the kind of group mentioned in today’s scripture. Oversensitive to their own status, they challenged Jesus on the company He kept. But Jesus’ reply, “I haven’t come to call the righteous, but sinners,” reveals a lot about God’s heart for people. MIMBS 2 When you’re in “close quarters” with very worldly people, do you respond more like the Pharisees, or more like Jesus? Explain your answer. Daily Reading: Jeremiah 14:11-16:15, 1 Thessalonians 2:9-3:13, Psalm 80:1-19, Proverbs 25:1-5

Tuesday—October 11  •  A Personal Savior Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 1 Timothy 1:15

Several years ago, my son helped me set up a home theater. I read an advertisement saying I could purchase a home entertainment center for $395. That started the quest, but by the time we finished, the system cost a lot more than that. I had lots of wonderful components, and each one came with its own manual. I could turn everything on, but until I read the manuals, I was basically helpless. I had all this equipment and no knowledge how to connect or use it. In a similar way, people without Christ are helpless because they haven’t read the manual. They don’t know about our God who is bigger and better

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than anything or anyone else. They don’t know that He is holy, awesome, sovereign, almighty, infinite, and wise. Yet God is not distant from us or them. He doesn’t hammer them for their ignorance. Instead, He is a personal savior who is always seeking and saving sinners. MIMBS 2 Has God ever seemed too complicated for you to understand, or too awesome to believe that He cares for you personally? Do you see that in other believers you know? Share these experiences with some brothers. Daily Reading: Jeremiah 16:16-18:23, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-5:3, Psalm 81:116, Proverbs 25:6-8

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Wednesday—October 12  •  The God of Creation By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Hebrews 11:3

Albert Einstein was easily the greatest theoretical physicist of the 20th century. His theories of relativity smashed the previous paradigm that had stood for 200 years. But Einstein spent his last 30 years working unsuccessfully to unify two great theories— one explaining gravitation and applying it to large structures in the universe like stars and galaxies, and one explaining how things work in the subatomic world. He called this the Unified Field Theory. Some people call it the Theory of Everything. In recent years, scientists have furthered this by hypothesizing something called Superstring Theory, which works in a theoretical 10-dimensional world. Our world only has four dimensions—height, width, depth, and the time/space continuum. Steven Hawking has said that within the next two decades or so, he believes

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there is a 50/50 chance that someone will accomplish the mathematics necessary to complete this theory. If so, it may in part explain how creation happened. But so what? The process is not as important as the cause. The “Who caused it?” and “Why was it caused?” questions are much more fundamentally important than “How did it happen?” For those types of answers, you must look to the God who reveals Himself in Scripture. It’s not theory. MIMBS 2 How would you talk to someone who thought science gave ultimate answers about reality? How has our culture’s faith in science affected you? Daily Reading: Jeremiah 19:1-21:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:4-28, Psalm 82:1-8, Proverbs 25:9-10

Thursday—October 13  •  Everyone Worships Something  . . . don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:3–4

G. K. Chesterton, a prolific English Christian writer of the 19th and 20th centuries, once said, “Whenever a man knocks on the door of a brothel, he is looking for God.” Every single person that has ever lived has given his life to something or someone. God created every individual for the purpose of worship, but some of us simply choose to worship the wrong things. In their original state, God created Adam and Eve with the ability to sin. After they succumbed to the serpent’s temptation, they took mankind into a state where, on our own, we are not able to avoid sinning, because sin is woven into our nature. It’s only through Christ that we receive the

power to defeat temptation. So when we judge the morality of those who don’t even know Jesus, we are displaying our own arrogance. People don’t bind themselves to strongholds like drugs, alcohol and sex because they want to do that. They’re looking for God—they’re simply looking in the wrong places. MIMBS 2 If someone was simply looking at your life, would they be able to guess who or what you worship? What would give them that impression? Daily Reading: Jeremiah 22:1-23:20, 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12, Psalm 83:1-18, Proverbs 25:11-14

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Friday, Saturday, Sunday—October 14, 15, 16  •  Unashamed

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For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes . . .  Romans 1:16 In a book on holiness, Ralph Martin tells of an English traveler who came to the U.S. for a visit. While in America, he was accompanied by a Native American who was always talking about Jesus. Finally, the Englishman asked his companion, “Why do you make so much of this Jesus?” The Native American man didn’t reply immediately. He simply gathered some leaves and moss and arranged them in a small circle. Then he found a worm and put it in the middle of the circle. Then he set fire to the leaves and moss. The Englishman and the Native American watched the worm struggle to escape. The flames grew bigger and more intense, and the worm still could not find a way out, so it crawled to the center of the circle, rolled up in a ball of agony, and waited to die. At that moment, the Native American reached into the circle, picked up the little worm, and placed it on his chest next to his

heart. Looking at the Englishman, he said, “Stranger, the reason I talk so much about Jesus is that I was that little worm. I was helpless, hopeless, and in certain danger of unquenchable fire. It was Jesus, the arm of His power that reached down. It was the hand of Jesus that plucked me from the unquenchable fire. So, stranger, that is the reason I talk so much about Jesus. Because of what He has done for me, I love Him, and I am not ashamed.” Remembering who we were without Jesus helps release us from a hesitancy in sharing the Gospel. It reminds us of who God is, and it also helps us remember the plight of those who don’t yet know our Lord. MIMBS 2 How has your experience with Jesus prepared you to share His love with others? Daily Reading: Jeremiah 23:21-28:32, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17, 1 Timothy 1:1-20, Psalm 84:1-86:17, Proverbs 25:15-17

For Your Small Group

❏❏ For October 10–16: Have someone read the devotional, “A Personal Savior” from Tuesday, October 11. •• What was God’s purpose in giving us the Bible? •• Why is the Bible so important to our spiritual growth? •• What could have happened to Christianity without God’s Word?

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Monday—October 17  •  Understanding God’s Ways “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

Several years ago, I was working on my motorcycle. While I was hard at work, polishing it and preparing it for Bike Week, a workman came up to me and said, “You know, I’ve been thinking about getting a motorcycle. What’s the big deal about a Harley? What does a Harley do that other motorcycles won’t do?” A wave of pity swept over me, because in the Harley world, we have this saying: “If I have to explain it, you wouldn’t understand.” When you’re dealing with questions about God, though, it’s a different story. The actions of our daily lives often grow from what we really believe about who God is and what He does. Yet, most of us don’t

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come to understand who God is through intuition. Usually it requires explanation, and sometimes it also requires time. In fact, I believe some of the really big ideas about Christianity take 10 to 20 years to really take root in a person’s life. God’s purposes are so much higher and broader than ours; we will never understand them without explanation and revelation. MIMBS 3 Describe something that God has done in your life that would require explanation to another person. What’s something that has taken you 10 or 20 years to really learn? Daily Reading: Jeremiah 30:1-31:26, 1 Timothy 2:1-15, Psalm 87:1-7, Proverbs 25:18-19

Tuesday—October 18  •  Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16–17

The big picture of God’s activity can be summed up in three words: He creates, redeems and sustains. He does this on a large scale for the entire universe. He also does this on a smaller scale, for each of us as individuals. Many of Jesus’ parables portrayed God as a farmer. In one story, He scatters seed. In another, He waters and tends young plants. Another shows Him deciding how to deal with weeds growing side-by-side with His precious plants. Elsewhere you see Him pruning grapevines to increase the harvest. Then you see Him choosing people to help

with the harvest. In a very personal way, Jesus painted a picture of a personal, hands-on God who is in the business of creating, redeeming and sustaining a harvest of holy people for Himself, and for eternity. And in all of that, He is motivated by love. Not only are we part of the harvest, but we also get to help bring others in as well. MIMBS 3 How have you seen God as Creator? How have you seen Him as Redeemer? How have you seen Him as Sustainer? Daily Reading: Jeremiah 31:2732:44, 1 Timothy 3:1-16, Psalm 88:1-18, Proverbs 25:20-22

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Wednesday—October 19  •  God’s Motivation

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Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:9–11 Alice Gray relates the story of a bouncy, five-year-old girl named Jenny. While shopping with her Mom, Jenny noticed a string of fake pearls. She did extra chores to earn the two dollars to buy them. She loved her “pearls,” and she wore them just about 24/7. One evening, after he read her a bedtime story, Jenny’s daddy asked, “Jenny, do you love me?” “Oh, Daddy,” she said. “You know I love you!” “Well, then,” he said, “will you give me your pearls?” Jenny offered other alternatives, but she

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could not give up her pearls. This continued for several nights until finally, with tears running down her face, Jenny surrendered her pearls to her daddy. With one hand, he put her old pearls in his pocket. With his other hand, he held out a box with a new string of pearls, only these were real. That’s a picture of what God desires for us. He wants to give us good gifts, but we sometimes have difficulty surrendering the lesser things we already hold in our hands. MIMBS 3 Are you hanging on to something lesser when God wants to give you something greater? Reflect on this with a brother or two. Daily Reading: Jeremiah 33:1-34:22, 1 Timothy 4:1-16, Psalm 89:1-13, Proverbs 25:23-24

Thursday—October 20  •  God Likes You Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

The Bible describes God as a great Father who wants to give us good gifts. Often we settle for less than what God wants to give us because we cannot bring ourselves to yield to Him. C. S. Lewis once said, “The problem is not that we desire too much. The problem is that we desire too little.” Almost 10 years ago, I had an experience that helped me understand God’s motivation for giving gifts. My mom was dying of cancer that had metastasized through her whole body. My brother Bill, a quiet man, had moved in with my mom and dad to help care for her. One day on the phone, Mom told me about the incredible conversations she was having with my brother.

