Table of Contents
Not sure of your next move? Get equipped with the vision and strategy to disciple every man in your church.
q The Absolute Necessity of Reaching Younger Men by David Delk. . . . . . . . . . . 3 q Ten Commandments for Becoming a Godly Man by Dr. Patrick Morley. . . . . . 4 q Having the “Talk” With Your Son by Brett Clemmer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 q Mark Batterson on Reaching Younger Men . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 q Mark Batterson on His Book. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 q What Leaders Have to Say About Reaching Young Men for Christ . . . . . . . . . 58
q Equipping Your Men’s Small Group. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 q How to Use This Devotional. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 q Resource Catalog. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
q July 2010 Devotions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 q August 2010 Devotions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 q September 2010 Devotions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
No Man Left Behind
Train Your Leaders No Man Left Behind Conference Portland, OR—October 7-9 Dallas, TX—October 21-23 Orlando, FL—November 11-13
Boston, MA—October 14-16 Kansas City, MO—November 4-6
At the end of many of the devotionals you will find an abbreviation for a resource that expands on the devotional material. If you’d like to order a book like The Young Man in the Mirror, go to http://bookstore. maninthemirror.org/ or for more information about the MIMBS (Man in the Mirror Bible Study) go to www.maninthemirror.org/biblestudy/register.htm. :MIMBS 1—Enjoying God :MIMBS 2—One Year Bible: The Ten Commandments :MIMBS 3—One Year Bible—Do Something iImportant with Your Life :MIMBS 4—How to Win the Battle for Your Soul: Quarrels and Divisions
:MIMBS 5—Spiritual Progress :MIMBS 6—Why Men Don’t Get It :MIMBS 7—Show Men How to Build Their Lives :MIMBS 8—What a Leader Needs to Know :MIMBS 9—Understanding a Child’s Heart YMIM —The Young Man in the Mirror: Chapters 12 and 13
Equipping the Man in the Mirror: July/August/September 2010, Vol. 5, No. 3 Publisher: Man in the Mirror, Inc. • CEO: Patrick Morley • Executive Editors: David Delk and Brett Clemmer Publication Manager: Lucy Blair • Art Director: Cathleen Kwas • Contributing Editor: Stephanie Lopez Writers: Lucy Blair, Ruth Ford, Jamie Smith, and Chuck Stecker Office: 180 Wilshire Blvd., Casselberry, Florida 32707 Phone: 800-929-2536 • Fax: 407-331-7839 • Web site: www.maninthemirror.org
No Man Left Behind Essentials Quakertown, PA—June 25-26 Baton Rouge, LA—TBA
We invited Dr. Chuck Stecker, President and Founder of A Chosen Generation, to be our guest devotional writer this issue. His inspiring devotionals can be found on pages 53-55. Chuck and his wife, Billie, live in Colorado and are proud parents and grandparents. For more information on Chuck and his ministry, go to www.achosengeneration.org.
Oklahoma City, OK—December 3-5 New York City Area—TBA
Watch a free presentation of the No Man Left Behind Model at maninthemirror.org/nmlb/model.htm. For more details or to register, call us at 800.929.2536 or 407.472.2100.
Copyright © 2010 by Patrick Morley and Man in the Mirror, Inc. All rights reserved. Subscription Information: One year—$25. Two years—$43. For reprint requests or bulk subscriptions call 407-472-2100 or send an email to EQMIM@maninthemirror.org and ask for reprint permissions. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked the message are taken from the The Message by Eugene H. Peterson, copyright ©1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. All 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.
The Absolute Necessity of Reaching Younger Men
by David Delk, President, Man in the Mirror . The plight of young men in our culture is a popular topic today. From The New York Times to USA Today, recent articles have highlighted the difficulties young men have integrating into adult society and churches. A representative recent statistic: by 2019, only 39% of all college degrees will be awarded to men.* Some experts attribute these problems to a prolonged “adolescence” (a fairly modern term). Simply put, too many young men are carrying the attitudes and perspectives of a young teenager into their early thirties. They are avoiding the commitments of traditional adulthood—marriage, career, home ownership—for the transience of serial dating, job hopping, and moving back in with their parents. What’s going on? And what does the gospel have to say to The church can keep from these men? I have two sons, 19 and 14. (Plus a 17-year-old daughter.) These questions are not just academic for me. They are real life.
losing this generation if we will offer them a compelling vision of who they are and how God can use them.
God wants men to challenge the status quo, to stand up and be counted, to be beacons of light in the darkness. Yet many young men are wandering aimlessly with no real sense of greater purpose. Video games, hanging out, the Internet, sports and hobbies—these occupy the hearts and minds of men who have not latched on to greater things. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, a person will think playing in a muddy road is fun if they have never had a vacation at the beach. The church can keep from losing this generation if we will offer them a compelling vision of who they are and how God can use them. The gospel calls all men—young and old—to live in light of our new life in Christ. Our true identity is found in our status as God’s sons. And we have the privilege of living as members of His family. So how can we help young men grasp their true nature and purpose in Christ? Start with a purposeful relationship. Would you commit, right now, to pray that God would put a younger man in your path who wants to be discipled? Then make it a permanent part of your life to spend time with him regularly talking about spiritual things. You might even use the devotions and weekly questions from this magazine as an easy place to start. Reaching younger men may be difficult, but we really don’t have any choice. The fate of the church and world is at stake. And the benefits are amazing. Jesus did it— and a group of young men changed the world. * http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d09/tables/dt09_268.asp, accessed 5/3/2010
Ten Commandments for Becoming a Godly Man
by Dr. Patrick Morley . When you look at the church, do you see men leading powerful, transformed lives? Though there are inspiring exceptions, most men lead tepid, lukewarm, defeated lives. Why is that? In Matthew 22:29, Jesus told some confused religious leaders, “The problem is that you do not know the Scriptures and you do not know the power of God.” The core problem is that these men have never been discipled to be a godly man, husband, and father. They don’t understand what it means to follow Christ—not really. Who’s to blame? It doesn’t matter. What matters is this: evangelism without discipleship is cruel.
streets made for golf carts. Doesn’t it make sense to invest today into the woman who will be sitting next to you then? Pray with and for your wife.
Disciple Your Children (if you have them). Bring them up in the fear and instruction of the Lord (see Psalm 78:1-8). You cannot delegate this role to a youth pastor. If your children are doing well, then all of your other problems will fit into a thimble. You can bring your children up under grace or law, but grace is better. If you bring them up in a legalistic home, they’re probably going to leave as soon as they can and come home as little as possible (see Ephesians 6:4). No amount of success at work will ever be adequate to compensate for failure at home.
Participate in a Disciple-Making Church. There’s a big difference between attending and participating. And there’s a big difference between a Bible-believing church and a disciple-making church—you want both. Body life is one of the main places where “neighbor love” plays out. This is also the main venue for your stewardship and service. Here’s where you can learn your spiritual gifts and find your ministry niche. Consider how the church meets the needs of our families: weddings, baptisms, communion, confirmations, funerals, fellowship dinners, evangelistic outreaches, worship services, preaching, spiritual education, ministry opportunities, softball leagues, small groups, mother’s day out, hospital visits, and more. And what would America look like without the church? Where would the great hospitals, schools, universities, food banks, homeless shelters, inner city youth works, homes for unwed mothers, voices for abstinence from premarital sex or the right to life, and those who advance Christ’s kingdom be? As someone said, “The church has many critics, but no rivals.”
So here are “ Ten Commandments for Becoming a Godly Man.” Use them to help your men become disciples—especially younger men. Remedial discipleship is good, but how much better to help men get it right the first time? Feel free to give it your own personal touch.
Become a Student of Who God Is and What God Is Doing. You have to have the right information. “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge” (Proverbs 19:2). Many men fail at this exact point. At the beginning of a meeting I like to ask, “What’s the purpose of our meeting?” We will always do better when we understand what God is doing, and what life is all about. So what is the main thing God is doing? God is sovereignly orchestrating all human events to bring us into right relationship with Him and right relationship with each other (the Great and Second Commandments).
Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength. This is the first and greatest commandment (see Matthew 22:37-40). We are to love God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—with every ounce of our energy, the sum of our strength, the totality of our being. We are to bring an intensity to loving God. Can we do this perfectly? Of course not, as someone has said, “Conversion is to give as much of yourself as you can to as much of God as you can understand, and to do so every day.” Live as a son, not an orphan. J.I. Packer wrote, “Adoption is the highest privilege the gospel offers.” If we get this one thing right, everything else will fall into line.
If Married, Make Your Wife Your Top Priority, After God, But Before All Others. Let’s face it: you are really the only two people who are in this thing together. Everyone else will phase in and out of your lives, even your children—hopefully! Some day there will only be two rocking chairs sitting side by side. All your buddies will have moved down to Florida to live in little condominium pods and drive around on
Do Life Together with Some Men in a Small Group. In my experience, much of the real transformation in men’s lives takes place in small groups. I think several factors are involved. First, men get “air time” to flesh out the concepts for themselves—concepts that can take decades to fully grasp. They get to “observe” how other men react to the same concepts (e.g., are they solemn, joyful, convicted, encouraged?). They see “changed life” in other men. A small group provides “visibility” and “accountability” a man doesn’t get any other way. Finally, if it’s a men’s only group, he can talk about male specific issues in a male specific way.
Practice the Spiritual Disciplines. The happiest men I’ve known practice the spiritual disciplines, especially 1) reading the Bible regularly, 2) praying with and for their wives, 3) tithing, 4) a small group, 5) active in a church, and 6) serving the Lord. You can Google for “spiritual disciplines” or get my book, A Man’s Guide to the Spiritual Disciplines. By the way, I’ve never personally known a man who tithed who was not happy. Keep “short accounts” with God. Put away doubtful habits. Make repentance a lifestyle. Obedience is the trademark of a Biblical Christian. “The one who obeys me is the one who loves me” (John 14:15, 21, 23). The goal is to change the core affections of your heart. That’s the pathway to a deep relationship with God, and to continually experience His power and presence. continued on page 60
Having the “Talk” With Your Son by Brett Clemmer, Vice President, Man in the Mirror A few months ago, my son and I spent a few days together at the beach. It was great to go away together—just us guys. We swam, played miniature golf, walked on the beach and pigged out. We also had “the talk.” It was awesome. A friend of mine told me about “Passport 2 Purity” (P2P) from Family Life. It’s a series of audio messages on CD with a workbook for the kid and the parent. There’s a version for boys and girls. Dennis Rainey talks in a very straightforward, “man-to-man” fashion and leaves nothing out. Most importantly, he does it from a biblical worldview without being preachy. Every dad knows he needs to do this, but a lot of us don’t know where to start. So here are a few ideas on giving your son “the talk.”
WHY should you do it? First of all, it’s a dad’s responsibility to equip his son to be successful in life. There may not be another area than sexuality with more potential for harm to a young man’s life, or the potential for him to do harm to a young woman. I want my son to be prepared and to understand the responsibilities and consequences of his behavior. More practically, by preparing him in advance, it makes me the expert—as opposed to friends or websites—so that he is more disposed to come talk to me when he has a question, problem or concern. I want his first thought to be, “Dad’s cool with this stuff. I know I can talk to him.”
WHEN should you do it? If possible, before they are an adolescent. It’s important that they have the information they need to understand what’s happening to their body, mind and spirit during puberty. It’s a crazy time with lots of weird stuff happening. I owed it to my son to equip him to go through the experience. Our beach trip was the month before his 13th birthday. It was a good opportunity—my in-laws had given us their timeshare. God orchestrated it, so I took advantage of the circumstances (with my wife’s encouragement, I might add).