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She said, “I always knew Bill loved me, but I never really thought he liked me. You know, I think he really does—he likes me.” It’s like that with God. Sometimes His love can seem abstract and impersonal. Are you willing to let God grip your heart with that reality? He doesn’t just love you, but He really likes you, too. MIMBS 3 I used to work with a woman who said, “God is an optimist about me.” What would it mean if God were an optimist about you? Daily Reading: Jeremiah 35:1-36:32, 1 Timothy 5:1-25, Psalm 89:14-37, Proverbs 25:25-27

The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. . . . One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27:1–2, 4 In the movie We Were Soldiers, Colonel Moore takes his team into one of the fiercest battles of Vietnam. Intelligence had grossly underestimated the capacity and size of the North Vietnamese Regulars. After a fight lasting several days, the U.S. soldiers are finally overrun. In the movie, Mel Gibson, playing Colonel Moore, turns to his radio operator and tells him, “Call in broken arrow.” The radioman begins broadcasting, “Broken arrow, broken arrow. I repeat, broken arrow.” Strategic command is mobilized, and in the movie, you see jet fighters taking off from the decks of aircraft carriers. You see planes and helicopters of all types converging on this one location, responding to the desperate code word. The movie is based on a book called We Were Soldiers Once and Young, by Lt. General Harold Moore. The book quotes Joseph Galloway, the radio operator shown in the movie. He explained, “I used the code word broken arrow, and we received all available aircraft in South Vietnam for close air support. We had aircraft stacked at thousand foot intervals from 7,000 feet to 35,000 feet, each waiting to receive a target and deliver their

ordinance.” That was a turning point for them. In a similar way, God’s resources are available to support you. When you join Him, He doesn’t leave anyone behind. Perhaps this can be a turning point for you as well. What do you need from God today? Do you need a blessing? Do you need relief or deliverance from something? Do you need to surrender and let go? God wants you to grasp how much He loves you, and how much He likes you. Ask Him for the resources you need. MIMBS 3 Let’s pray together: Father, would you be kind to me today and release my spirit and mind, my reason and faith, to be able to grasp the truth of Your Word? Would you be kind enough to allow me to believe this, and to experience the joy and freedom that comes from knowing that You love me, and You like me? In Jesus’ name, Amen. Daily Reading: Jeremiah 37:1-44:23, 1 Timothy 6:1-2:21, Psalm 89:38-93:5, Proverbs 25:28-26:5

For Your Small Group

❏❏ For October 17–23: From the devotional for Tuesday, October 18, review the three words that sum up God’s activities: Create, Redeem and Sustain. •• What are examples of these three activities in Scripture? •• What are some examples from others’ lives that you have seen? •• What are some examples of these three activities from your own life?

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Monday—October 24  •  He is the Victory Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

In 2 Chronicles 13, a war breaks out between Abijah, the King of Judah and Jeroboam, the King of Israel. Abijah led 400,000 select warriors, while Jeroboam mustered 800,000 troops from Israel. At one point, the Israelites ambushed Judah and had them surrounded. Abijah was surprised to find his 400,000 troups flanked by the huge number of soldiers from Judah. Outnumbered two-to-one, it looked hopeless. But Abijah saw it differently. He realized that God had always been with them and was with them again. So they cried out to the Lord for help and relied on Him for the victory. Judah defeated Israel on that occasion because they trusted in the

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Lord, the God of their ancestors. God provides for each of us every day. Sometimes, His hand is more obvious than others. A miraculous provision, a kind word from a friend, a new job, a hopeful diagnosis, a listening ear—these can become pillars in our faith journey. When we remember that we’ve seen God’s faithfulness in the past, we’ll remember that we can count on it today. MIMBS 4 Name one or two of these “pillars” in your life. How has the Lord provided for you? Share your thoughts with another man. Daily Reading: Jeremiah 44:24-47:7, 2 Timothy 2:22-3:17, Psalm 94:1-23, Proverbs 26:6-8

Wednesday—October 26  •  Learning From Others Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. Romans 6:8

I received an e-mail from a man who read one of my books. He told me that years ago, when he read through the book, he was glad that he didn’t have to go through what I had gone through. He went on to tell me that since that time he’s faced his own struggles. Financially, he had hit bottom. He said, “I don’t know how I will make payroll next month. I am in a prison of debt with no way out. I find it hard to find joy in the small things. I hate it. I accept it, but I hate it. This is not enjoyable at all and I really long

for a season of rest.” The point of his e-mail was that my story had been an encouragement to him. God had showed Himself to be faithful to me during my struggles. It helped him believe God would do the same for him. In spite of his difficulties he was clinging to the scriptures and striving to trust the Lord. Faith in God is never in vain. MIMBS 4 Whose stories or testimonies have been an encouragement to you? Let that person know today the impact they have had on your life. Daily Reading: Jeremiah 49:23-50:46, Titus 1:1-16, Psalm 97:1-98:9, Proverbs 26:13-16

Tuesday—October 25  •  Stories of Faith

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Hebrews 11:39–40 The Bible is filled with stories where people showed great faith. Daniel stood strong in the lion’s den and relied on God for deliverance. Noah obeyed God’s instructions and built an ark on dry land. David defeated the giant, Goliath, with a slingshot. Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac if that is what God asked him to do. These men had one thing in common: they all faced impossible situations that left them with no good options. So they chose to put God between them and their troubles. They trusted in His power rather than relying on themselves. They realized that the battle was not their battle; it belonged to the Lord. And God came through and

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defeated the enemy. Daniel, David and others are powerful examples for us. God was faithful to them and He will be faithful to us. We can trust Him in our own powerless circumstances. He can win our battles over unemployment, marital struggles, family conflicts, moral failures, pain and all that life brings. He will rescue, and He will receive the glory. MIMBS 4 What battle are you facing in your life? Do you believe that battle belongs to the Lord? Daily Reading: Jeremiah 48:1-49:22, 2 Timothy 4:1-22, Psalm 95:1-96:13, Proverbs 26:9-12

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Thursday—October 27  •  Never Too Big or Too Small Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe. Mark 5:36

Many men give lip service to faith, but when it comes down to it they believe they are responsible for providing for their family, navigating a successful career, keeping healthy relationships, exercising, being a good neighbor, and being a solid church member. We think we should be able to take care of the day-to-day items of life on our own. We try to be self-reliant until a situation arises that we absolutely cannot control. Then we look to God to step in and rescue us. When your wife is in a car accident or you’re facing cancer or a child has gone astray, God will be there. But God is also

with us every day during the mundane, simple actions and choices we face. Our heavenly Father is interested in every aspect of our lives. He has a loving interest in you and your family. There is no situation or problem that is too big or too small to bring to Him and ask Him for guidance and direction. That’s what having a father is all about. MIMBS 4 Think of a hymn or praise chorus that reminds you of God’s care in all situations. Sing that song or pray the words as a prayer to God. Daily Reading: Jeremiah 51:1-53, Titus 2:1-15, Psalm 99:1-9, Proverbs 26:17

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q Friday, Saturday, Sunday—October 28, 29, 30  •  Waiting on Him So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Luke 11:9 Waiting on the Lord or trusting Him is not passive. Looking to God for guidance doesn’t mean that we do nothing. Trusting God for a job doesn’t mean that you lie in bed and expect the postman to ring the doorbell with a job offer in hand. If your child is ill, it doesn’t mean that medical help shouldn’t be found. We must use the intelligence that God gave us to function in life. And in the midst of accepting responsibility for our own life, we also need to spend time with God and read His Word. We go to Him in humble prayer and ask Him to guide and direct our steps. As we spend time in the Bible, we learn His ways. When we fellowship and seek counsel from other believers, we learn how God has worked in their lives. When we discuss our circumstances with another Christian, they can give insight about God’s Word, His ways and His hand in our lives. Whether we are making a decision about a vacation, a soul mate, a home church or

new home, He is interested. At the heart of every situation, the most important thing is to trust the Lord. He can be trusted with the big and little of life. He guides us in all things through His Word, prayer and fellow Christians. Once your decision is made, trust Him with that decision. The process may not be easy and the path may not be straight. The Lord gives us tools to discern our best decision and then we must trust Him with our hearts and mind. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phillipians 1:6). The battle belongs to Him whether it is a small skirmish and or a massive war. What He really cares about is the focus of your heart. MIMBS 4 What little things have you tried to control in life? Has that pursuit been successful? Why or why not? Daily Reading: Jeremiah 51:54-52:34, Lamentations 1:1-3:66,Titus 3:1-15, Psalm 100:1-102:28, Proverbs 26:18-22

For Your Small Group

❏❏ For October 24–30: On a whiteboard or large piece of paper, write down the men’s answers to: What are the attributes of a loving father? •• Which of those attributes does our heavenly Father have? •• Which of those attributes did your dad have? Which of those attributes do you have? •• Spend some time with your dad or your children and take notice of any of these attributes in your dad or in yourself.

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Monday—October 31  •  Weaker or Younger Believers Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. Romans 14:1

Whenever I’m around young teens I’m always amazed at the huge difference among guys in middle school. Some guys are 4 feet 8 inches tall in 7th grade and then by 8th grade they’re 6 feet! Some 12-year-olds could still sing soprano while many of their friends are ready to sing bass. It just shows that we all grow and mature at different rates. It’s much the same in our spiritual lives. Maturity and spiritual growth can’t be regulated—not in our own life and certainly not in the lives of others. We need to accept one another, whether we’re new to our faith or have been a believer for decades.

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God asks us to care and nurture those who are weak or young believers. We can be a mentor and example to those who are new to their faith. We can encourage them, pray for them, and walk through the challenges of life with them. What a privilege to be a part of someone’s life as they explore and embrace the love of God. Being a conduit of grace will not only change their life, it will change yours as well. MIMBS 5 Did you have a mentor or a mature Christian who helped you when you were new to the faith? How did they help you on your journey? Daily Reading: Lamentations 4:1-5:22, Hebrews 2:1-18, Psalm 103:1-22, Proverbs 26:23

Tuesday—November 1  •  It Takes All Kinds For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. Romans 14:7

Who is the weaker brother? What kinds of people are weak in their faith? One kind of a weaker brother would be a new Christian. New Christians might be tender because they have come through a very difficult time that showed them their need for God. They may be easily confused by issues. They may be overly sensitive to correction. An immature Christian may be legalistic and think that all believers must live life the way that they are living. Another weaker brother is the man who is living a worldly life. He has not allowed God to fully transform his heart. He is still participating in behaviors that do not reflect God’s glory. He asked God into his

life, but struggles to release control of his own daily living. Some may refer to this as “not making God the Lord of your life.” What kind of believer are you? Have you matured in your faith? Do your daily activities reflect God’s glory? Do you know others who may be weak in their faith? MIMBS 5 What are some signs that someone is mature or immature? Talk with your small group about ways to encourage those who may be weak or young in their Christian walk. Daily Reading: Ezekiel 1:1-3:15, Hebrews 3:119, Psalm 104:1-23, Proverbs 26:24-26

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Wednesday—November 2  •  Worldwide Believers Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. Romans 14:4

What does a man of faith look like in India? How do you share your faith in China? Does a church in Chicago minister in the same way as a church in Seoul or Sao Paulo or Cape Town? Will the community outreach look the same for a small, rural church in Iowa as it does for an urban church in Manhattan or Miami? There are tenets of faith that unite believers around the world. We believe we are sinners in need of a Savior and that God sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins. But there are many differences as well.

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The apostle Paul tells us that we must be tolerant and accepting of the traditions, preferences, and culture of others. He teaches that we have a responsibility to accept people in spite of the way they eat or handle the holy days. Each of us are imperfect servants of a perfect Master. MIMBS 5 Is it easy for you to relate to people who have different preferences than you in doctrine, entertainment, or politics? Why or why not? Daily Reading: Ezekiel 3:16-6:14, Hebrews 4:116, Psalm 104:24-35, Proverbs 26:27

Thursday—November 3  •  Acceptance and Tolerance Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Romans 14:19

Paul gives us three ways to accept a weaker brother. First, don’t argue with them. Arguing rarely produces any good results and often produces anger. It is far better to allow God to work through your kind words and actions and allow your life to reflect God to the new believer. Second, don’t condemn them. Don’t put someone down because they don’t do their Christianity the way you do or use the same translation of the Bible that your church uses. The Holy Spirit is bigger than you. Our individual spiritual journeys will vary. Let God be God.

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Third, don’t cause a weaker brother to stumble. Romans 14:13b says, “Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall” (nlt). There are many things in life that are perfectly acceptable, but Paul says if it will cause another believer to stumble, don’t do it. MIMBS 5 Have you ever treated a weaker brother in one of these three ways? Which is the biggest struggle for you? Daily Reading: Ezekiel 7:1-9:11, Hebrews 5:114, Psalm 105:1-15, Proverbs 26:28

Great Books + Incredible Value = Excellent Resource!

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Man in the Mirror’s BOOKS! by the Box program has distributed over 9,240,501 books since 1999. BOOKS! by the Box are on every continent (except Antarctica) and churches in all 50 states have handed them out. There are two reasons for the tremendous impact of the program: Great Books and Incredible Prices! Check out these excerpts from some of the books and authors that are currently in the program. To order your books or for more information go to: www.booksbythebox.org Perhaps it’s time that Christian men in America check out of the rat race. It’s an unwinnable race. Isn’t it time we started doing the job we were promoted to when we first trusted Christ? “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are promised a new spiritual nature, but we must be faithful to do our part—to do the new job. The Man in the Mirror—Dr. Patrick Morley God is in the business of strategically positioning us in the right place at the right time. A sense of destiny is our birthright as followers of Christ. God is awfully good at getting us where He wants us to go. But here’s the catch: The right place often seems like the wrong place, and the right time often seems like the wrong time. In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day— Mark Batterson The clock is running. What once looked like an eternity ahead of you is now within reach. And while you do not fear the end of the game, you do want to make sure that you finish well, that you leave something behind no one can take away from you. If the first half was a quest for success, the second half is a journey to significance. Halftime—Bob Buford A man needs a battle to fight; he needs a place for the warrior in him to come alive and be honored, trained, seasoned. If we can reawaken that fierce quality in a man, hook it up to a higher purpose, release the warrior within, then the boy can grow up and become truly masculine. Wild at Heart—John Eldredge Every gift reveals God’s love … but no gift reveals his love more than the gifts of the cross. They came, not wrapped in paper, but in passion. Not placed around a tree, but a cross. And not covered with ribbons, but sprinkled with blood. He Chose the Nails—Max Lucado We tend to have mixed feelings about the holy. There is a sense in which we are at the same time attracted to it and repulsed by it. Something draws us toward it, while at the same time we want to run away from it. We can’t seem to decide which way we want it. Part of us yearns for the holy, while part of us despises it. We can’t live with it, and we can’t live without it. The Holiness of God—R.C. Sproul

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The Man in the Mirror Annual Summit

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“So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” —Romans 12:5


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Sounds Great…But Does It Work?

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by Brett Clemmer . Over the last eight years or so, we have trained leaders from over a thousand churches in the No Man Left Behind model. This past weekend I taught the model to 50 more leaders from 20 more churches. As I finished the first session of the conference, many of the guys had the same expression. It says, “Yeah, I get it. You talk a good game, the ideas seem solid, and you’ve presented this a lot. It all sounds great…but does it work?” This time, however, I had something to back up my claims: Numbers. Last year we surveyed graduates of No Man Left Behind trainings to research the effectiveness of the training and the model. What we found was not only encouraging, but dramatic. Among the questions was: How intentional was your church in implementing the No Man Left Behind model when you got back from the training? This separated the responses into two categories: those who intentionally implemented the model, and those who didn’t. Then we asked them how many men were attending their church, and how many men were involved in discipleship, at the time of the training (before) and at the time of the survey (after). There were obvious, significant differences between the two groups of churches. The graph below illustrates it: the churches that were not intentional saw an 8% increase in the number of men in their church over an average 2.5 years. But the churches who were intentional saw a 48% average increase in male attendance. In addition, the unintentional churches saw a 22% increase in the number men involved in discipleship—a decent improvement. But the churches who were intentional reported an 84% increase in men involved in discipleship. It was nice to see the faces of the guys in that recent class as I shared these results. Their looks changed from, “Will this really work?” to “Bring it on!” Does your church need a systematic process to reach and disciple men? Learn more about No Man Left Behind at www.maninthemirror.org/nmlbmodel.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Romans 14:19 In His earthly ministry, Jesus varied His method and approach to ministry with almost every person or situation He encountered. He celebrated at the wedding and turned water into wine. When He met the Samaritan woman at the well, He knew that she had been married several times and had a poor reputation. Just speaking to a woman, and especially a Samaritan woman, was unacceptable in that culture. But He spoke to her and let her know that He knew about her life. He turned over the tables of the money changers at the temple. Before speaking to a large crowd of people, He made sure they were well-fed by turning a few fishes and loaves of bread into enough food for everyone. He told Peter that he would betray Him and Peter vehemently denied it. When Peter did betray Jesus three times, Jesus forgave him and loved him anyway. He used Paul, a murderer of Christians, to preach and teach His word. Jesus ministered to individuals in individual, unique ways. He did not speak to everyone in the same manner or minister to them in the same way. He knew the heart

and needs of each person and presented His message in the best possible way for them. Ministry and maturity cannot be formulated for everyone as a whole. There is no algebraic equation that will automatically get a person from unsaved to saved to mature believer. We need to open ourselves to the transforming power of God’s grace in our lives each day. Then we need to allow God to work on each other’s hearts and minds in His time. MIMBS 5 What are some ways that your group can encourage a young believer that you know? Talk to your group and implement a next step. Daily Reading: Ezekiel 10:1-16:41, Hebrews 6:1-7:28, Psalm 105:16-106:12,Proverbs 27:1-6

For Your Small Group

❏❏ For October 31–November 6: Read these definitions aloud to the group: Immature—not fully grown or developed; and Weak—not strong; liable to yield, break, or collapse under pressure or strain. •• Describe a time when you felt weak or immature. What were the consequences of your weakness or immaturity? Who or what helped you strengthen or mature during that time? •• Have you had the opportunity to help or serve someone during their time of weakness? •• What impact did that make on your life and the person you served?

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Monday—November 7  •  Check Your Blind Spot

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They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them. 1 John 2:11b Lane changes are nothing special. Few of us give them any thought. You signal, you ease over, and you’re done. In drivers’ education, however, great attention is paid to lane changes, with specific instructions to “check your blind spot.” We can become complacent with a glance in the mirrors, but how many accidents, injuries, or deaths result from not being aware of blind spots? The driver was sure the space was open, until the sound of metal on metal. Similarly, people don’t wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and say, “I’m going to binge drink and overdose on drugs today,” or “What a great day to destroy my family by watching porn and starting an affair.” Blatant sins can be so obvious they are easy to decline. Many moral failures are the result of small steps into a space believed to be safe, lulling us into

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complacency—until we’re jolted awake by the sounds of a life falling apart. —Rich Gerberding Have you seen or experienced the physical or spiritual damage of not checking a blind spot? Are you brave enough to ask some brothers to point out your blind spots? Daily Reading: Ezekiel 16:42-17:24, Hebrews 8:1-13, Psalm 106:1331, Proverbs 27:7-9

Tuesday—November 8  •  Apathy

So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:16 “Apathy is a terrible problem, but who cares?” With work, home, church, and countless other demands for our time and attention, small details are easy to overlook and let slide. A day. Then another day. Then a week. Eventually they fall completely off our radar screen, never to be seen again—maybe. Over time, those small details accumulate. They combine and grow into bigger issues. Or as we grow comfortable letting the smaller details go, we may lose our desire or willingness to address the slightly larger issues, and then a size or two above that. “Don’t sweat the small stuff ” is sound advice, but it implies an intentionality in

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determining which items to sweat and which ones to let slide, whether on a temporary or permanent basis. Apathy is not an intentional act or decision; it’s a passive disconnection from caring. It can set the stage for a growing mound of ignored issues that eventually overwhelms us, displacing the very things we claim to care about most. —Rich Gerberding Are you intentional about determining the items you are going to care about? Are there some areas of your life you have “let slide” for a while? Ask God to show you where you should be paying more attention. Daily Reading: Ezekiel 18:1-19:14, Hebrews 9:1-10, Psalm 106:32-48, Proverbs 27:10

Wednesday—November 9  •  Inclinations But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts Jeremiah 7:24a

I am not you. You are not me. Far too often we forget that as we view our world. As Christians, we have a tendency to project our struggles or temptations onto others. After college, I went to dinner with friends near a casino. As we left the car my friend advised me to leave my wallet in the car, so I wouldn’t have credit cards around the ATM inside. (This was years before Dave Ramsey came on the scene.) I laughed, thanking him for his concern, but did not anticipate a problem. Gambling has never been an interest or desire, so my credit card limits were safe. As we entered the restaurant, I looked over