HOW should you do it? Try to get away for a couple of days together. I can’t see walking into your son’s room one day and saying, “Son, we need to have a talk.” I mean, really Dad? Now? For my son and me the weekend was really just the beginning. We’ve had many smaller “talks” since then when he’s asked a question, told me what he’s feeling, or made jokes that are really an effort to demystify the whole subject. (We’ve had several laughs about “pecans,”“almonds,”“peanuts,”“cashews,” etc. I want his first thought If I have to explain that to you, never mind.)
WHAT do I say?
to be, “Dad’s cool with this stuff. I know I can talk to him.”
Take my advice: use someone’s material. I love the fact that Dennis Rainey put a bunch of time and energy into figuring out the best way to communicate the right material. He said stuff I wasn’t looking forward to saying, but it needed to be said.
The P2P material covered God, Peer Pressure, Sex, Dating and Purity. It gives you fun little object lessons to use that help get conversations started. It makes the case for setting firm boundaries to protect yourself and the purity of the girl you’re dating.
SO, how did it go? Honestly, we had fun! There were several times when we just looked at each other and cracked up. It was a relief to me to get all the information out there, and, I think, a relief for him to fill in some of the blanks he had. He knew both more and less than I thought he did. And toward the end, he gave me a big hug, looked me in the eye and said, “Dad, I know this is kind of awkward stuff, but I’m so glad you talked to me about it. Thank you.” This time together accomplished something much more important than my son learning about “the birds and the bees.” It deepened our relationship in a way that was totally unexpected. And that was the best part—for both of us.
Get away with your preteen or teenager for a one-on-one adventure of a lifetime! Passport2Purity will guide you and your son or daughter through biblical principles for life’s most difficult challenges, including dating and those other difficult topics to discuss. It will lead you through an encouraging do-it-yourself retreat full of discovery, communication and fun. The kit includes a leader’s manual, a student manual, CDs featuring Dennis and Barbara Rainey, a passport, and seals. For more information on this resource go to www.shopfamilylife.com/ passport-2-purity.html
Mark Batterson on Reaching Younger Men . •You’re • the lead pastor of a church in DC. Tell us a little about it. National Community Church is one church with nine services at five locations around the metro DC area. We are nearly 70% single twenty-somethings. The vision of NCC is to meet in movie theaters at metro stops around the DC area. We also own and operate Ebenezers, the largest coffeehouse on Capitol Hill. Every penny of profit goes to local outreach and foreign missions.
I heard a sermon when I was 19 about one of David’s mighty men who chased a lion into a pit on a snowy day and killed it. I fell in love with that story in 2 Samuel 23:20. It took 15 years to write the book, but the genesis was that sermon.
•Why • do you think so many younger men are drawn to your church? I think one key is authenticity. We try to “keep it real” and deal with the issues that young adults are wrestling with. Another key has been to challenge young men to step up and make a difference. We do a lot of community service, mission trips, and servant evangelism. I think we’re all looking to be part of something bigger than us and more important than us. I think the gospel message is that something.
I’ve gotten emails from everyone from professional athletes to pastors to film producers. The common denominator in almost every story is the fact that God used the book as a catalyst. It was the push they needed to take a holy risk. Here is just one example excerpted from an email I received recently:
We live in a culture where it is wrong to say something is wrong. It takes tremendous moral courage to say no to what is wrong and stand up for what is right. The fundamental temptations we face haven’t changed since the Garden of Eden, but technology has intensified them in some ways and the gospel of tolerance has intensified them in other ways.
•What • experiences shaped you as a young man? I’m a failed church planter. I tried to plant a church while I was in seminary but it imploded before we could get it off the ground. It was embarrassing when it happened, but I learned some valuable lessons. I’m not tempted to take credit for what God is doing at NCC because I’m aware of what I’m capable of. Or maybe I should say incapable of.
•Was • there someone that impacted you as a young man (teens or twenties)? My father-in-law had a huge impact on me. He planted and pastored a church in Naperville, Illinois, for more than 30 years. I saw what can happen if you plant yourself in one place and let your roots grow deep. His example inspired my desire to pastor one church for life.
•What • one piece of advice do you have for those reaching out to young men? Don’t dumb-down or water-down the gospel. Challenge them with the straight-up gospel. Young men don’t want half-truths. They don’t want the path of least resistance. They want truth that is hard to swallow. They want a gospel that demands their entire lives! Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC., recognized as one of the Most Innovative and Most Influential Churches in America by Outreach Magazine in 2008. He is a daily blogger at www.markbatterson. com. Mark is married to Lora and they live on Capitol Hill with their three children: Parker, Summer, and Josiah.
You’ve heard the phrase, “No guts, No glory.” Let me redeem that old adage. When we don’t have the guts to chase lions we rob God of the glory that rightfully belongs to Him. God has not called us to play it safe. Our greatest regrets at the end of our lives will be the risks we didn’t take, the opportunities we didn’t seize, and the experiences we forfeited out of fear.
•What • are the biggest issues facing young men today?
Mark Batterson on His Book
I graduated from law school last May, passed the bar exam, and was ready to start working at a big DC law firm. However, due to the economic free-fall, my start date got pushed back to January. In late December, I got the news that my start date was indefinitely deferred and that my firm would be paying me until December 2010 to stay away from the office. Although a lot of my friends think this is the “coolest thing ever,” I was distraught and disappointed. Your book helped change that disappointment into a bold opportunity. An opportunity that certainly would not have been possible if I was working 70 hours a week at a law firm. My wife and I have been pretty interested in sex trafficking issues for a while, but we have never really had the chance to do anything about it. After hearing a few sermons at church and reading In a Pit, I knew this was our chance to take a big, albeit unorthodox, stand against injustice. We’re moving to Cambodia for two months this summer, where we’ll be volunteering with an organization that helps rescue young girls from sex slavery. God put this burning desire on our hearts in a big way. After reading In a Pit, I knew this was our chance to do the Lord’s work and all that job-related disappointment instantly turned into thanksgiving. —Andrew What has God put on your heart? What God-ordained opportunity is in front of you right now? Order Mark’s book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day for your small group. It is a tremendous value—a case of 12 for only $23! Go to www.maninthemirror.org for more information.
Face life like a man—a godly man!
Equipping Your Men’s Small Group
Get all your men engaged in the regular study of God’s Word by using this magazine as a small group tool. At the end of each week’s devotions, you’ll see a box containing discussion questions and exercises. These can form the basis of your time together. These pages supplement those questions with additional steps.
Available as a video Bible Study on CD or DVD
A Man’s Guide to Inevitable Events 12 audio/video messages on CD 12 chapters with discussion questions
st reque Call to sample ree your f ping the ip of Equ e Mirror! th n i Man
12 chapters with discussion questions
These resources from Man in the Mirror will help you and the men of your church pursue authentic, biblical manhood. www.maninthemirror.org 800-929-2536
e with your men use this magazin
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find the foundajoy in your life to of es tim e th d ✔✔Tracke tion for that joy. al gifts and y about the spiritu gu r ge un yo a to ✔✔Talked from. where they come d you to make ns that have helpe tio es qu me so en ✔✔Writt g to God’s will. ct decisions accordin y in life can impa ning integrity earl ar le w ho d se us ✔✔Disc men. the lives of young the Ten otective nature of pr e th t ou ab d ne ✔✔Lear Commandments. the Red the Fellowship of of s er mb me e om ✔✔Bec ionBandanna. e where the relat lif ur yo in e on me ✔✔Reached out to so ation. ship needed restor 36:26-27. cted on Ezekiel fle re d an ed iz or ✔✔Mem ur life who need three people in yo or o tw r fo ed ay Pr ✔✔ of the Gospel. the simple truth given you a people who have ny ma e th r fo ✔✔Given thanks undation. strong spiritual fo and our country’s leaders r ou r fo g in ay pr ✔✔Committed to nation. ng and tween God’s calli be ce en er ff di e ✔✔Discussed th urch or man’s ambition. ung men in your ch yo e th r fo y it tiv ✔✔Planned an ac community. Continued on page 12
8/16-8/22: This week your men will look at how God changes us from
Small Group Guide continued from page 11
the inside out. SAS: In the next few days memorize and reflect on this verse, I (God) will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Ezekiel 36:26-27
7/1-7/4: This week’s devotions gave us insight into maintaining joy
in the midst of life’s circumstances. Suggested Application Step (SAS): Throughout this next week, track the times that you are experiencing joy to see if your joy is based on your circumstances. Come back next week ready to share your findings.
7/5–7/11: These devotions focus our growth in our relationship with the Lord. When we realize that the fruits are a gift rather than a discipline, our focus turns from inward to upward. SAS: Find a younger guy to have coffee with and talk about the spiritual gifts. Share this insight with him and discuss it. From last week: Discuss what we found out was the basis for our joy.
8/23–8/29: This week’s devotionals will help you to remember the simple truth of the Gospel. SAS: Ask each man to think of two or three people who need the simple truth of the Gospel. Throughout the next week, continue to pray for those people and how God wants to use you in their lives. In three weeks, check in with one another to share any progress in those relationships. 8/30–9/5: These devotions focus on the importance of having
a strong spiritual foundation. SAS: This week reflect back on your spiritual life to see how your spiritual foundation was formed and strengthened. Were there Sunday school teachers, grandparents or other mentors who “laid the bricks” of your spiritual foundation? Give thanks to God and to that person for the important role they played in your life.
7/12–7/18: This week you will read about what it means to make decisions according to God’s will and how you can help younger men with that process. SAS: Write down some questions that have helped you as you’ve made important decisions. Share the questions that you listed and the wisdom you’ve learned about decision-making with a younger man.
9/6–9/12: This week you’ll learn about a nation in ruins and that nation’s 7/19–7/25: Our devotional theme this week is about having integrity in the big things and small things of life. SAS: Think about ways that you have seen men display integrity and ways that men have lost their integrity. How can our group show integrity to the young men in our church or community? Discuss the changes that could take place in those young men if they learned integrity early in life.
strong leader, Nehemiah. SAS: Think about some things you find discouraging about our country’s state of affairs. Instead of complaining about these things, are you willing to commit to praying for your country’s leaders and trust God for the outcomes of those situations?
9/13–9/19: These devotions will help your group learn about God’s
calling and man’s ambition. SAS: Discuss some ways to help you differentiate between God’s calling and your own ambition. List some ways we can help one another pursue God’s calling. From three weeks ago, share any updates on those relationships that needed restoration.
7/26–8/1: This week your men will take a fresh look at the Ten
Commandments. SAS: Before you read the devotions this week, did you realize that the purpose of the Ten Commandments was for our protection? Did that realization change your perspective? Explain your perspective now.
8/2–8/8: This week you’ll learn the story of Welles Crowther and what it
means to leave a true legacy. SAS: Go to the website, www.redbandanna. org, to learn how to conduct your own Red Bandanna ceremony and induct your group members into this special fellowship of men.
8/9- 8/15: These devotions focus on resolving conflicts and
restoring relationships. SAS: After a few minutes of prayer, ask each man to examine his heart to see if there is a relationship in his life that needs restoration. Over the next week, reach out to that person who came to mind and allow God to work in your heart toward restoring that relationship.
9/20–9/26: In the devotions this week, you’ll see the importance of “doing life together” with younger men. SAS: Discuss and plan an activity for the younger men in your church or community. Make sure that the purpose of the activity is to be with the younger guys and have fun together.