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at the buffet loaded with prime rib, ham, and turkey— there might have been a salad bar somewhere. I outweighed my friend by a good 60 pounds and when I saw what we each put on our plates, I knew why. He was a gambler, and I was a glutton. Our temptations were different, and as a result, so were the boundaries and precautions we needed. —Rich Gerberding Do you project your inclinations onto others? Do you allow your safe zones to become stumbling blocks? Daily Reading: Ezekiel 20:1-49, Hebrews 9:1128, Psalm 107:1-43, Proverbs 27:11

Thursday—November 10  •  Tipping Points

For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Romans 7:19 Growing up, I loved playing with magnets— using one end to push around the others. Then I’d find the point where just a hair further the repulsed magnet spun and the opposite end’s attraction took over. At other times, it would be seeing at what distance the pile of paper clips would start shifting before being captured. As Han Solo exclaimed in Star Wars, “We’re caught in a tractor beam! It’s pulling us in!” Several years ago I saw a weight loss class next to an ice cream shop. Ice cream is not a sin, but it can be if it hinders our relationship with God. One person can stop at one spoonful of ice cream but break into

a sweat resisting the bar next door. His friend can be just the opposite. We must learn our own tipping points. Here’s the key. Once you know your “red zone,” don’t tiptoe up, seeing how close you can get without being pulled in. Take a big step (or two) back and draw another line to serve as your limit. —Rich Gerberding What “tractor beams” do you encounter in your life? What are ways you protect yourself from getting “sucked in”? Share this with some brothers. Daily Reading: Ezekiel 21:1-22:31, Hebrews 10:1-17, Psalm 108:1-13, Proverbs 27:12

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Friday, Saturday, Sunday—November 11, 12, 13 Resist the B.A.I.T., Avoid the Trap

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In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. Ephesians 1:11

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 I grew up in Eastern Oregon across the street from a field, so we had our share of mice. When a trap we set for them snapped shut, getting out meant a one-way trip to the garbage. Many people have traps that look enticing until we are caught and helpless. Even if not fatal, the traps cause incredible pain and agony in our lives and our family’s. Whether the struggle is pornography, drugs, or other addictions, we often hear of helping people “escape the trap.” I am thankful for the programs that seek this end, celebrating the success stories of those who have been saved through these efforts. Of course, we need to help people escape traps, but let’s also develop strategies to avoiding them altogether. In our own lives, being aware of our Blind spots, Apathy, Inclinations, and Tipping points – BAIT – can help us avoid falling into Satan’s traps. As men and brothers in Christ, we need to invite each other to help us maintain our

vigilance in these areas. Lovingly pointing out blind spots and inclinations, calling out apathy, and helping brothers avoid those tipping points, all help us maintain our walk with Christ. When we were starting our family, I asked how my recovery from an umbilical hernia repair would affect our plans. The doctor smiled and gave the following advice, “When the ecstasy outweighs the agony you’ll be fine.” Sin is just the opposite. We will only consistently avoid Satan’s various traps after we have firmly determined in our hearts and minds that the agony of sin far outweighs its fleeting ecstasy. —Rich Gerberding Would you rather escape the trap, or avoid it altogether? Do you have a group of brothers who can point out the BAIT in your life, and who welcome your vigilance in theirs as well? Daily Reading: Ezekiel 23:1-28:24, Hebrews 10:18-11:31, Psalm 109:1-111:10, Proverbs 27:13-16

For Your Small Group

❏❏ For November 7–13: What does the B.A.I.T. acronym stand for? (Answer in the devotional on this page.) •• Which of those pitfalls are you the most susceptible to? Give some examples. •• How can a group of men help each other become aware of and avoid those pitfalls? •• Spend some time in prayer together repenting and thanking God for His grace.

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Monday—November 14  •  In Search of a System

After years of teaching and leading, I’ve heard just about everything from guys. Men often tell me they are struggling with success, failure, jobs, relationships, money, service, or other things. After all these years I believe those struggles really boil down to three problems they are trying to solve: they want something they can give their life to, someone to share it with, and a system that explains why the first two are so difficult. First, men want something to give their lives to: a mission, a purpose, the desire to be significant and make their lives count. Secondly, men want someone to share life with. They want to be part of a community, to have healthy dynamic relationships, and

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to experience love. But they need a system that gives a reasonable explanation why those things are so hard. The system could be a religion, a worldview, a theory of life, or a philosophy. This is without respect to whether a man is religious or irreligious; moral or immoral; worldly or spiritual. This is what all men want. MIMBS 6 Do you find that this rings true with men you know? Do you have these questions answered in your own life? Daily Reading: Ezekiel 29:1-30:26, Hebrews 11:32-12:13, Psalm 112:1-10, Proverbs 27:17

Tuesday—November 15  •  Unsolved Problems I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. Ezekiel 36:26a

When the solution to our basic need for purpose in life goes unresolved, we end up being broken, hurting, feeling guilty, afraid of death, and restless. Every religion and philosophy portends to solve these three problems. But when these ideas aren’t rich and deep enough to provide real solutions they leave men feeling confused, disillusioned, empty and lonely. Of course you’d never know it from how men act. On the inside they are confused, but on the outside they’re bluffing. By the time a man realizes his system isn’t working, he’s created a number of obligations that require him to pretend to be happy even when he is not. Guys will bluff for a period of years until the wheels come completely off the wagon through divorce,

financial chaos or addiction. Then they are left looking for a way to pick up the pieces. Christians know that Jesus is the only solution to change men’s hearts from being broken on the inside to being whole. He can make a man so filled with love that it overflows into every part of his life. MIMBS 6 Can you recall a time in your life when you were broken and hopeless, yet had to wear your game face? What did you do to solve that conflict? If you haven’t resolved it, talk to someone in your group and pray with each other. Daily Reading: Ezekiel 31:1-32:32, Hebrews 12:14-29, Psalm 113:1-114:8, Proverbs 27:18-20

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Wednesday—November 16 

•  A Real Solution

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. If we claim we have not sinned we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives. This is how God showed His love among us. He sent His one and only son into the world so that through Him, we might have life. This is love. Not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. That’s the Christian system. Christ gives us something to live for, someone to share it with, and a system that empowers us to win the battle for our souls. Right now raging all around you is a battle for your soul.

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Thursday—November 17 

Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Evil is real. Goodness is real. And the battle is real. Christianity is the only system that gives an adequate explanation for the battle we face. MIMBS 6 Are you engaged in the battle for your soul? How can you be more fully equipped to win? Daily Reading: Ezekiel 33:1-34:31, Hebrews 13:1-25, Psalm 115:1-18, Proverbs 27:21-22

•  Adopting a System

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” John 6:32–33 Keith Elias, a football player, talked about how he hung out with actors like Bruce Willis or went to celebrities’ houses for parties, and then had to go home to an empty house. It made him realize just how alone he felt. Many young men face this same struggle. They pursue this worldly system only to realize it is vacuous and futile. Then many of them want to make a change. By his own grit, self-will and determination, a young man applies himself and tries to be a better person. That works for a while until one day the emptiness comes back, with a vengeance.

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One day he’s reached the end of himself. Perhaps he’s at a beach. He’s watching the twinkling of the surf, which gives way to dusk, and then darkness falls, and the starry hosts open up in the cosmos. Suddenly he has a luminous moment. He is overwhelmed by the presence of the holy, and he realizes what he has been missing the whole time—God. MIMBS 6 What stages did you go through to find God? Share your journey with a few other men. Daily Reading: Ezekiel 35:1-36:38, James 1:118, Psalm 116:1-19, Proverbs 27:23-27

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Friday, Saturday, Sunday—November 18, 19, 20 Something to Live For For our struggle [our battle] is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

Some men are willing to give their lives for their work—whether it’s to win a law case, get a huge sales deal, or build a business empire. It seems they would be willing to die for their career. It’s great to fight for your work, because God called us to tend the culture and provide for our families. But the only cause truly worth dying for is Jesus Christ. Christ gives me something I can live for because He gives me something that’s worth dying for. A man shared with me about a meeting he had with an executive from the Coca-Cola Company. The CocaCola executive basically said that the mission of the Coca-Cola Company was to win the world for Coca-Cola. Frankly, they’ve done it. You can go to the highest mountain in Nepal or down in the nadir of Death Valley and find empty Coke cans. But that’s not something worth dying for. Christ gives me something to live for because He gives me a system that’s worth dying for, and He even gives me someone to share it with—a community of believers. Many men are closer to the men in their small group than they are to some of their

own family because of the brotherhood we have in Jesus Christ. Believers have a common language. We have a common Savior. We have a connection that is real and eternal. Working on our temporal lives is important, but my wife made one of the wisest observations I’ve ever heard. She said, “It’s interesting. All of this discussion about curing heart disease, dieting and losing a few pounds to extend the person’s life, maybe five years? But then they all die, and they go to either heaven or hell. Why don’t we talk about that more?” It is interesting. We need to keep things in perspective. Jesus is for the temporal life, the life in the flesh; but we need to remember He is also for eternal life. If we don’t get our life with Him right, it doesn’t make any difference if we get this life right. MIMBS 6 Are you living a life that is worth both living for and dying for? How can you adjust your perspective on your temporal and eternal life? Daily Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-41:26, James 1:194:17, Psalm 117:1-118:29, Proverbs 28:1-5

For Your Small Group

❏❏ For November 14–20: Think back to these four phases of your life: childhood, teen years, college, and young adulthood. •• What were you living for in each of those phases of life? •• What would be your answer to that question for the stage of life you’re in right now? •• How and why did those answers change throughout your life?

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Monday—November 21 

•  Chasing Happiness

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Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Pascal once said that all people seek happiness. This is without exception. We are looking for happiness in all the decisions we make—in our marriage, in our finances, in our career. The Bible seems to promise that this is in fact God’s plan for us. Jesus said that we would have peace, that we would find happiness and that we would have an abundant, full life: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” John 10:10. The frustration we often have is that happiness is elusive. Even the man who is able to get exactly what he wants often finds out that it doesn’t really make him happy after all. “Success sickness” is the disease of always

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wanting more and then never being happy when you get it. A lot of guys have an intangible pain that sits there in the gut, not because they didn’t get what they wanted but because they did. They thought getting what they wanted would make them happy, buy they ended up miserable. They got off track and pursued their own desires rather than what God wants for them. MIMBS 7 Where in your life have you been chasing success? Are you content with your whole life, or is there an area in which you are struggling with contentment? Daily Reading: Ezekiel 42:1-43:27, James 5:120, Psalm 119:1-16, Proverbs 28:6-7

Tuesday—November 22  •  Skidding Off the Track Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:15

How do men get off track? James 4:13–15 contrasts two types of people: the people who worry about this life and its anxieties, and those concerned with the will of God. James reminds us that our life is a mere mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. How much anxiety and worry is directed at things that are already past? None. All of our worry is directed at an unknown future. And yet the Bible says no man can know anything about his future. I’ve lived with both contentment and worry. I used to have a plan for my life. Even when I became a Christian it never occurred to me that I should change my

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ways. My credo was “Plan, comma, then pray.” I was reading my Bible for comfort, but my Forbes for direction. One day, I was shaken and realized I was living according to James 4:13 instead of James 4:15. I decided to make a significant rededication of my life to the Lord. MIMBS 7 What is your view on the direction your life is heading? Are you asking God to lead you in the steps He wants you to go, or are you racing for what you want and then praying about it? Daily Reading: Ezekiel 44:1-45:12, 1 Peter 1:1-12, Psalm 119:17-32, Proverbs 28:8-10

Wednesday—November 23  •  A Surrendered Life In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9

The man who tries to be in charge of his own life lives the life of the cultural Christian. He lives by his own ideas. He seeks the god or gods he wants. Strongwilled and ambitious, his motto is: “I do what I want to do, I make my own plans.” The Bible tells about the Pharisee who beats his chest and tells God, “I am a righteous man. I’m not like that sinner over there.” And the humble sinner can’t even look up at God; he says “Lord, have mercy on me.” This man is the biblical Christian. While the cultural Christian lives by his own ideas, the biblical Christian seeks constantly to live a more surrendered life. So

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one seeks the God he wants, the other seeks the God who is. How does a man experience true peace, happiness, and contentment? The answer is that he will be most peaceful, most happy, and most content when he lives in surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. MIMBS 7 Are you living a self-directed life, or one that is humble, seeking what God wants for you? Is there any area of life you have not yet surrendered to the Lord? Share your thoughts with members of your group. Daily Reading: Ezekiel 45:13-46:24, 1 Peter 1:13-2:10, Psalm 119:33-48, Proverbs 28:11

Thursday—November 24  •  Thankful for His Intervention But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. Matthew 7:26–27

One day I wrote in the front of my Bible, I want to live the rest of my earthly life for the will of God. I really made Jesus the center of my life. At the time I made this commitment I thought, Imagine what God can do, now that I’m on His side. Some years later, I was in the midst of a major remodel of a building. Out of nowhere, the state passed some new laws that affected our project. One morning bulldozers showed up and leveled everything to the foundation. It was a picture of my relationship with Christ. I had the right foundation but I had just not built on it the right way.

God leveled me right down to the foundation. It was one of the most gracious things He has done for me. I never could have gotten on the right track without His intervention. I am so grateful. I was mired in my own system and trying to write my own script in life. MIMBS 7 Take a few minutes to review your life to reflect on how and where God has intervened or redirected your plan or life. Share with your group one or two of the times you recalled when God got you back on track. Daily Reading: Ezekiel 47:148:35, 1 Peter 2:11-3:7, Psalm 119:49-64, Proverbs 28:12-13

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Friday, Saturday, Sunday—November 25, 26, 27 Give God Control

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 . . . and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. Numbers 32:23b

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” Exodus 3:14a Not long after my recommitment to Christ came a huge business crisis. I was sitting around in the rubble of my business when a thought went through my mind. There is a God we want, and there is a God who is. They are not the same God. This is the greatest lesson I have ever learned. I asked myself, “Morley, what are you doing? Do you really think that you can reshape God in your Serving the image? Do you think God We Want your efforts can have one iota of impact on changing His nature and character?” He is the allknowing, all-powerful God. He existed before anything or anyone and His plan began thousands of years ago. He does not need to change His mind or plan to suit me. The turning point of our lives is when we stop seeking the god we want and start seeking the God who is. Does that make sense? I had spent 12½ years

trying to change God; meanwhile, God’s desire was to change me. I thought I knew what was best for me and that surely He would bless my plans. I realized that my duty is to come humbly to the foot of the cross and completely surrender my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I had to trust Him and let go of the control I thought I had. I’ve since learned the irony of surrender is that it leads not to defeat Serving the but victory. So if I want God Who Is peace, happiness and contentment, the way I get this is by living according to James 4:15, according to God’s will. MIMBS 7 Do you ever try to change who you think God is to fit your life? What does it mean to you to live a surrendered life? Daily Reading: Daniel 1:1-4:37, 1 Peter 3:8-4:6, 2 Peter 1:1-21, Psalm 119:65-112, Proverbs 28:14-18

For Your Small Group

❏❏ For November 21–27: Ask someone to read aloud the devotional on this page, “Give God Control.” •• Are you serving the God you want or the God who is? How can you tell the difference? •• Have you attempted to plan your life and asked God to bless your plan? What happened? •• Share a time when you prayed, then planned. What were the results?

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Monday—November 28  •  Sin Will Be “Found Out”

I recall getting into a conversation with a man on a plane. Six years previously, he’d been involved in a small group of men, including his pastor. He said he had been a vibrant Christian, growing in his faith, until his pastor’s sin was exposed. His pastor was leading a double life, with women, alcohol, and everything that goes with it. This vulnerable Christian’s faith was shattered. He dropped out of his church and

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took his family with him. His children’s ages at the time were sixteen, fourteen and seven. That reminded me of my own life, since my dad pulled me out of church when I was sixteen years old. Scripture clearly warns that sin will be exposed—it’s inevitable. And it often brings great pain to everyone around. But even in the midst of that, God is good. And even when He allows or causes us to be “found out,” He’s working to bring about good for us, and for His Kingdom. MIMBS 8 What negative or positive results have you seen when your sin or someone else’s was exposed? Daily Reading: Daniel 5:1-3, 2 Peter 2:1-22, Psalm 119:113-128, Proverbs 28:19-20

Tuesday—November 29  •  Hidden Sin Can Devastate But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. Malachi 3:2

When I was in high school, I was preparing to participate in the long jump at a track meet. I was using my hand to brush off the little wooden slab at the beginning of the jump, and a giant splinter punctured my palm. I thought I got the whole thing out. About three months later, this big fragment erupted out of my hand, along with all the infection that had been surrounding it. If you leave a splinter in your hand, it continues to fester, and it gets worse and worse. In a similar way, if you leave sin in your life, the consequences will be devastating. God knows that, and so today’s passage reveals Him as One who judges and cleanses us from sin. His purpose in exposing our

hidden sins is to bring them to the surface, so we will allow Him to deal with them. Ultimately, He desires our spiritual wellbeing, but He also desires the well-being of those around us, who have the opportunity to learn from our example rather than going through the same painful experience themselves. MIMBS 8 Do you have any hidden sins in your own life? What do you need to do to confront and repent of that sin? Pray that God will give you a brother you can trust to hold you lovingly accountable. Daily Reading: Daniel 6:1-28, 2 Peter 3:1-18, Psalm 119:129-152, Proverbs 28:21-22

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Wednesday—November 30  •  God is a Refiner

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He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Malachi 3:3 I heard about a woman who wanted to better understand this passage, so she made an appointment with a silversmith. As she watched him work, he explained that it was important to put the silver at the hottest point of the fire, in order to burn off the impurities. She watched for a while. Then she asked, “Do you have to sit here the whole time?” He nodded, explaining, “I have to keep an eye on the silver, because if I leave it too long, it will be destroyed.” The woman watched a little longer, and then she asked, “How do you know when the silver has been properly refined?” The artisan replied, “As soon as I can see

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my image in the silver, I know it’s finished.” God refines us in a similar way. He stays with us while we’re in the fire, and He’s attentive and watchful. He burns off all the impurities until He can see His own image in us. MIMBS 8 Does this passage frighten you, knowing that refining is inevitable? Or does it comfort you, knowing that God will stay with you through the process, and that He has a purpose for the process? Share your thoughts with a few other men. Daily Reading: Daniel 7:1-28, 1 John 1:1-10, Psalm 119:153-176, Proverbs 28:23-24

Thursday—December 1  •  Skating Close to the Edge? Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy: without holiness no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

Scripture shows us that when God’s people succumb to wicked behaviors, He works to purge the evil from their midst. Picture a circle with God in the center. Imagine that the outer limit of this circle is the boundary of God’s will. The boundary line is formed by things Scripture specifically commands or prohibits. Inside the circle, there are other attitudes and behaviors that are permissible, but they may or may not be beneficial. When you pursue things that are permissible but not beneficial, they lead you away from the center of the circle and closer to the edge. Doesn’t it make sense that, if you’re consistently skating close to the line,

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eventually you’ll face greater temptation to move completely out of God’s will? Today’s scripture reminds us of the need for us to strive to imitate God. It calls us to stay as close as we can to the center of the circle. We need to know God’s heart and live out the beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that most reflect His character. MIMBS 8

Friday, Saturday, Sunday—December 2, 3, 4 It Doesn’t Have to be Fatal And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Most men who are familiar with Man in the Mirror know my history. My family is more than eight decades down the road from the time when my grandfather abandoned my dad. My father was two years old when that happened. Eighty-plus years later, we are still trying to sort everything out. The effect of one man’s failure has been profound. Yet God is working in each of our lives to bring about His good purpose for us as individuals, and for us as a family. I do not believe the sovereign, omnipotent, holy, eternal God will allow the eternal destiny of a person’s soul to turn on the failing of one Christian. We might not see or understand what God is doing in that process, but He is doing something. God is always working to bring about His will and His purpose. God is good, so when we harbor sin in our lives, we will be found out. His purpose is to lead us to deal with the sin and move to a place of purity. When our sin is exposed, or when we are affected because someone else’s sin is exposed, we can choose to rest in the eternal character of our Lord. Don’t make the situation worse by running from God. He can use even failure to

bring about good in your life, and in the lives of those around you. Repent and run toward God, rather than away from Him. If you’re in a habitual pattern, then please take the next step. Get counseling, or do what’s needed to get unstuck. Moral failure, when it is exposed, does have a profound effect. But it doesn’t have to be fatal if we allow God to purify us and restore us to usefulness in His Kingdom. MIMBS 8

What steps are you taking to avoid moral failure, or to recover from it? Daily Reading: Daniel 9:1-11:13, 1 John 2:184:21, Psalm 121:1-123:4, Proverbs 28:27-29:4

For Your Small Group

❏❏ For November 28–December 4: Read this verse aloud to the group: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Are you staying close to the center of God’s circle, or are you skating close to the edge? How would the people closest to you answer this question about your life?