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 small group resources, look on page 32 for great books to read and study.
How to Use This Devotional
Included in every issue of Equipping the Man in the Mirror are devotionals for Mondays through Thursdays, and one for the weekends. To make the most of your reading we have dissected a devotional so you don’t miss any aspect of the magazine (see below).
One-year Bible daily reading
Thursday—July 1 • Your Foundation Matters A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord. Proverbs 19:3
Have you noticed how angry some people seem to be at God these days? Many of the “New Atheists” seem to be in a bitter feud with a being they say doesn’t even exist. Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wrote that when men pursue a life built on a foundation other than God and Jesus, they invariably move away from peace and joy and become angry and bitter. Comedian George Carlin, known for his “dirty words” routine, once called religion the dirtiest word he knew. “To surrender all reason and potential of the human mind to a Man in the sky who exists just to punish you seems very primitive to me.” That’s not just a misunderstanding, that’s slander! God doesn’t want anyone to abandon reason, and He is the one who gave you your potential. Before you lash out at God for your life not going the way you want it to, do a quick reality check. Is it your own “folly”—bad decisions, broken relationships, emotional outbursts—that have caused your frustrations? Turn your heart to Him and commit your life to the influence of His Word and Spirit. He will make your paths straight. MIMBS 1 Has your life been characterized lately by anger and bitterness or peace and joy? What might this tell you about your foundations? What does the Gospel have to offer other angry men you know? Daily Reading: 2 Kings 18:13-19:37, Acts 21:1-17, Psalm 149:1-9, Proverbs 18:8
Friday, Saturday, Sunday—July 2, 3, 4 Joy That Defies Circumstances We’re depending on God; he’s everything we need. What’s more, our hearts brim with joy since we’ve taken for our own his holy name. Love us, God, with all you’ve got—that’s what we’re depending on. Psalm 33:20-22, The Message
Brenda accepted Christ when she was 12. But at 25 she was a single mom living on food stamps in a Section 8 apartment while attending nursing school and caring for a special needs child. At 28, her parents died in a natural disaster. Even through much pain and great loss, Brenda was a joyful person and had an enthusiasm for life. One evening she met Kurt. After talking for hours, she told him about her living situation, figuring that would be the end of any relationship they might have. The next morning Kurt showed up with a rose, saying he wanted to meet the kids. They’ve been a family pretty much ever since. You’ve heard of them—Kurt and Brenda Warner. He’s
won a Super Bowl, and been to another one. Brenda’s testimony is available at the website for the Kurt Warner Foundation called First Things First. She says that her life didn’t follow the path she had planned. But, she explains, we all have two choices: “Go through the bumpy road of life with Him (Jesus) or without Him. I choose to stay by His side.” Clearly, that’s the source of her joy. MIMBS 1 Do you experience joy in your life? Is it based on or in spite of your circumstances? How could you have more joy? Daily Reading: 2 Kings 20:1-25:30, Acts 21:1823:10, Psalm 150:1-6, Psalm 1:1 -2-12, Proverbs 18:9-13
For Your Small Group
❏❏ For July 1-4—Have someone read aloud the devotion for July 1, “Your Foundation Matters.” •• What are the different foundations you have seen people build their lives on? How can you tell what foundation a person’s life is built on? •• What are some of the shortcomings of these different foundations? •• Talk about your own foundations. What are the challenges to building a life based on your faith in God? How can you support each other? Want to firm up your spiritual foundation? Check out A Man’s Guide to the Spiritual Disciplines on page 31.
Monday —July 5 • Are You Growing or Plateau-ing?
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord , the Lord, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:3–4 Have you ever bumped into someone you haven’t seen for years? It’s fun when you see an old friend who is now doing wonderfully well. God has been working in their lives, through good times and bad. You can see their growth. Sometimes you run into old friends who really haven’t changed. They’re the same as they were 20 years ago. They’ve hit a plateau in their relationship with God, and they’ve been content to just stay there. And once in while, you even find someone
who has become angry and bitter because life turned out differently than he expected. What is the difference between the man who has grown, the one who has plateaued and the one who has become angry and bitter? Perhaps it comes down to who you trust the most. If I only trust myself, the best I can do is stop growing; or I might even become bitter at my own failures. If I trust in God—firmly and resolutely—I can be confident that He will always be there to strengthen me, in spite of my circumstances. MIMBS 1 If someone who was in your life 20 years ago ran into you today, what would they say about you? Have you plateau-ed in your relationship with God? What can you do to move forward? Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 1:1-2:17, Acts 23:11-35, Psalm 3:1-8, Proverbs 18:14-15
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. Romans 14:17–18 I remember when my daughter kept a list of the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:23. She’d say, “This week I’m going to work on love…” Or “This week I’m going to work on joy …” She came to a fresh understanding of the Gospel when someone explained that you don’t have to work to get these things. You don’t receive them through correct behavior, or through adequate knowledge. They are the fruit—the natural result—of having Christ in your life. This passage mentions “righteousness, peace and joy.” They also are fruit that happens in the life of a believer who comes into true relationship with God. Men who don’t see God as a loving Father tend to believe they must earn His favor.
Tuesday—July 6 • God’s Offer to You: An Abundant Life
The Bible describes God as your Creator. He ordained your days even before you were born. He knows you intimately. He knows when you sit and when you get up. He knows your thoughts—good, bad, and ugly. And He knows what you will say before it comes from your lips. He also loves you, and He invites you into relationship with Him. Some people view God as a “boss” who offers a contract demanding a certain level of performance. But in reality, God wants to relate with you as your loving Father. He wants you to accept His offer of abundant life. And He wants you to experience it “to the full.”
Wednesday—July 7 • Righteousness, Peace and Joy
Because God is an infinite being, His supply of life is infinite. He reduced Himself to flesh and came to earth, so that we might comprehend Him. And in today’s Scripture passage, He gives His reason for that: He opened the way for us to tap into the fullness of His life. A man’s ability to grasp that simple fact will affect how he looks at everything. MIMBS 1 Talk with some guys in your small group or elsewhere about how you view God. As boss? Friend? Father? How does that affect your relationship with Him? Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 2:18-4:4, Acts 24:127, Psalm 4:1-8, Proverbs 18:16-18
They try to collect the right knowledge or live by a certain code of behavior. Men who are able to rest in His Fatherly love are better able to accept the gifts He offers. They accept His righteousness, and they experience joy and peace that defy explanation. MIMBS 1 List some Christian characteristics that you’ve tried to achieve by your own effort. Do those things fit into the category of “fruit,” which comes through long-term relationship with Christ? Discuss with a brother in Christ or your wife. Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 4:5-5:17, Acts 25:127, Psalm 5:1-12, Proverbs 18:19
Thursday—July 8 • Boundaries Offer Opportunity for Joy If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15:10–11
James Dobson offers a famous illustration about a group of elementary aged children joyously playing inside a fenced schoolyard. Some psychologists saw the fence as an artificial boundary, limiting the freedom these children needed if they were to flourish to their full potential. They took down the fence. Imagine their surprise when the children didn’t take advantage of the lack of limits. Instead, they huddled in a mass at the center of the playground. They quit playing, because they no longer knew where the boundaries were. Sometimes I get a mental picture of men in a similar situation. We huddle in masses because we don’t know where the boundaries are.
Augustine once said, “Love God and do what you want.” His comment underscores a simple truth. Relationship with God rewrites our desires, which in turn changes our behavior. According to today’s passage, the end result is joy, because of the tremendous freedom offered through recognizing our God-given boundaries. MIMBS 1 This devotional says, “Relationship with God rewrites our desires, which in turn changes our behavior.” Do you agree or disagree? Why? Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 5:18-6:8, Acts 26:132, Psalm 6:1-10, Proverbs 18:20-21
q Friday, Saturday, Sunday—July 9, 10, 11 • Fulfilling the Law
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7–8
Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:10 Knowledge of God should lead to a relationship with Him. And as that relationship changes our attitudes, we will find that obeying God brings joy. Perhaps that is most obvious when we do something for another person that reflects God’s love in a tangible way. Loving people is an excellent way to demonstrate the relationship we have with our Father God. I often say that my wife, Patsy, is the “Mother Teresa” of our home. She has taught me an awful lot about what it means to fulfill God’s law through loving people. I remember when she and two other women were conducting a Bible club for about 20 inner-city kids. As we neared Christmas, they decided to host a party for the children. They needed someone to serve pizza, so I went along. We pulled up at the apartment complex, and my wife got out of the car. Suddenly I saw a flock of kids waiting for her. They squealed as they ran up to her. They wrapped their arms around her. I watched her hug them back and squeal with the same joy they had expressed in seeing her. For the next couple of hours I watched these kids come to her; she would chat with each one and hug them. Her mission was to let each child know she loved them, just the way they were.
At the end of the evening I said to her and to the other women, “In the history of the world, this is something that will have made a difference.” Three middle-aged white women, going to an apartment complex on a weekly basis to meet with 20 elementary and middle school aged kids—and I was honored to be part of that. It showed me that loving others can be the most meaningful part of every day of our lives. MIMBS 1 How does love fulfill God’s law? How can you show God’s love to other people this week in a tangible way?
Ben was a good student, well-liked by his peers, and a respected football player. One morning at 4 a.m. he snuck out with his friends and went for a joy ride. They were not drinking; they were just having fun with his mom’s Mercedes. They got the car up to 130 mph when a curve appeared out of nowhere. Ben tried to slow down but the centrifugal force popped all four tires off the rims and he was thrown from the car, suffering brain damage. He would never play sports again and his hope for an athletic scholarship vanished. Just as Ben’s future changed in an instant, decisions that men make as teenagers and young adults may alter the rest of their lives. Young men often think they’re invincible; a choice that seems harmless at the
time can result in permanent consequences. Make a lasting impact on a young man’s life by teaching him the power of choice and what wise choices look like. Allow him to experience the consequences of his decisions, while guiding him along the way. The man he will become will, in large part, be defined by the choices he makes in these formative years. TYMIM Chapter 12 When you were younger, did you grasp the power behind your choices? How can you help teach young men wisdom? Is it difficult for you to allow those you care about to experience consequences? Why? Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 12:19-14:17, Romans 1:1-17, Psalm 9:13-20, Proverbs 19:4-5
Tuesday—July 13 • Moral vs. Priority Decisions If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:5
Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 7:1-12:18, Acts 27:1-28:31, Psalm 7:1-9:12, Proverbs 18:22– 19:3
For Your Small Group
❏❏ For July 5-11—Re-read the devotion from July 7, “Righteousness, Peace and Joy,” and then Galatians 5:16-26. •• What is the difference between the fruits being a gift versus a discipline? •• Which do you struggle with more, avoiding the “acts of the sinful nature” or displaying the “fruits of the Spirit”? •• Think of someone who exemplifies one or more of the fruits. Describe them to the group. What do you attribute their behavior to?