•• What does this verse mean to you? Does it mean that everything will always be good?

Daily Reading: Daniel 8:1-27, 1 John 2:1-17, Psalm 120:1-7, Proverbs 28:25-26

•• Is anyone in a time like that now? Pray for each other, and particularly that brother.

•• Has there ever been a time when things looked bleak or hopeless and as time passed you could see the good that came from that dark time?

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Monday —December 5  •  Have Faith

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Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 Do you remember the stereograms, the “Magic Eye” pictures that were popular a few years ago? They are the pictures that reveal hidden 3-D images if you stare at them a certain way. Not everyone can see those images. Faith is a lot like those pictures. If you showed the same picture to a roomful of people, not everyone will be able to see the 3-D image. Most of those who can’t see the hidden image would still believe it’s there based on the testimony of the ones who did see it. Faith is believing even when you cannot see. The Bible as a history document

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cannot empirically be proven, but you can, on the basis of many witnesses, come to the conclusion that the people who recorded the documents were accurate. What is Christian faith as opposed to a general faith? Faith is the confidence of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. It is believing that God exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. MIMBS 9 What do you believe faith to be? In times of trouble does your faith increase or decrease? Daily Reading: Hosea 1:1-3:5, 1 John 5:121, Psalm 124:1-8, Proverbs 29:5-8

Tuesday —December 6  •  Rewards of Faith The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” Luke 17:5

Christian faith is believing that God exists and He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. How does He reward those who earnestly seek Him? In some cases there are temporal blessings and in others the blessings are all eternal. Some people were persecuted for their faith in this world, or did not achieve success by this world’s standards. God’s rewards are not about a temporal blessing. Christian faith is believing that God exists and rewards those who seek Him—either now, or in our eternal home. We need to look at examples in the Bible of people who had faith, and the results

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faith provided. Faith enabled Enoch to be taken to heaven without dying. Faith enabled Noah to obey God and build the ark, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith. Faith enabled the people of Israel to march around Jericho and see the walls come crashing down. Christian faith is believing that God exists and He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. MIMBS 9 What rewards have you seen in your life because of the faith you have in God? What have you seen in the lives of others? Daily Reading: Hosea 4:1-5:15, 2 John 1:1-13, Psalm 125:1-5, Proverbs 29:9-11

Wednesday—December 7  •  Desires vs. Promises Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

There are three ways to have more faith. First, you need to differentiate between selfish desires and God’s promises. We must ensure that our ambitions are God’s plans for us. If we are not sure about it, we need to pray for God to take out of our life things not pleasing to Him, and put in the things that He wants to accomplish. Secondly, you need to surround yourself with witnesses to the life of faith. Then you can be empowered and strengthened to run with endurance the race set before you. A small group of men is a great help.

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The third thing to do to strengthen our faith is to keep our eyes on Jesus. As the verse above states, He is the author and perfecter of our faith. Let Him be the first disposition of your heart in any and every situation. To the best of your ability, invite Jesus to inhabit your life, your thoughts and your relationships. MIMBS 9 Are you doing these three things to increase faith? Share with your group how it is working. Daily Reading: Hosea 6:1-9:17, 3 John 1:1-14, Psalm 126:1-6, Proverbs 29:12-14

Thursday—December 8  •  More Faith And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

How will your faith be strengthened today? Reread today's Scripture verse. One reason I believe we have weak faith is we often try to apply this promise of faith to our own desires instead of God’s promises. I hope for a big house. I want to have a high income. I want certain cars. I want to have a certain number of vacations. I want to send my kids to the best schools. Those are my desires, so when it says faith is being sure of what we hope for and the certainty of what we can’t see, is that a promise for my desires? No.

Hebrew 11:1 is a definition of Christian faith. If we believe that He exists and that He rewards those that earnestly seek Him, then if you are traveling on a ship, no matter what happens, you will make port. That is God’s promise: your ship will make port with you on board. MIMBS 9 Do you believe that God will carry you through to the end, in spite of hardships, disappointments and struggles? Why or why not? Daily Reading: Hosea 10:1-14:9, Jude 1:1-25, Psalm 127:1-5, Proverbs 29:15-17

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Friday, Saturday, Sunday —December 9, 10, 11  •  Have Faith So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord. 2 Timothy 1:8

The story is told about a young man from Rwanda who was forced by his tribe to renounce his faith in Jesus Christ. He refused and was killed immediately. Below is an excerpt attributed to him from a note written the night before he died. I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still. My past is redeemed, my presence makes sense, my future is secure. I am finished and done with low living, sight walking. Colorless dreams, tamed vision, worldly talking, cheap giving and dwarf goals. My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I won’t give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up,

stored up, and prayed up for the cause of Jesus Christ. I must go ’til he comes, give ’til I drop, preach ’til everyone knows, work ’til he stops me and when he comes for his own, he will have no trouble recognizing me because my banner will have been clear. That is what happens when you have faith. You can say on the basis of the testimony of many witnesses and your own experience that God will keep His word. People should be able to see your banner and know without a shadow of doubt who or what you represent. MIMBS 9 Is your banner of faith clear enough so others know you are a follower of Jesus? Write out a brief statement like the one above that describes your faith. Daily Reading: Joel 1:1-3:21, Amos 1:1-6:14, Revelation 1:1-3:6, Psalm 128:1-130:8, Proverbs 29:18-22

For Your Small Group

❏❏ For December 5–11: List some things you learned about faith this week. •• What three things do you need to do to have more faith? (top of page 47) •• How would you describe or teach faith to a child? •• Do those in your life see your banner of faith?

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Monday—December 12  •  Conversation with God

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:5–6 About ten years ago, I had a chance over the Christmas holidays to go with my family and my wife’s family to New York. While we were there, we went to see a Broadway show called The Music Man. Through a chain of relationships, we were invited back stage after the play. Suddenly I understood the great difference between sitting in an audience to watch people do something on stage, and actually conversing with the lead actor and lead actress. Similarly, many people feel a sense of awe from watching God’s activity, as if He were on stage. But the relationship is so much better when you actually enter into dialogue with Him through prayer. I like to say that

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prayer is the conversation that turns salvation into a close relationship. Think about someone you know who is a good conversationalist. That person probably spends as much time listening as talking. Real prayer is like that, too. It’s about talking with God—not at Him. The goal of real prayer has more to do with communion than communication. MIMBS 10 This devotional says, “The goal of real prayer has more to do with communion than communication.” What does that mean to you? Daily Reading: Amos 7:1-9:15, Revelation 3:722, Psalm 131:1-3, Proverbs 29:23

Tuesday—December 13  •  Learning How to Pray One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray . . . ” Luke 11:1

I used to row a skull—a 25-foot long boat that weighs about 42 pounds with full rigging. At one point, I had been doing this for about eight years, and my neighbor said, “You really look peaceful out there when you’re rowing. You look so calm.” I laughed, because the picture he painted was the total opposite of what was really happening. You see, a skull is something like a giant toothpick. It’s long and skinny, and it has absolutely no stability. I took a few lessons

the first year I had it, and then I didn’t learn anything more after that. Practice does not necessarily mean progress. I realized that, unless I learned something new about the art of rowing, I probably would never get any better. The same is true of prayer. People who really are committed to conversing with God usually know they need to sit from time to time with Jesus, in the “school of prayer.” Scripture gives worthwhile lessons and examples to teach us more and more about prayer. MIMBS 10 What one thing have you learned most recently about prayer? Share your thoughts with a few other men. Daily Reading: Obadiah 1:1-21, Revelation 4:111, Psalm 132:1-18, Proverbs 29:24-25

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Wednesday—December 14  •  The Best Use of Your Time

q Friday, Saturday, Sunday—December 16, 17, 18  •  No Time to Pray?

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. James 5:16b–18 Martin Luther famously commented once, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” He understood that prayer really is the most effective use of time. Our world depends on work. But prayer is more powerful than work, because it releases forces that will not be contained. Summer is always a difficult financial season for ministry. But several years ago, we faced a particularly challenging summer. The stock market had bottomed out and giving fell off. I was building my faith and praying a couple

of passages related to God supplying our needs. We had 20 full-time staff. Payday was five days away, and we had absolutely no money for payroll. I wrote in my journal, “God, I don’t believe You have failed me, but I feel You have failed me.” I was honest, because I’m in relationship with God. But I expressed my belief in His sustaining power. By payday, we had the money we needed. Prayer accomplished what work could not do. MIMBS 10 Describe a time in your own life, or in the life of someone you’ve observed, when prayer accomplished what work could not do. Daily Reading: Jonah 1:1-4-11, Revelation 5:114, Psalm 133:1-3, Proverbs 29:26-27

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God has not established set rules or methods for prayer. Some people pray through a daily list; others keep a prayer journal. I often pray through the Lord’s Prayer. I mention a phrase, then let my mind wander to the application of each phrase in the things I am facing. Pray in the way that works for you, and in the process make prayer the disposition of your heart. MIMBS 10

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 Occasionally young men will tell me they’re too busy to pray. They have young children, they’re heavily involved at church, and they’re working their way up the ladder in the career. I tell them, “I used to be that way, too. I’ll tell you what changed things for me.” I discovered that, when management guru Peter Drucker would meet with a young executive, one of the first things he required was a chart showing how the young man or woman invested time. Inevitably, the executive was surprised. So I charted how I was using my time. I found I had a one- to two-hour block every evening when I was watching TV. Even if that’s just weekdays and not weekends, that’s five to ten hours per week. And I wasn’t watching specific programs, but I was absorbing whatever was on in that time slot. Most of it was lusty and sensual, and it was tempting me to think things I didn’t want to think. I said to myself, “I

want to spend more time with God, and less time being tempted.” So I started going to bed two hours earlier rather than watching TV, and getting up two hours earlier to spend time in Bible study and prayer. Some people think I’m crazy when they hear I’m up at 4 a.m., but for me, it’s worth it. I’m conversing with the Lord of the Universe. We might not want to admit it, but the reality is, each of us will end up doing exactly what we really want to do. If you really want to have a close relationship with Jesus, you can have it. But you have to do the things included in the definition of “close relationship,” and one of those things is having conversation. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or middle-aged or old—God has given an open invitation. He says, “Let’s talk.” How will you respond? MIMBS 10 How are you responding to God’s invitation to enter into conversation with Him? Daily Reading: Micah 5:1-7:20, Nahum 1:13:19, Habakkuk 1:1-3:19, Revelation 7:1-9:21, Psalm 135:1-137:9, Proverbs 30:5-10

For Your Small Group

List the situations you are facing right now. Has prayer been your first response in each of those situations? Take some time now and pray through these needs.