Monday—July 12 • Choices and Consequences
Not every decision is black and white. We are presented with two kinds of decisions every day: moral decisions and priority decisions. A moral decision is a choice between right and wrong, and is often obvious. When you’re helping young men make these decisions, direct them first to the Word and to what God says is the right choice, not their feelings or friends. Priority decisions, however, are not as clear. These decisions are a choice between right and right. Instead of discerning right from wrong, we have to discern good from better. In other words, there are no obvious moral implications for either choice. Young men may be choosing whether to go to trade school or college, what degree to pursue, whether or not to date, where to
work, what sport to focus on, etc. These choices can be a source of just as much anxiety as moral choices. As an older man who’s made many of these choices already, be intentional about offering to help them with both kinds of decisions, and to direct them to wisdom regardless. Be involved. TYMIM Chapter 12 What are examples of common moral decisions younger men face? Of priority decisions? Consider the young men God has placed in your life through family, church, sports, your neighborhood, etc. How can you be intentional about making yourself available? Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 15:1-16:36, Romans 1:18-32, Psalm 10:1-15, Proverbs 19:6-7
Wednesday—July 14 • Patient Decision-Making
q Friday, Saturday, Sunday—July 16, 17, 18 • Discerning God’s Will
I wait for the Lord , my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. Psalm 130:5 Have you ever rushed into a bad decision? Maybe circumstances made you feel rushed; maybe you didn’t stop to gather the facts or ask the right questions. You might have bought a used car without getting it checked out by a mechanic, only to have it end up a lemon. Or perhaps you agreed to a job transition without first discussing it with your wife. Frequently, young men make decisions based on short-term goals and desires, instead of long-term ones. As a result, they’re susceptible to making hasty decisions they later regret. Encourage them to slow down when faced with major decisions. If the right choice isn’t obvious, suggest they write things down to gain perspective, listing each option and its benefits
and consequences. Teach them the importance of operating out of fact instead of feeling. Most decisions become obvious given enough time and more information. If the answer still isn’t revealing itself, direct them to wait. Remind them that God is committed to working for their good and encourage them to let Him set the agenda; never rush God. He will make it clear in His timing. TYMIM Chapter 12 What hasty decision have you made that you later regretted? Think of a time when you were faced with a decision without an obvious answer. How did you approach it? Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 16:37-18:17, Romans 2:1-24, Psalm 10:16-18, Proverbs 19:8-9
Thursday—July 15 • Seeking Counsel Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22
When discipling a young man, be open and available as you lead him in wise decisionmaking. Often a young man simply needs a good listener to help him crystallize his thoughts. If you express openness and trustworthiness, he will be more apt to come to you for counsel. Since you won’t always be the one he comes to, teach him the value of choosing wise counsel; direct him to choose friends who are trustworthy, people who have a track record of making wise choices, and youth leaders at church. But the most beneficial thing you can teach him is to seek counsel from above. Show him how to pray—how to communicate with and listen to God. Model this discipline and gift for him. Prayer is the currency of our personal relationship with Christ; encourage him to spend it liberally!
Finally, teach him about the Holy Spirit, who not only offers counsel but conviction. A guilty conscience, troubled with conviction of the Spirit, provides clear evidence that we are not in God’s will. Don’t just lead him to wisdom; lead him to the source of wisdom and the power to make good decisions. TYMIM Chapter 12 Consider a young man that God has brought into your life; what is a tangible way that you can model a strong prayer life to him? That you can model the power and purpose of the Holy Spirit? Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 19:1-21:30, Romans 2:25-3:8, Psalm 11:1-7, Proverbs 19:10-12
The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out. Proverbs 18:15 Nothing clarifies our thinking quite like a pencil and paper. Sometimes we don’t even know what problem we’re trying to solve. Francis Bacon said, “Writing maketh an exact man.” Encouraging a young man to write his way through a decision can be a practical process to accurately identify his problem and discern the will of God. As you teach him this process of decision-making, remind him that the objective is not to get our own way, but rather to do things God’s way. Caution him against manipulating the process. In the following exercise, each step builds on itself; at some point, the answer may become obvious. If the right answer doesn’t make itself clear, he should keep moving through the steps. First, he should write down the question as concisely and clearly as possible. This will clarify his thinking right from the start. Example: Should I continue to date Jessica? The next step is to write out a purpose statement that defines why he is considering that decision. “Why” is he trying to decide “what” he is trying to decide? Why is he unhappy or confused? Example: I am
trying to decide whether to continue dating Jessica because I believe she wants to have sex and I know we shouldn’t. I like spending time with her. Then he should submit his purpose statement to a series of questions: What are you trying to accomplish and why?Example: To not be lonely. I like having a girlfriend. Other questions should follow: What are your expectations and why? How does this decision fit in with your calling? What does the Bible say about my decision? What counsel have I already received? Usually, by the end of this series, one option will prove more desirable and wise. As Professor Louis Agazziz said, “A pencil is one of the best of eyes.” And at all times along this process, remind him to still be in prayer. TYMIM Chapter 12 Do you ever write as part of your decisionmaking process? Identify a major decision you’re considering. Submit it to the series of questions. Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 22:1-27:34, Romans 3:9-5:5, Psalm 12:1-14:7, Proverbs 19:13-17
For Your Small Group
❏❏ For July 12-18—On a large piece of paper or white board make a list of the most difficult decisions the members of your group have had to make in their lives. •• How did you go about making those decisions? What things did you consider? •• How could your father or another man in your life have helped you with those decisions? •• Is there a young man in your life that could use some help in making some important decision? Would you be willing to walk or pray him through that process?
Do you know some young men facing the difficult decisions of life? Give them Pat’s book, The Young Men in the Mirror, page 30.
Monday—July 19 • Defining Integrity
The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity. Proverbs 11:3 One of the more important things you can teach a young man is the value of integrity. Former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson said, “If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.” What does it mean exactly to be a man of integrity? Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary states: Integrity noun 1: F irm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values: INCORRUPTIBILITY 2: A n unimpaired condition: SOUNDNESS 3: Th e quality or state of being complete or undivided: COMPLETENESS Integrity means being undivided and unwavering. Integrity means not folding under pressure; pressure only makes a man
of integrity more determined to do the right thing. He is not double-minded and cannot be corrupted. Teach young men that the Christian man of integrity takes responsibility for his inward character and outward conduct, while trusting Christ to empower him through the Holy Spirit. Remind them that it doesn’t mean being flawless, but it does mean being steady and determined in Christ. TYMIM Chapter 13 Define integrity in your own words. As a teenager or young adult, who was a man of integrity that you looked up to? How did he display those qualities? Share your answers with a few other men. Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 28:1-29:30, Romans 5:6-21, Psalm 15:1-5, Proverbs 19:18-19
Tuesday—July 20 • Integrity in the Small Things Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. Luke 16:10
The clerk at Starbucks rang up $1.50 for my $3.50 drink. When I told him he had made a mistake, he said, “It’s okay. Don’t worry about it.” We all face situations like this on a regular basis—situations that call for us to act with integrity, even when the consequence is minor or nonexistent. The truth is these seemingly inconsequential matters can make small dents in our integrity. Over time, the dents become craters, and eventually, our character is fractured. A young man is often faced with these kinds of choices. A classmate offers to let him cheat off a routine homework assignment that the teacher won’t check thoroughly; his parents ask him how much change was left over from the pizza they had him pick up. These things may all seem harmless enough, but your job as an older
man of integrity is to teach him the value of making the right choice even if no one is watching or if everyone else is doing the opposite. Integrity is about more than good behavior—it is a way of expressing our faith in, and love for, Jesus Christ. If you want God to trust him with much, teach him to strive to be faithful with very little. TYMIM Chapter 13 Why is it easier to sin when the direct consequence isn’t apparent? How have you seen compromise in the little things lead to greater compromise in your own life, either in the past or currently? Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 1:1-3:17, Romans 6:1-23, Psalm 16:1-11, Proverbs 19:20-21
Wednesday—July 21 • The Cost of Integrity I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity. I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live. Job 27:5–6
In my daughter’s college dorm, the girls figured out they could put two quarters inside a pair of nylon stockings, insert the quarters in the slots of the washing machines, push the lever, start the machine, and then pull the lever out and retrieve their quarters. One night my daughter, frustrated because of her lack of money, said, “Maybe I should start doing that, too.” My wife responded, “You will have many choices like this in life, and it will always cost you more to be honest.” Every choice comes with an opportunity cost; it will always cost you something to be a man of integrity. It may be a higher-paying position at work, a relationship with the unhappily married woman across the street, or a night out drinking with the guys. For a
younger man, the equivalent may be a good grade on his final exam, his new girlfriend, or the party that everyone else will be attending. At that age, any one of those can feel like the end of the world as he knows it. Be sensitive to the costs of integrity he will experience, but reaffirm the benefits! Help him decide—in advance—that he would rather have God’s blessing than the fleeting pleasures that could come from compromising his integrity. TYMIM Chapter 13 What cost have you experienced as a result of making the right choice? What blessing resulted, either then or down the road? Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 4:1-6:11, Romans 7:1-13, Psalm 17:1-15, Proverbs 19:22-23
Thursday—July 22 • You as an Example In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16
Sometimes when a baker makes cookies, he first puts all the spices and sugar together in a bowl: sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. As they stir, the cookie dough picks up the different ingredients; each time the sticky dough passes over the mixture, the sweeter it becomes. How do we get integrity? We pick it up, over time, by watching people we respect. We see them handle dicey situations, face trials, and pursue good. As we roll through life and interact with others, we recognize qualities such as courage, perseverance or compassion. We begin to identify different characteristics—different ingredients or seasonings—to which we aspire. When a younger man comes into contact
with you, be someone that coats him with the ingredients of integrity. Leave him with a vision for what he aspires to be. As you see a young man identify one of these qualities (either in you or someone else), first tell him to ask God to work it into his character through faith and the Holy Spirit. At the same time, encourage him to pursue the value diligently and cultivate it through his choices. TYMIM Chapter 13 How did you “learn” integrity? How can you “teach” integrity through your daily actions? Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 6:12-8:10, Romans 7:14-8:8, Psalm 18:1-15, Proverbs 19:24-25
q Friday, Saturday, Sunday—July 23, 24, 25 • Christ as the Example Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Mark 12:13–14 The Bible gives a clear, concise description of integrity in the description of Jesus from the verse above. First, He was not swayed by men. Part of living with integrity is standing your ground firmly. Each time that a young man goes against his peers, the status quo, or his own temptations—in order to do what he knows to be right—he builds integrity. Guide him as he not only faces these decisions but as he forms these foundational values. Second, He didn’t show partiality to people based on their position. In high school especially, a strong pressure exists to rate or order others. Suddenly everyone finds themselves in a category, while subtly supporting the system of hierarchy themselves with how they view and treat others. Point a young man back to Christ’s example; He didn’t favor people for being attractive, athletic, wealthy or popular. Teach a young man that his value is not based on the invisible ranking system, but rather on whom God says he is. The leaders said that Jesus taught the way of God to those around Him. Empower a young man to
follow Jesus’ example, looking for opportunities to share God’s way. Maybe the opportunity is in the locker room when the team huddles up to pray, maybe it’s a classmate who’s facing a health crisis, maybe it’s the friend who’s skipping band practice and using drugs. Help him to recognize and focus on the need, and not on his fears or potential inadequacies. Point out how God often uses the least likely candidate. The final attribute they mentioned about Jesus was that He lived according to the truth. Remember this: a young man can’t live according to the truth if he doesn’t know the truth. Invest in him with your time and wisdom and commit to discipling him. But remind him that he won’t be perfect—that integrity is a progressive response to the good news that Jesus loves and forgives us, not something we first must do to “merit” His love and forgiveness. Cover everything you share with the gospel of His grace. TYMIM Chapter 13 Which of the above attributes of Jesus do you find the most challenging to model? Which comes more naturally to you? Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 8:11-16:14, Romans 8:9-9:14, Psalm 18:16-19:14, Proverbs 19:2620:1
For Your Small Group
❏❏ For July 19-25—Share the four attributes of Jesus found in the weekend devotional on this page. •• Are those attributes something that you saw in the men in your life as you were growing up? •• Why is integrity such an important characteristic to pass on to others? •• Are the young men in your life seeing integrity in you? In what ways?
q Monday—July 26 • Reading and Following the Owner’s Manual Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. Psalm 119:18 Several years ago, my wife and I purchased a DVD player. It came with an instruction manual, which I never read. Now, I have trouble getting the lid off a peanut butter jar, and my wife is even less mechanical than I. Besides that, we had several remote controls, some belonging to appliances that had long since left our home. But we did have three main clickers for the TV and its accompanying equipment. So, soon after we bought the player, I went away for the weekend, and she wanted to watch a DVD. I tried talking her through the process via telephone. “Patsy,” I said, “you need to get the gray remote…” But, of course, two of the remotes were gray, and
she got the wrong one, and soon we both were frustrated. We never did get her DVD going, and I realized that sometimes guessing just isn’t good enough. Sometimes we need to read the owner’s manual and see how things are supposed to be done. Frankly, that’s what scriptures like the Ten Commandments are all about—they outline guidelines to protect our lives. MIMBS 2 Describe something you’ve learned from the Ten Commandments that protected you and enabled you to live a fruitful life. Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 17:1-18:34, Romans 9:15-10:13, Psalm 20:1-9, Proverbs 20:2-3
Tuesday—July 27 • Types of Commandments Moses summoned all Israel and said: Hear, O Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them. Deuteronomy 5:1
Biblical scholars tell us the Old Testament includes three kinds of laws: •• Judicial laws, which give instructions in situations that, in today’s culture, could lead to lawsuits, etc. For instance, “Your ox gored my ox, and here’s what you need to do about it.” Usually, these laws do not apply in our culture. •• Ceremonial laws, which give instruction for atoning for sin. For instance, “Take some hyssop and dip it in blood and sprinkle it.” Again, these laws applied to specific times and situations. •• Moral law, which applies to all people, at all times, in all places, in all ways. These laws are intuitive—they are not limited to Judeo-Christian systems,
because all people inherently recognize their value. The Ten Commandments fall into that final category. They are given and repeated in Scripture, as if to underscore their importance. They are not outdated rules from a bygone era, but guidelines for living a life of integrity that honors God today. MIMBS 2 Have you ever been confused by the Old Testament laws? Did you realize that there were three categories? What can we learn from judicial and ceremonial laws about God’s character, even though we may not apply those specific laws today? Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 19:1-20:37, Romans 10:14-11:12, Psalm 21:1-13, Proverbs 20:4-6
Wednesday—July 28 • The Grass Isn’t Really Greener The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly. Proverbs 5:22–23
Some people—believers and unbelievers alike—see God as a “control freak,” establishing rules to regulate our lives. They tend to see the Ten Commandments as a huge electrified barbed wire fence—a prison designed to restrain and control our behavior. If they’re truly honest, they probably believe God’s commandments separate them from the things that would really make them happy. They believe the old adage, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” This same perspective is expressed by a child who says, “Daddy is mean to me. He won’t let me hit my sister!” Generally speaking, two kinds of people entertain this viewpoint: •• People who link happiness with being able to do whatever they want, whenever they want.
•• People who grew up in homes with legalistic, controlling parents, so they transpose their feelings into relationship with God. If you stiffen a bit when you hear the Ten Commandments, you might want to examine your perspective. The Ten Commandments actually reflect God’s grace, protecting us from ourselves so He can provide what we really want. MIMBS 2 Discuss with some brother your gut-level emotional reactions to the Ten Commandments. If your reaction is negative, is that because you don’t “like” or agree with the commandments themselves, or because you mistrust their intention? Why? Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 21:1-23:21, Romans 11:13-36, Psalm 22:1-18, Proverbs 20:7
Thursday—July 29 • A Man’s Perspective When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 1 Corinthians 13:12
If you stiffen or grimace when you hear the Ten Commandments, you may be clinging to a childish perspective. In writing to the Corinthian believers, the apostle Paul called believers to put away that view and see things like an adult. This means coming to understand that, while God’s commandments do create a “fence,” they’re designed to protect our freedom—not limit it. If you have children, you set up rules and boundaries to protect them from things they don’t understand. Telling a toddler to never touch the stove isn’t meant to restrict him from eating! It’s meant to keep him from burning himself. A three-yearold simply doesn’t know how to use a stove safely, so we say “no” to protect him. When we see God as a loving Father, we
understand that everything on the other side of the fence is harmful rather than beneficial. There may be quicksand, or a cliff, or a ferocious lion. You’re protected from those things if you stay inside the barrier. But if you ignore His commands and do the things He declared “off limits,” you’ve moved outside the barbed wire of His protection. MIMBS 2 How do the Ten Commandments protect us from things that might be harmful? Have you seen someone not follow a commandment that resulted in them getting hurt? Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 24:1-25:28, Romans 12:1-21, Psalm 22:19-31, Proverbs 20:8-10
Friday, Saturday, Sunday—July 30, 31, August 1 Exceeding What the Engine Will Tolerate Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess. Deuteronomy 5:33
Growing up in God requires us to embrace His perspective, seeing His commandments as our blessing and our protection. Today’s featured verse reveals God’s heart. Our submission to His protective orders brings the results that we all crave. God gave the Ten Commandments as a grace, so that when people finally persevere in obedience, they experience the full riches of abundant life. You may know that I love to race cars. I remember one January when my car got really beaten up in a race. Several parts had to be rebuilt. When you first take your car out after you’ve made a lot of repairs, you usually find some other issues that didn’t show up in the shop. The first time I took it out after that massive restoration job, I was watching everything carefully. Sure enough, three times in my first session, the car popped out of gear after I tried to shift up to fourth gear. Here’s why that’s a problem—I have a racing flywheel, which allows the revs to spin up very quickly. So this over-revved the engine. One time it went to 10,200 revs. At first it seemed like everything was going well. I won the pole, and I won the qualifying race. But then we went into the main feature, which was a three-hour
endurance race. By that time, the valves were slightly bent from the over-revving, and we were losing compression on two cylinders. The engine became sicker and sicker, and we ended up finishing third. Why? Because I had exceeded the boundary of what the engine would tolerate. In a similar way, the Ten Commandments set our boundaries, and when we go beyond them, we over-rev ourselves. We will break down. God’s commandments keep us running smoothly so we can experience His promised abundant life. MIMBS 2 Write a brief prayer to thank God for the gracious gift of His protective commandments. Is there an area of your life where you need a course correction to protect from “overrevving”? Add a line to the prayer asking God to work in your heart. Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 26:1-31:21, Romans 13:1-15:22, Psalm 23:1-25:15, Proverbs 20:11-15
For Your Small Group
❏❏ For July 26-August 1—Have your group read the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) from an easy-to-understand version of the Bible (The Message, New Living Translation or other). •• Did you hear or learn the Ten Commandments as a child? What was your impression of them as a child? How has your perception of them changed as an adult? •• What would you say to someone who thought the Ten Commandments were “out of date”? •• What can you learn about God’s character from the Ten Commandments?
Monday—August 2 • Leaving a Legacy Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16
On December 13, 1862, a bloody battle erupted at Fredericksburg, VA. All day, Union soldiers charged up a slope into Confederate fire. As night fell, both sides could hear the moans of wounded soldiers. The next morning, 19-year-old South Carolinian Richard Rolland couldn’t ignore the cries any longer. He sought permission to attend to wounded Union soldiers. His commander skeptically agreed. He gathered canteens and scaled the wall. Someone shot at him, but Rolland was undeterred. He went to wounded soldiers, cradling heads and offering water. All firing stopped. A cheer started from the Union line, then the Confederate line. Astonished soldiers
watched for an hour-and-a-half while the young Confederate took water to every injured soldier. We won’t all get the chance to make a difference in as memorable way as Richard Rolland. We can, however, take advantage of the opportunities God puts in front of us to live out our faith in unexpected ways. MIMBS 3 Name a man that you believe has done or is doing something important with his life. What do you believe is his motivation? Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 32:1-33:13, Romans 15:23-16:9, Psalm 25:16-22, Proverbs 20:16-18
Tuesday—August 3 • A Man’s Desire Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12
Every man has a need to be significant. It gets him out of bed in the morning and enables him to invest himself in something, without regard to personal cost. Every man wants to know that something about his life matters. Without a sense of purpose, many of us wander in the state described in the verse above—our hearts sick with longing. I have been in that place myself. I sensed that God wanted me to do something, but I didn’t yet know what it was. I remember praying through my tears, saying, “God, please either satisfy this desire to serve You in some way, or take away the desire. I just can’t continue living like this.”
If any man tells you he doesn’t have that longing, I’m convinced he’s lying. We all have the same desire, and some of us will pursue it by following man’s formula, while others will try God’s. Only God’s way really fulfills the longing and leads to a life of purpose. MIMBS 3 Have you discovered your God-given destiny? How did you discover your purpose? If you are still seeking to know your purpose, share with a few other men where you are on your journey. Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 33:14-34:33, Romans 16:10-27, Psalm 26:1-12, Proverbs 20:19
Man in the Mirror Featured Resources
Reach Younger Men The Young Man in the Mirror The Young Man in the Mirror is a door for young men in high school, a rite of passage, that will teach what it means to be a man, how to get along with their family members, how to treat young women, how to handle sexual temptation, and how to find God’s will for their lives. The Young Man in the Mirror gives young men the opportunity to do it right the first time. $9
Also available: Get this great two-pack of The Man in the Mirror (hardcover) and The Young Man in the Mirror (softcover) for the special price of only $25!
On the website, click on BOOKSTORE, then BOOKS and scroll down to Young Man in the Mirror. Click on the book cover for links to video interviews with students who helped write the book. You can watch a video that will help you learn more about the book, and also watch commentary from the author, Patrick Morley, about The Young Man in the Mirror.
Spiritual Growth... A Man’s Guide to the Spiritual Disciplines Do you long to be close to God? To walk in His ways? To capture His joy and excitement for your life? Someone once said, “Life is in the details.” This certainly holds true when in comes to our spiritual walks.
A Man’s Guide to the Spiritual Disciplines Book and DVD Combo With each combo you’ll receive a copy of the book; a free DVD with 2-3 minute segments from Pat Morley’s teaching that can be used to kick off a weekly small group meeting; free accountability cards to promote vulnerability and open discussion; and a free sample issue of Equipping the Man in the Mirror (one for each book ordered). Also check out our website for discounts on 5, 10, 15 , 20, 36 books! $55 per set
All I can say is that new and old Christians alike owe it to themselves to read this material. Rather than just tell you what habits you should be forming (or pointing out what you’re doing wrong), it gives practical advice for forming those habits in your daily life. —Matthew, Burton, MI
Drive Time for the Spiritual Disciplines Drive Time for Dads This 18 CD collection is perfect for the man who spends a lot of time in the car. Includes: “Family and the Man in the Mirror” (3 CDs), “Success and the Man in the Mirror” (3 CDs) and “12 Tasks of an Effective Father” (12 CDs). These 3 great series by Pat Morley will be a wonderful source of encouragement to any dad. These CDs also work in a computer and come with transcripts of each message and discussion questions—perfect for small groups.
For more information, call (800) 929-2536, or go to www.maninthemirror.org.