❏❏ For December 12–18: Ask each man to share one prayer request with the group.

Daily Reading: Micah 1:1-4:13, Revelation 6:117, Psalm 134:1-3, Proverbs 30:1-4

•• Let’s spend a few moments praying for one another’s prayer requests.

•• Is it difficult or easy for you to share your prayer needs with others? •• Do you find it hard to set aside time for prayer during your weekly schedule?

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Monday—December 19  •  The Big Plan

q Wednesday—December 21  •  Young Couple – Great Mission

Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah. Matthew 1:17 Joseph was not just a young man chosen at random to be the earthly father to the baby Jesus. God put this plan into place hundreds of years prior to Jesus’ birth. The lineage or genealogy of Christ included Abraham, David and Solomon. Generation after generation paved the way for the royal birth of the son of God to come through Joseph and Mary. They were part of a great, master plan. The Old Testament foretold that the Messiah or the Son of God would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem. He would come from the line of Judah and be a descendant of King David. It went on to prophesy about

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the life, ministry, death and resurrection of our Lord. The coming birth of Jesus would be the conclusion of many prophesies of the Old Testament and the continuance of God’s plan. How thankful we are for the prophecy and fulfillment of the life of Christ and the plan of salvation that God gave for each of us. MIMBS 11 Do you believe God has a plan for your life? How does knowing that He has a plan for you help in your daily life? Daily Reading: Zephaniah 1:1-3:20, Revelation 10:1-11, Psalm 138:1-8, Proverbs 30:11-14

Tuesday—December 20  •  A Young Man of Great Faith Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14

Things have changed so much since the time of Jesus’ birth. We have electricity, running water, communication and technology. Many of our traditions and customs have changed as well. It makes it more difficult to understand what Mary and Joseph must have gone through. It’s hard to imagine a young (some say teenage) couple tackling all of the hurdles that lay before them. These two probably hardly knew each other and marriage was a practicality of life, not a romantic fairy tale. Mary and Joseph were in a time of betrothal (similar to engagement) when they received the news that Mary was pregnant with the Son of God. Joseph was stunned and considered leaving Mary. It would have been completely understandable since she was carrying a child that did not belong to

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Joseph and they were not yet married. This pregnancy would have been interpreted as a shameful event. But Joseph didn’t leave and he cared for Mary and the baby. His faith far exceeded his age and he was greatly used in the life of Jesus. MIMBS 11 Imagine if Joseph was your son. What guidance or wisdom would you have given him? Would your faith have matched his faith? Daily Reading: Haggai 1:1-2:23, Revelation 11:1-19, Psalm 139:1-24, Proverbs 30:15-16

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. Luke 2:4 C.R. Smith, director of Frontline Outreach in urban Orlando, told a story about a boy that came to the summer program. This young boy looked hurt and angry as he kept his arms folded and head down. C.R. asked the youngster, “What is wrong?” “Nothing!” the boy said. C.R. asked again, “Come on, you can tell me, what’s wrong, son?” The little boy angrily answered, “Oh, I ain’t got no dad!” C.R. replied, “What is the problem with that?” “Well, you can’t do nothin’ without a dad,” the little boy answered. Joseph was the earthly father or dad to God’s son, Jesus. God could have planned for Mary to raise Him alone. But He didn’t.

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He gave a young man a tremendous responsibility—to parent the Messiah! Mary and Joseph were young, first-time parents in a difficult situation that was impossible to explain. They both heard God’s plan from the angels. They went to the town of Bethlehem to pay taxes and that was the place where the Messiah would be born. They may have wrestled with their calling, but they embraced it and followed God. MIMBS 11 Have you ever had a mission from God that was impossible to explain? How did that plan play out? Daily Reading: Zechariah 1:1-21, Revelation 12:1-17, Psalm 140:1-13, Proverbs 30:17

Thursday—December 22  •  How Could It Be? While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. Luke 2:6–7

Father, show me where I fit into this plan of yours. How can a man be father to the Son of God? Lord for all my life, I’ve been a simple carpenter. How can I raise a king? How can I raise a king? —Joseph’s Song By Michael Card Mary and Joseph were full of faith. As they held the baby Jesus in the stable surrounded by cattle and sheep, surely they were amazed to be a part of the miracle of His birth. It must have been daunting to think about what the future held for the newborn Messiah.

They would raise Him just as the other Jewish parents raised their boys. He would have chores, learn a trade and go to Temple. But Jesus would grow up and minister on earth for three years. He would die on the cross for their sins and ours, resurrect from the dead and give us eternal life! He would change and rule the world. Joseph and Mary were the earthly parents to the King of kings and Lord of lords! MIMBS 11 As we celebrate Jesus’ birth this week, give thanks to God for His entire plan of Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection and His gift of eternal life. Daily Reading: Zechariah 2:1-3:10, Revelation 13:1-18, Psalm 141:1-10, Proverbs 30:18-20

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Friday, Saturday, Sunday—December 23, 24, 25 The Great Story of Christmas Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Luke 2:11–12

Billy was trying out for the annual Christmas play. He wanted the part of Joseph. But the teacher in charge picked someone else and Billy was cast as the innkeeper. He was upset that he didn’t get the part he wanted. Over the next few weeks of rehearsals he remained angry. On the night of the big pageant, Mary and Joseph came up on stage and knocked on the door of the inn. Billy, the innkeeper, had been thinking about this moment for quite some time. He opened the door slightly and said his line, “Can I help you?” Joseph responded, “We have come to see if you can give us room and board for the night.” Joseph and Mary stepped back and waited for the innkeeper’s famous line, ‘Sorry there is no room at the inn.’ Instead, Billy said, “Come on in, come on in! You can have the best room in the house.” Joseph was shocked and glared at Billy for a moment before he said, “Wait here, Mary. I am going to go look at this room.” He came back out and said,

“There is no way I am going to let my wife stay in a dump like this. I’d rather stay in the stables. Come on Mary!” And the play went on. We are all familiar with the Christmas story; we've heard it repeatedly. Sometimes we forget how significant Christmas is to all of us. It’s more than presents, trees, decorations, carols and pageants. It is the birth of our Savior. It was a plan, made my God Himself, to send His only, beloved Son to earth, to die for our sins and give us eternal life! What a glorious plan! What a miraculous birth! What a mighty God we serve! MIMBS 11 Find a few moments of quiet time this Christmas week and read the story of Christmas in Luke 2. End your time in a prayer of praise for this Christmas season and the importance of the very first Christmas. Daily Reading: Zechariah 4:18:23, Revelation 14:1-16:21, Psalm 142:1-144:15, Proverbs 30:21-31

For Your Small Group

❏❏ For December 19–25: Joseph’s faith was certainly stretched as he became the earthly father to the baby Jesus. In what ways is your faith being stretched this Christmas season? •• Would you believe an angel in a dream telling you to stand by your pregnant fiancée that you had not been intimate with? •• Describe how Joseph must have felt the night of Christ’s birth. •• How does his faith inspire or encourage you?

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Monday—December 26  •  To Be or Not To Be For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside. Job 23:11 NLT

What did you want to be when you grew up? A fireman? A cowboy? An astronaut? A pilot? Many men know from an early age what occupation they would like to achieve. Let’s say you dreamed of being a fireman. You might volunteer at the fire department, then go to firefighter school, stay in shape and eventually attain that goal. If your goal is to be a pilot, you could go for flying lessons early in life. But, what if your eyes don’t pass the test and you can’t reach your goal? Some of us have had great successes and others have met with great

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disappointment. Goals are essential in life, but we must wrestle with the fact that some goals are reachable and some will remain unmet. We can greet achievement with pride or humility and failure with anger or acceptance. In the midst of reaching goals and dealing with unmet goals, He asks us to trust Him either way. Our ultimate goal is to honor and glorify God with the totality of our lives. MIMBS 12 What are some of the unmet goals in your life? How have you handled them? Daily Reading: Zechariah 9:1-17, Revelation 17:1-18, Psalm 145:1-21, Proverbs 30:32

Tuesday—December 27  •  Planned and Unplanned Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path. Roman’s 9:32 NLT

There’s a quote from Gary Anderson that says, “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” Those words sound great, unless you’re on a road trip to Disney World with a car full of kids! We are all rather destination-oriented. Whether it’s driving to work, boarding an airplane, or painting the living room, we want to get there fast or get done fast. The finish line is our goal. It is a challenge to view traffic jams or power outages as little more than an inconvenience. Part of our spiritual walk is staying alert and sensitive to all of life’s circumstances— the planned and unplanned. God will use us in mighty ways in the mundane, everyday

occurrences. Events like a neighbor’s flooded basement, our wife’s flat tire, or our boss’s health crisis give you a chance to bless someone in your life. Looking to be used by God in your neighborhood or workplace? Keep your eyes, mind and heart open for those small opportunities that may come your way. MIMBS 12 Looks for little ways to serve or help someone this week. Share with your group some of those opportunities. Daily Reading: Zechariah 10:1-11:17, Revelation 18:1-24, Psalm 146:1-10, Proverbs 30:33