1-800-929-2536 • bookstore.maninthemirror.org
Do you have ears and a car stereo? Do you lead a small group? This Drive Time CD Series can meet your needs. It addresses many of the issues and details of a Christian’s walk with God such as prayer, worship, the Sabbath, fellowship, counsel, fasting, stewardship, service, spiritual warfare, and evangelism. Series includes Prayer and the Man in the Mirror (3 CDs), God and the Man in the Mirror (3 CDs), and Spiritual Disciplines (12 CDs). This series includes 18 Audio/Video CDs plus a CD visor case for your car. All CDs include: 30 minute message from Pat Morley’s Bible Study; group discussion questions; and message transcript.
18 Audio/Video CD Series—$59
1-800-929-2536 • bookstore.maninthemirror.org
Books by the Box
Titles Available in Boxes of 12 and 48
Special Books for Men... New for 2010! R.C. Sproul probes into the depths and riches of The Holiness of God with great reverence, respect, and honor. His theology is very sound and his illustrations are excellent. Not only does Sproul portray the true character of God but he also describes what that means to us as Christians. 12 for $28 or 48 for $80 New for 2010! In He Chose the Nails, Max Lucado invites us to understand the symbols surrounding Christ’s crucifixion and celebrate the significance of the promises they offer. From the sign in different languages tacked to the cross (“I will speak to you in your language”) to the burial clothing (“I can turn your tragedy into triumph”), he speaks of each symbol as a “gift of grace” that reveals God’s love for mankind. 12 for $23 or 48 for $78 Back by popular demand! Helping men rediscover their masculine heart, Wild at Heart is a guide to understanding Christian manhood. John Eldredge gives women a look inside the heart of a man and gives men permission to be what God designed them to be—-passionate, alive, and free. 12 for $26 or 48 for $82 Inspire the men (and women!) of your church to step out in faith and take advantage of the opportunities God presents. Pastor and author Mark Batterson says your greatest regret at the end of your life will be the lions you didn’t chase: risks not taken, opportunities not seized, and dreams not pursued. Stop running away from what scares you most and start chasing the God-ordained opportunities that cross your path. Unleash the lion chaser within! 12 for $23 or 48 for $78
Special Books for Women... New for 2010! Get Off Your Knees and Pray is a woman’s guide to real prayer— a perfect blend of practical advice, personal stories, and biblical truth to help you achieve greater intimacy with God through prayer. Prayer is not just a few sentences to God while on our knees. It is living out our ongoing, every moment commitment to God. 12 for $23 or 48 for $78 New for 2010! They were ordinary, common, and in some cases shockingly lowcaste, yet each was made extraordinary by her life-changing encounter with God. Twelve Extraordinary Women is a poignant and personal look into the lives of some of the Bible’s most faithful women. Their struggles and temptations are the same trials faced by believers today. 12 for $23 or 48 for $78
1-800-929-2536 • booksbythebox.maninthemirror.org
Wednesday—August 4 • Pursuing “Greatness” An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Luke 9:46
Most of us start with noble motives. We want our lives to matter. Probably that’s what inspired the disciples to follow Jesus. He promised to make them more than “fishers of fish”—He would make them “fishers of men.” His invitation changed their lives. Yet even those 12 men were tempted by the lure of worldly status. That kind of error happens when we mistakenly believe our “importance” is linked to how people view us. Men with this worldview need to make this much money, live in this kind of house, drive this kind of car. A man who accepts that viewpoint must eventually use people and make them serve him. And once he’s achieved an acceptable
level of prestige, he finds it’s not enough … he needs more. If you’re pursuing that kind of “greatness,” I warn you—that lifestyle will eventually cost you everything. Jesus has a much better plan, and it begins with asking others, “How can I help you?” Not, “How can you help me?” MIMBS 3 Define what you believe makes a man “great,” and then explain whether you believe your definition more closely matches God’s or man’s viewpoint. How much does your life line up with your stated belief? Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 35:1-36:23, 1 Corinthians 1:1-17, Psalm 27:1-6, Proverbs 20:20-21
Thursday—August 5 • Jesus’ Perspective Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest.” Luke 9:47–48
Jesus repeatedly admonished His disciples to give up the world’s definition of “greatness”: •• “The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:11–12). •• “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). •• “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them… But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves” (Luke 22:25–26).
That is the essence of success Jesus’ way: If you really want to be great, then serve. And He didn’t just say it—He did it. Scripture tells us that, hours before one of His disciples would betray Him, Jesus’ washed the feet of His 12 closest followers. In that context, He told them, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15). True greatness only comes through service. MIMBS 3 Look up Philippians 2:6–11 with some brothers. Discuss how it reflects Jesus’ perspective on greatness. Daily Reading: Ezra 1:1-2:70, 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5, Psalm 27:7-14, Proverbs 20:22-23
Friday, Saturday, Sunday—August 6, 7, 8 The Fellowship of the Red Bandanna
q Monday—August 9 • The High Cost of Unresolved Conflict An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel. Proverbs 18:19
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:39 September 11, 2001. Almost every American can tell you where they were and what they were doing when they heard that planes had flown into the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. Many heroes responded that day. For some, it was part of their job. Others simply responded because they were there. As reports began to emerge from World Trade Center survivors, several mentioned a mysterious young man who wore a red bandanna across his face. For 76 minutes he went from one group of survivors to another, leading them to safety. He carried one badly injured woman down 15 flights of stairs to get her out. He sent her down with a group that could help her, and then he went back in to rescue another group. Finally he went back up and wasn’t seen again. On March 19, 2002, that young man’s remains were found intact, in a makeshift command center set up by the fire department in the south tower lobby. He was identified as Welles Crowther, a graduate of Boston College, where he played on the lacrosse team and was known for wearing a
red bandanna. When he graduated, he went to work for a financial firm on the 104th floor of the South Tower. He told his parents he didn’t know how much longer he could keep working there, because his real dream was to be a public servant and a fire fighter. On September 11, 2001, when he was 23 years old, Welles Crowther realized his dream. His whole life, God had prepared Welles for this moment. And when the time came, he was ready. It may not be as dramatic as Welles Crowther (or Richard Rolland from Monday’s devotional), but if you are following Him, you may one day find yourself in a position to make a self-sacrificial decision. Will you be ready if God gives you a “moment” like this? MIMBS 3 If you want to do something significant with your life, then I invite you to join the Fellowship of the Red Bandanna (www.redbandanna.org). Have you known anyone who made a sacrifice for others? What would you have done in that person’s situation? Daily Reading: Ezra 3:1-8:20, 1 Corinthians 2:64:21, Psalm 28:1-30:12, Proverbs 20:24-30
For Your Small Group
❏❏ For August 2-8—Read aloud the full story of Welles Crowther from the website, www.redbandanna.org. •• What makes Welles’ story so unusual? What kind of heart did Welles Crowther have? •• Share other stories around the group of heroic or self-sacrificial acts. •• What prepares a man to act heroically when circumstances like these arise?
Hoping to leave a great spiritual legacy for your kids? Drive Time for Dads can help you with that goal. Page 30
Several years ago during a NASCAR race, Tony Stewart nudged Jeff Gordon’s back bumper. Gordon crashed into the wall and was out of the race. In an interview a few minutes later, Gordon said something like, “The next time Tony’s holding me up, it’ll only take about a half a lap for him to be out of my way.” I remember thinking, Now that’s escalating a quarrel. Quarrels and disputes can be quite expensive. Wrecked cars are nothing compared to wrecked relationships. We all offend brothers on occasion—sometimes on purpose!
But the practical advice of the Bible leads us to resolve these conflicts. Jesus even put it in the “top two” when He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself ” (Matthew 19:19). When you’re facing conflict, remember that being a peacemaker requires strength and courage, but it also offers a great reward. MIMBS 4 From your own experience, describe a quarrel that led to division and separation. How could the participants have avoided the costly result? Daily Reading: Ezra 8:21-9:15, 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, Psalm 31:1-8, Proverbs 21:1-2
Tuesday—August 10 • No Divisions I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 1 Corinthians 1:10
The apostle Paul addressed a division that occurred in the Corinthian church. Factions were being created in the congregation. Paul used a positive approach with the Corinthians, urging them rather than commanding them. But his language is very strong. If things were not resolved, he saw a split coming. Paul had invested about 18 months with this congregation. He spoke as a spiritual older brother when he wrote, “You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?” (1 Corinthians 3:3). Paul basically says, “I’m a little surprised that after all you’ve
received, you still are behaving like cultural Christians rather than real Christians.” Paul clearly cared for this group of believers, and he also cared about how they represented Jesus to others. Love often requires gracious confrontation, so both parties can avoid the high cost of division and separation. MIMBS 4 Do you have a spiritual “older brother” who can speak forcefully and lovingly into your life? If so, how has he helped you through difficult situations? If not, how could you find someone to fill that role? Daily Reading: Ezra 10:1-44, 1 Corinthians 6:120, Psalm 31:9-18, Proverbs 21:3
Wednesday—August 11 • Perfect Theology vs. Perfect Love A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34–35
Jesus said His followers would be noticed because of their love for one another. Jesus did not say, “All men will know you are my disciples when you finally establish a perfect theology.” Having correct doctrine is extremely valuable. But when all is said and done, theology is the result of someone trying to see God clearly while looking through warped glass. That’s the imperfect result of a finite man trying to comprehend an infinite God. You can try to perfect your theology, but at the end of the day you have to surrender to a little mystery. Jesus said the greatest commandment is that we should love God, and the second
is that we should love our neighbors. So perhaps today, we need to be less concerned about asking who is right and who is wrong on the finer points of theology. And instead, we need to ask ourselves, “How can I love other Christians in a way that others will know I am a disciple of Jesus Christ?” MIMBS 4 Have you felt pressure to have a “perfect theology”? Have you ever found yourself putting this above loving a brother in Christ? Daily Reading: Nehemiah 1:1-3:14, 1 Corinthians 7:1-24, Psalm 31:19-24, Proverbs 21:4
Thursday—August 12 • Restoring a Brother Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1–2
Every man eventually will face at least one major disagreement with a Christian brother. Several years ago I talked to a man who was on the verge of walking away from one of his friends, because he was embarrassed by the man’s behavior. His friend was acting very worldly, doing things like ragging on sales clerks and blowing up at waitresses. We talked about the situation, and we dealt with this question: What would brotherly love do? We came to the conclusion that
he shouldn’t terminate the relationship, but neither should he leave things at status quo. He would confront the friend, like Paul confronted the Corinthians when he noted, “My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you” (1 Corinthians 1:11). Paul jumped into the middle of the issue that threatened their unity. Very few people really enjoy conflict. But at some point, true love will prayerfully and gently initiate some difficult conversations. MIMBS 4 Have you ever been confronted “prayerfully and gently”? What was the result? Explain how it might have ended differently if you had been confronted in anger. Daily Reading: Nehemiah 3:15-5:13, 1 Corinthians 7:25-40, Psalm 32:1-11, Proverbs 21:5-7
Friday, Saturday, Sunday—August 13, 14, 15 Love Brings Healing and Protects Relationships Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18
About five years ago, my wife Patsy broke her ankle. It never healed correctly, so eventually she had outpatient surgery to put in some screws and a plate. I don’t know what the doctors used for her anesthesia, but when we left, she was pretty loopy. On the way home, she asked me if I had called our daughter. I told her yes, I had. Ten minutes later she asked the same question. And ten minutes later she asked again. I was thinking, Wow! I didn’t know foot surgery could affect the brain! That’s how much she was thrown off balance by the medication. Patsy was supposed to keep her foot elevated for several days, and then she was scheduled for a followup appointment. So that first evening, I was doing my best to care for her, but frankly, she just didn’t want to accept the limitations required by her doctor. We ended up in one little quarrel, then another little quarrel, and then another. I do not enjoy conflict at all,
but finally I initiated a hard conversation. I reached way into our past and said, “Patsy, do you remember that a few years ago you and I made a covenant that if one of us ever got sick, we would do our utmost not to be a difficult person to the caregiver?” Instead of getting mad and letting the situation escalate, I went right at it. I wasn’t angry or hostile or reckless. I tried to be gentle and to consider what was best for Patsy. But I didn’t ignore the situation either. Positive confrontation isn’t easy or fun. But it is an expression of love. It brings healing and it protects relationships, because it defuses quarrels and heals divisions. MIMBS 4 How might these lessons apply to a situation you are currently facing in your workplace? How about in your home? Or in your church? Daily Reading: Nehemiah 5:1410:39, 1 Corinthians 8:1-10:13, Psalm 33:1-34:10, Proverbs 21:8-13
For Your Small Group
❏❏ For August 9-15—Have each person write their name in the middle of a sheet of paper, then write the names of every person they have a relationship with, drawing a line from their name to each person listed. •• Looking at your paper, what do you notice? Do you have more or less relationships than you thought? •• Draw lines between people who have relationships with each other (e.g., your wife to your child). How interconnected are your relationships? •• If you have an unresolved conflict with one person, how does that affect other people on your paper? How would you counsel someone who is in a conflict with someone based on your own network of relationships?
Monday—August 16 • Man’s Effort or God’s Mercy?
q Wednesday—August 18 • Changing from the Inside to the Outside
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Galatians 5:16 Determination is one of my greatest strengths, and also one of my greatest weaknesses. When I set my mind to go after something, I go after it. I’m a self-reliant self-starter. So when I heard that Christ was “the way,” I began studying and imitating His life. It was hard work, but I was steadfast in my effort. If Jesus did it, I was going to do it. Meanwhile I married Patsy. I had been committed to a set of values that made me a moralist, but not a Christian. Patsy was committed and surrendered to the person of Jesus Christ. I worked hard to conceal my lack of spiritual progress, yet I knew in
my heart that she was taking great strides out of the overflow of this relationship with Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Scripture tells us that spiritual growth will never be achieved through man’s effort. It can only happen through God’s mercy. MIMBS 5 How can you discern if you are truly living by the power of the Holy Spirit, or if you are simply using your own strength to pursue a set of values? Daily Reading: Nehemiah 11:1-12:26, 1 Corinthians 10:14-33, Psalm 34:11-22, Proverbs 21:14-16
Tuesday—August 17 • A Different Kind of Idol? For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. Galatians 5:17
Galatians 5 lists the obvious acts promoted by the sinful nature: •• sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery •• idolatry and witchcraft •• hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy •• drunkenness, orgies etc. Most of us will agree that all those things should go on our list of “don’ts.” We list the places we shouldn’t go, things we shouldn’t do. We struggle to control our anger and improve our relationships. We may even surrender our known idols—money, houses, shiny cars, splendid vacations. But if we make an idol out of our own goodness, or out of looking holy before other people, then we are continuing to live in submission to the sinful nature rather than surrendering to God’s power.
None of us can depend on our own righteousness. We can only depend on Jesus’ righteousness, credited to our account. And we can trust Him to finish the work, molding us to be more and more like Jesus. MIMBS 5 In what ways have you been trusting in your own righteousness? Pray that you would surrender this self-righteousness and instead rely on Christ’s. Daily Reading: Nehemiah 12:27-13:31, 1 Corinthians 11:116, Psalm 35:1-16, Proverbs 21:17-18
I [God] will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Ezekiel 36:26–27 When my in-laws downsized, they asked if Patsy and I would like four Martha Washington Chippendale chairs that had graced the office of my wife’s grandfather when he was one of America’s top executives. I leaped at the opportunity to preserve that heritage. The chairs needed to be re-upholstered, so we chose a rich leather covering. When we finally finished the project, they looked beautiful. I placed them in my office, and about two or three days later, I noticed a musty smell. I ignored it, but it intensified. So I called the upholsterer and discovered he had put these incredible coverings right over the old padding. He put a new outward appearance on the chair, but he neglected
to change what was inside. My friend says, “You can’t behave your way out of something you believed your way into.” In other words, acting righteous (the outside appearance) will start to “smell funny” if you’re just covering the same old beliefs and self-reliance. To surrender to Jesus means letting Him change you from the inside out. MIMBS 5 Re-read the Scripture passage at the beginning of this devotional. How does that explain the correlation between God’s work within us and the changes that occur in our attitudes and actions? Daily Reading: Esther 1:1-3:15, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, Psalm 35:17-28, Proverbs 21:19-20
Thursday—August 19 • Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. … Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:22, 25
Many years ago, a guy asked me to pray that he would have more patience. I said, “Are you crazy? You don’t have to ask God to drill patience into you, when He already offers it as a fruit of the Holy Spirit.” That’s true of every characteristic listed above. All believers face a struggle between the old nature and the new. Even the apostle Paul wrote, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15). He noted that only Christ can rescue us from that state (Romans 7:24–25). As we choose daily to walk in the Holy Spirit’s empowerment, we will find ourselves growing in the fruit of the Spirit,
and moving farther away from our old desires. Eventually we’ll look back and realize we aren’t the same men we used to be. By God’s grace, we can escape from the need to conform to the outward appearance of “holiness,” and we can convert all of that focus on our desire to live by the Spirit. MIMBS 5 Write a prayer asking God to help you escape from the need to conform to an outward standard of behavior, and focus your attention on living by the Spirit. Daily Reading: Esther 4:1-7:10, 1 Corinthians 12:1-26, Psalm 36:1-12, Proverbs 21:21-22
Friday, Saturday, Sunday—August 20, 21, 22 A Coach’s Impact Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders. 1 Thessalonians 4:11–12
Sports movies such as Rudy, Hoosiers, and Remember the Titans give us a glimpse into the relationship between a coach and his team. We have all seen a coach screaming at one of his players or the victory splash of Gatorade over a coach’s head. Coaches get the credit for winning the Superbowl or the blame for a losing season. Our local high school has a successful, influential baseball coach. Coach “B” led the varsity baseball team to the state championship – a tremendous victory! But the coach’s most impactful victories took place off the field. Coach “B” cares about students’ family situations, grades, selfesteem and success. For example, he’d pick up a kid at 7 a.m. to make sure he’s on time for first period and he’s invited children with special needs to help manage the team. If he believed one of his players was starting down the wrong path, he didn’t hesitate to intervene. And his players never doubted that the coach deeply loved his wife and family.
When Coach “B” faced serious health issues, letters, emails, cards and gifts of poured in. Alumni expressed their appreciation for the care, concern, or the “swift kick” they had received from him over the years. Many expressed that he was their only real, male role model. Others said they hoped they would someday make an impact on others like the one Coach had made on them. Coach’s life—and the countless lives he has affected—speaks not only of his passion, but of his priorities; although he loves winning baseball games, he loves something else more: impacting and changing lives for the better. MIMBS 5 Ask yourself, “What would others say about the way I’ve impacted their lives?” Would you be satisfied with the answers they’d give? What passions and priorities have you demonstrated? Daily Reading: Esther 8:1-10:3, Job 1:1-7:21, 1 Corinthians 12:27-18:40, Psalm 37:1-40, Proverbs 21:23-27
For Your Small Group
❏❏ For August 16-22—From Wednesday’s devotional this week, how would you define “changing from the inside out”? •• What are some of the ways that we determine that kind of change? •• Have you experienced that kind of change? •• What is the difference between “changing on the inside” and “changing on the outside”? Based on the weekend’s devotional, how did Coach’s life reflect the condition of his heart?
Monday—August 23 • Viewing the World as Jesus Does The Lord knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile. Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord , the man you teach from your law. Psalm 94:11–12
I didn’t realize the cultural popularity of swearing till I started hanging out with race fans. In my circles, people avoid talking like that. So when I’m going to the track, I brace myself for it. Although they may use offensive language, I’ve met many at the racetrack who really are interested in matters of faith. One weekend I spent more than an hour with such a man. He had enjoyed considerable business success, serving as CEO in a couple of major corporations. He believed in God and in Jesus Christ. But in our conversation I discovered that, for more than 10 years, he had been trying to fit Jesus into his own worldview.
Jesus doesn’t fit into worldviews. He is a worldview. Every man who truly wants a life-altering faith must quit viewing Jesus as the world does, and start viewing the world as Jesus does. MIMBS 6 What are you doing to help you move from viewing Jesus as the world does, and start viewing the world as Jesus does? How could you help another man with this transition today? Daily Reading: Job 8:1-11:20, 1 Corinthians 15:1-28, Psalm 38:1-22, Proverbs 21:28-29
Tuesday—August 24 • Backstage with Jesus I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. Philippians 3:8
Several years ago my wife and I saw a Broadway musical. We felt almost like we knew the people on stage—like they were our friends. But of course, we had never really talked to them. If we had seen them on the street, we might not have even recognized them, and they certainly would not have recognized us. As it happened, my wife’s sister has a friend who was able to get us backstage after the performance, so we actually met the lead vocalists. We conversed with them, found out about their personal histories and how they came to be on stage in such prominent positions. We went from just knowing who
they were to actually knowing them. In a spiritual sense, I’ve met a lot of guys who think they know Jesus because they’ve seen Him like an actor on stage. But they’ve never gone behind-the-scenes to establish a personal relationship with Him. The secret is to get them backstage, engaging in personal conversation with our Lord . MIMBS 6 Name one friend or acquaintance who knows about Jesus, but you’re not sure if he really knows Him. How can you engage that man in personal conversation with our Lord? Daily Reading: Job 12:1-15:35, 1 Corinthians 15:29-58, Psalm 39:1-13, Proverbs 21:30-31
Wednesday—August 25 Don’t Get Distracted from the Simple Truth of the Gospel
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 When I go to the gym, a radio is playing in the background. One day when I was preparing to speak on the above passage, and I went to work out, the dial was set to a talk radio station. The host was using foul language throughout his discourse. I thought about changing the station, because it was offensive to me. But then I decided to listen to the radio voice for a while to better understand those who gain a following in the world because of their supposed wisdom and knowledge. It’s amazing how far away from the truth you can get when you surround yourself with sycophants who flatter you.
If I had a chance to talk to the radio host, I would not waste time talking about my denomination, or about moral behavior, or even about his foul language. My best chance to have a meaningful conversation would be to stick to the simple message of the cross. I don’t know how he would respond, but I do know that nothing else has the power to bring salvation. MIMBS 6 How do you respond to and converse with a person whose lifestyle offends you? Daily Reading: Job 16:1-19:29, 1 Corinthians 16:1-24, Psalm 40:1-10, Proverbs 22:1
Thursday—August 26 • The Centrality of the Gospel
Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. 1 Corinthians 1:22–25 When you get serious about sharing the Gospel, you will find that some men want a miracle and others are looking for wisdom. They want Jesus to fit into their worldview, rather than forcing their viewpoint to submit to Jesus. They try to reason things out through logic and earthly wisdom. The apostle Paul reminds us of what they really need—the Gospel. That message can be expressed in many ways, but I often use a memory device that summarizes it in three short lines:
•• Adam failed (sin against a holy God). •• Jesus was nailed (paying for sin on the cross).