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Wednesday—December 28  •  Joy in the Journey

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Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. Hebrews 12:13 NLT If you’ve ever watched the Ironman in Hawaii, you might say that event is all about the finish line. It is a grueling, hot race of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run. It is a true test of endurance, and not everyone crosses the finish line. Team Hoyt’s Ironman story caught my attention and touched my heart. Rick Hoyt has Cerebral Palsy and is wheelchair bound, so his father, Dick, does the Ironman with him. Dick pulls Rick in a boat while swimming, peddles a specially-made bike for two and pushes Rick in the wheelchair on the run. I’m sure finishing is very important, but that’s not the reason Dick and Rick have

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run over 1,000 races. At age 70, Dick keeps racing because Rick says, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.” It doesn’t matter where they place in the race; this event is all about Rick’s journey and their journey together as father and son. Achieving the goal is fantastic but they are blessed by participating and they bless others by the love they have for each other. MIMBS 12 How is Dick like our heavenly Father? What impact does God have on our earthly journey? Daily Reading: Zechariah 12:1-13:9, Revelation 19:1-21, Psalm 147:1-20, Proverbs 31:1-7

Thursday—December 29  •  In His Time

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4 NLT One of our friends is a true prayer warof her son. She had prayed for him to come rior. Carol prays each morning and every to God for 35 years! After three and a half night as she brings her own needs and the decades, those requests finally came about needs of many others to the throne of God. for the loving, faithful mother and her son. She has prayed for the health of sick When her goal was not met or her children, marriages that are prayer seemed to go unanclose to ruin, the financial swered, she could have crises of many businessgiven up or become angry men, patients on their with God. Instead, she deathbed and other trusted God for His situations. timing and for His Perhaps Carol’s hand on her son’s most faithful prayer life. MIMBS 12 has been for the life of one of her own chilWhat do you do when dren. Her beloved son your prayers seemingly go had made bad choices unanswered? Do you continue in life, hurt many people to trust God with the outcome? (including Carol), and was on a Daily Reading: Zechariah 14:1-21, Revelation path of destruction. Carol had spent hours 20:1-15, Psalm 148:1-14, Proverbs 31:8-9 on her knees, crying out to God on behalf

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Friday and Saturday—December 30, 31  •  Be Faithful Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith. Philippians 1:25

Donald Grey Barnhouse was the pastor of the Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. His successor, James Montgomery Boyce, told a story about Barnhouse counseling a young woman on a sidewalk just outside the doors of the church. She said, “I’m a Christian, and eventually I want to be committed to serving the Lord.” First, she wanted to be famous and pursue a life on the stage. Pastor Barnhouse took out a key, walked over to the mailbox, and made a scratch. Then he said to the young woman, “God will allow you to scratch the surface of worldly success, but He’s never going to let you get all the way to the top. He’ll let you get close enough so that you can see it and feel it, but he’ll never let you get all the way to the top because He is not willing to share His affection with anything or anyone.” Several years passed when the pastor bumped into the young woman again. She shared that her life had indeed turned out very much like he said. She had a little brush with success on

the stage; she even had her picture on a national magazine once. During periods of deep discouragement she would often close her eyes, and picture that scratch on the mailbox. She realized that she was able to scratch the surface of worldly success, but God allowed nothing to take the place of Himself. God is doing the same with us. Anytime we make an idol out of anything He will not tolerate it. No matter how good or how righteous it is, if it stands between Him and us, it is wrong. It’s important for each of us to understand that no matter our goal or our path, it is not our job to produce a particular outcome. Our job is to be faithful, and God’s job is to do whatever He wants, because He is God. MIMBS 12 As you look forward to a New Year, do you trust God to do whatever He wants to do in your life? Daily Reading: Malachi 1:1-4:6, Revelation 21:122:21, Psalm 149:1-150:6, Proverbs 31:10-31

For Your Small Group

❏❏ For December 26–31: Spend some time praying together for God to guide you as you set goals for the coming year. •• Did you have any unmet goals this year? How did you handle those unmet goals? •• If you feel led, set 2–3 goals for the coming year at the end of your prayer time. •• Do your goals allow you to hear and see ways where you can serve others?

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Be Part of a Revolution Journey to Biblical Manhood .

America has a “men problem” that has overwhelmed families, divorce courts, schools, and the criminal justice system. It has also made Dr. Phil a very rich man. Christians are not immune. Many Christian men lead lukewarm, often defeated, lives—and they hate it. Unfortunately, research continues to show that churches have not been able to figure out how to engage these men in a successful discipleship process. Most churches are pulled in too many directions and don’t have the resources to focus on discipling their men. They typically don’t have the systematic procedures to meet men “right where they are” and take them to the next level in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

The Audience

We believe this gives us an opportunity to train and equip receptive churches in a proven men’s discipleship process that will help men lead powerful lives transformed by Christ.

The Journey employs the following five strategic principles:

Strategic Principles

2. Led by area directors. It will be led by a self-funded, regional field staff (“area directors”) who recruit and then assist churches to implement the system.

Based on 25 years of experience working with more than 25,000 churches, we have created The Journey to Biblical Manhood, a comprehensive and flexible system that equips church leaders to reach and disciple all the men in their church. It’s ideal for small groups or one-on-one discipleship. It is an intentional discipleship process that: 44Equips and trains leaders in the No Man Left Behind Model for church

men’s discipleship, so they can build a sustainable ministry to men 44Ministers to men’s most deeply felt needs 44Equips men to understand who God created them to be 44Trains men as godly husbands, fathers, and sons 44Infuses men with the confidence and courage they need to complete

their mission in life When a church engages in The Journey, its leaders receive step-by-step instructions for implementing any or all of the following 12 Challenges with all their men. 1. Mastering the Essentials of Biblical Manhood 2. Building a Firm Foundation in the Gospel 3. Building Godly Relationships and Marriages 4. Fathering the Hearts of Our Children/ Grandchildren 5. Becoming a Spiritually Disciplined Man

The target audience for The Journey is all men who attend church or who are open to spiritual ideas. Even a very effective “men’s ministry” will only engage 10-30% of the men in a church. The tools provided by The Journey are designed to help leaders go beyond a traditional “men’s ministry” to reach every man in the church—especially men on the fringe—and those who would not normally attend a men’s Bible study or small group. We call this the “all-inclusive ministry to men” concept.

1. Church-based. It reaches men by targeting those already attending churches and, through them, men in the community.

The Solution

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Each challenge consists of Faith & Life Objectives (to be given to all the men in the church), a pre- and post-assessment, suggestions for curriculum options to use in the challenge, suggested service projects and activities to engage men in the challenge, email templates with links to free resources to distribute to men, graphics files, PowerPoint files, a timeline, and more. The main content of a challenge can be communicated at a retreat, in a class, in small groups, or through one-to-one discipleship.

6. Serving God in Our Work 7. Committing to a Personal Ministry 8. Using Money for God’s Glory 9. Living as a Man of Integrity and Character 10. Being Shaped by Suffering 11. Growing in Leadership 12. Developing a Life Mission

3. Flexible design. It allows churches of various sizes and various levels of men’s ministry experience to customize the system to fit their needs. 4. Comprehensive. The 12 challenges of The Journey address the key issues with which men tend to struggle and, if addressed, can lead to transformation. 5. Online, subscription-based resources. It is web-based, with implementation materials provided online to churches who have registered to use the system. Man in the Mirror has statistical evidence that our process of men’s discipleship works. In a 2010 independently verified survey, leaders who implemented the principles behind The Journey over the previous 2.5 years had an average 48% increase in the number of men attending their church and an 84% increase in the number of men involved in discipleship. We also have proven concepts for reaching men. Of the men who have attended MIM’s 1,100+ events since 1996, 33% have committed or recommitted their lives to Christ and 67% have joined a follow-up small group.

Implementation Phases The Journey will be implemented in three phases. 44Phase I: Design & Pilot Implementation (July—December 2011) 44Phase II: Going Public (January—December 2012) 44Phase III: Final Rollout (January 2013—ongoing)

Are you ready to see God do something great in the lives of men? To find out how the men of your church can go through The Journey, visit www.maninthemirror.org.

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What's a Man, Anyway? continued from page 5

F

Faith—“Holding on to the One who will never let you go.” I shared with my son

how the Bible says that all of our life should be ordered around loving and worshipping God. We don’t have faith in our own effort, or even in our own faith and belief; we have faith in Christ who is majestic and strong. He is the one who can do in us what we could never do for ourselves. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Romans 3:21-22a).

L

Leadership—“Following His vision, serving others, and loving people well.” We talked about the how the gospel compels us to want to make a difference in the lives of other people. There will always be contrary voices trying to distract you and other men; God calls us to follow His trail and bring along as many others as we can. “Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28).

I

Integrity—“Making the way you live match what you believe.” In a world of temptation, the gospel gives us the power to obey. It’s not our self-effort that allows us to avoid sinful behaviors, but rather a heart that worships and desires to honor Jesus Christ. When the glory of Christ is more important than my short-term desires, integrity is assured. How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands (Psalm 119:9-10).

P

Perseverance—“Allowing the hope that God gives to help you push through hard times.” We will all face difficulty and suffering. The gospel gives us the key to

making it through. Jesus says there is something greater and more lasting than this life. Because we have a sure hope before us tomorrow, we can endure the hard times we face today. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD (Lamentations 3:24-26). It was a wonderful experience. We rode some great roller coasters, and more importantly, had some great discussions about what it means to be a man. We had blue wristbands made for the conclusion of the trip—one for him, one for me, and the others for him to distribute in the months ahead. Each wristband is embossed with the letters F. L. I. P. as a reminder of how the gospel teaches us to be real men. Do you know young men who are confused about true manhood? Tell them to forget the nonsense of modern American caricatures and to F. L. I. P. out instead.

• David Delk

David is President of Man in the Mirror. He is the author or co-author of five books, including The Marriage Prayer, The Dad in the Mirror, and No Man Left Behind. He lives in Orlando, Florida, with his wife, Ruthie, and three children.

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Equipping the Man int he Mirror October, November, December 2011  

Men's Christian Devotional Magazine

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