•• Grace prevailed (all those who repent receive new life). When you offer that message, if the person doesn’t respond favorably, don’t give up. Keep praying that God will call him. And when the opportunity opens, keep sharing. The passage above reminds us that, regardless of whether people are seeking miracles or worldly wisdom, God can effectually call them into His Kingdom. MIMBS 6 Who was instrumental in bringing you into God’s Kingdom? How did they influence you to make that decision? Daily Reading: Job 20:1-22:30, 2 Corinthians 1:1-11, Psalm 40:11-17, Proverbs 22:2-4
Friday, Saturday, Sunday—August 27, 28, 29 Making Room for God’s Spirit to Work I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. 1 Corinthians 2:2–5
If you want to be effective in ministry to men, then pray and prepare for a demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power. Effectiveness does not come through your own wisdom, intellect, or cleverness. You may even negate the Holy Spirit’s power if you try to witness and minister in your own strength. Bill Bright once told me of a pastor who had been using The Four Spiritual Laws booklet for a couple of years without ever leading a person to Jesus. He came to ask Dr. Bright why that was happening, and Dr. Bright replied, “Go through it with me. Show me what you’re doing.” So the man opened the book and read the first principle: “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” He worked his way through the book, stopping after each simple truth to offer a five-minute theological explanation. The pastor kept describing various nuances of the Scripture verses and the points in the booklet. Finally Dr. Bright said, “I think I know your
problem. Instead of trying to explain with all those persuasive words, why don’t you just read the booklet, word for word, and then let the Holy Spirit do His work.” The pastor said he would try it. Suddenly his ministry exploded, because he was coming in weakness and trembling rather than relying on his own clever speech. He just gave the simple message of the Gospel, and people responded! Scripture says if people keep their mouths shut, God can even make stones cry out His praise. But He doesn’t want to do that. He wants to use us, which is pretty exciting. But we must be willing to come in weakness, making room for His Spirit to work. MIMBS 6 Have you been trying to share the Gospel with little or no response? Have you been relying on your own wisdom and strength, or on God’s? Discuss this with a brother and agree to pray and encourage each other to share your faith. Daily Reading: Job 23:133:33, 2 Corinthians 1:12-3:18, Psalm 41:1-43:5, Proverbs 22:5-9
For Your Small Group
❏❏ For August 23-29—On a large piece of paper or whiteboard make two lists: 1) How the world views Jesus 2) How Jesus views the world •• From list #1, what are the misconceptions about Jesus? •• What can we learn from list #2 about how we should interact and impact the world?
Monday —August 30 • God Uses the Weak Things
Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 1 Corinthians 1:26–27 I left my business in 1991, and I said to the Lord, “What do You want me to do?” The only thing that came to mind was to go to Jackson, Mississippi. I thought I would be a great evangelist there—maybe even the next Billy Graham. But the Christians there told me, “We don’t need a revival crusade. We need racial reconciliation.” I called my best buddy of 18 years, Tom Skinner, who is African American. I said, “Why don’t you come down here, and let’s see if we can do something to help.” So we did that. I remember speaking at the first meeting, giving it everything I had. Afterwards a pastor told me, “A group of us have been
praying that God would send us a man, but I’m surprised it’s you. It just proves that God can use the weak things of this world.” He was quoting the passage above. You don’t have to “have it all together” to be an effective Gospel messenger. You just have to submit your weakness to God, and humbly agree to let Him use you. MIMBS 6 Do you regularly see men you know come to faith in Christ? Why or why not? What would it look like for you to let God use you in your weakness? Daily Reading: Job 34:1-36:33, 2 Corinthians 4:1-12, Psalm 44:1-8, Proverbs 22:10-12
Tuesday —August 31 • God Reveals Things by His Spirit As it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” — but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:9–10
You know lots of guys who don’t understand the Gospel. Perhaps you are concerned about their eternal future, but you protest, “I’m not prepared. I don’t know what to say.” God knows that. In fact, it’s your weakness that qualifies you as God’s messenger. Pray for God to open the opportunity, and when He does, just tell your friends, “I’m not clever or wise. In fact, I’m a little nervous right now, but I want you to know something that can change your life now and for eternity…” Evangelism is simply taking
a man as far as he wants to go with Jesus. That’s our job. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to call a man to faith—to be the Mediator who “closes the deal.” By His Spirit, God reveals mysteries to men. He shows them their need, and He empowers them to come to faith in Christ. MIMBS 6 Write a prayer asking God to open the opportunity for you to share the simple message of the Gospel. When the opportunity comes, just explain the simple Gospel. Daily Reading: Job 37:1-39:30, 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:10, Psalm 44:9-26, Proverbs 22:13
Wednesday—September 1 • Following God’s “Building Code” For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s . . . building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 1 Corinthians 3:9–10
In 1981, at the Harbor Cay Condominium in Cocoa Beach, Florida, a building collapsed killing 11 workers. Later, an investigation revealed that the floor slabs in the five-story building had not been poured at the code-specified depth of 11 inches. Instead, they had been cut short to eight inches. Eleven workers died, 27 people were injured, reputations were destroyed, and a lot of money was lost, all for the sake of three inches of concrete. God has a building code also: it’s the Bible. He promises to reward those who follow it. He also warns those who want to take shortcuts. Don’t invite catastrophe by pouring 8 inches of concrete when all 11 are
required. Don’t build a gospel for yourself based on just the parts of the Bible that you like. A contractor studies the plans before construction, and constantly checks them as the building goes up. In the same way, refer to your plans—the Bible—often as you build a life that seeks to honor and follow Christ. MIMBS 7 In your own words, describe the danger of not following God’s building code when you are building your life. Daily Reading: Job 40:1-42:17, 2 Corinthians 5:11-21, Psalm 45:1-17, Proverbs 22:14
Thursday—September 2 • The Foundation Is Jesus For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11
You probably know the importance of having a good foundation for a building. The same is true for your life. Jesus said, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” (Matthew 7:24–25). The opposite is true for the one who hears Jesus’ words and does not act upon them. Jesus compared that to building on soft sand, so that when life’s storms come, the house falls “with a great crash” (Matthew 7:27).
In writing to the Corinthian believers, the apostle Paul compared the work he and other leaders performed among them to constructing a building. He did not claim to be the foundation of their lives. He simply said he laid the foundation, which is Jesus. No other foundation will stand up to life’s tempestuous times. MIMBS 7 Suppose your friend was having a house built, and upon inspection you realized the foundation was not strong enough. How would you know? How does that relate to a spiritual foundation for building a life? Daily Reading: Ecclesiastes 1:1-3:22, 2 Corinthians 6:1-13, Psalm 46:1-11, Proverbs 22:15
Friday, Saturday, Sunday—September 3, 4, 5 Using the Right Building Materials If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is . . . It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 1 Corinthians 3:12–14
When I was in elementary school, somehow I got the idea that I wanted to dig a cave. I don’t know if I was prompted by something I saw on TV or in a movie, but I talked my mom and dad into getting me one of those helmets with the miner’s light on the front, and I started digging. We lived in Florida, which is primarily sandy, so I was burrowing down to get some wet soil so the sides wouldn’t cave in. Then I started digging sideways, and every few feet I would put a “brace”— a board on each side of the tunnel, holding up a third board which supposedly secured the roof. Of course, nothing was bracing the sand between the boards, but it looked pretty good. You’ve probably already guessed what happened. One day I was working way down into my backyard, and the tunnel collapsed. I was buried inside this cave, and I remember wondering if I would die. You can imagine my delight when, after five or ten minutes, I saw my dad pulling away the boards so he could dig me out. I had built with inferior materials, like the “wood, hay or straw” mentioned in today’s
passage, and I suffered the loss. In building our lives, we need to make sure we’re using the right materials. God calls us to build His Kingdom and to tend the culture. As Christians, we want to leave our mark on the world. But what good will it do if we leave the world a better place but we don’t leave the world for a better place? Or as Jesus once asked, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36). MIMBS 7 What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the quality of each man’s work will be tested by fire? Have you experienced the consequences of building with “inferior materials”? Daily Reading: Ecclesiastes 4:1-12:14, 2 Corinthians 6:148:15, Psalm 47:1-49:20, Proverbs 22:16-21
For Your Small Group
❏❏ For August 30-September 5—Read aloud I Corinthians 3:9-15 from several different versions (such as The Message, New Living Translation, New King James or other). •• What does it mean to build your life on a strong foundation? On a weak foundation? •• Has your foundation been tested by the various trials of life? How did it fare? •• Is there a way to make your foundation stronger? If yes, how?
Check out the Great Books for your Small Groups on page 32. Order for your group today!
Monday—September 6 • Test the Quality of Your Building Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. 2 Corinthians 13:5
Life can expose your character issues, sometimes in seemingly insignificant events. Several years ago I went to Las Vegas to speak at a prayer breakfast for 500 shopping center developers. I was going to tell them how Jesus could change their lives. When I left my room that morning, I saw a newspaper in front of every door, except for mine. I said, “Man, I really wanted a newspaper today.” So I reached over, picked up a newspaper from the door across the hall, and started walking away. I got 10 steps down the hallway, and I asked myself, What in the world are you doing? Can Jesus Christ be Lord in that? So I tiptoed back down the hall, because I didn’t
want to get caught, and I returned the newspaper. It’s the simple tests that will help you gauge the quality of the building that represents your life. It will help you determine if you are truly building your life according to God’s code. Simply ask yourself, “In what I am about to think, say, or do, can Jesus Christ be Lord?” MIMBS 7 Has anything happened recently that helped you test the quality of the building that represents your life? Were you happy with the results of the test? Why or why not? Daily Reading: Song of Solomon 1:1-4:16, 2 Corinthians 8:16-24, Psalm 50:1-23, Proverbs 22:22-23
Tuesday—September 7 • Receiving a Reward The fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. 1 Corinthians 3:13b–15
We’ve already noted that God has a building code. He has a plan for building a life that reflects His Son’s character. Today’s passage shows that His code includes a deadline and an inspection. Salvation depends solely on our foundation, our faith in Christ. But someday you will have to account for how you built on that foundation. This isn’t about earning merit—it’s about the work that should accompany authentic faith. When your work faces the test, if it survives you will receive a reward. This passage indicates that our failure will bring about loss. The passages about rewards and
crowns are not the easiest to interpret, but it is clear that both Jesus and Paul thought this message was very important. When Jesus recreates the new heavens and new earth, in some sense people will reap the fruits of their labor. I don’t know about you, but I want to be on the positive end of that equation. MIMBS 7 Explain how works that attempt to earn merit are not the same as works that accompany authentic faith. Daily Reading: Song of Solomon 5:1-8:14, 2 Corinthians 9:1-15, Psalm 51:1-19, Proverbs 22:24-25
Wednesday—September 8 • Can Jesus Be My Lord in This? Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22
If you’re living as a cultural Christian, you’re fitting Jesus into your pre-existing worldview rather than accepting an entirely new view of life. Your faith is tepid and lukewarm, and eventually it will show in your actions. The Scriptures challenge the true believer to live the principles of God’s Word. You can stay on track by aligning your life with this question: Can Jesus be my Lord… •• . . . in the way I drive? •• . . . when I turn in my taxes? •• . . . while I’m selecting something on TV? •• . . . while I’m “discussing” something with my wife?
After working a few years with someone, suppose you finally go to lunch together, and you mention that you are a Christian. If he says, “Wow, I had no idea,” then you’ve probably been building your life with inferior materials. Make your corrections now, because once you die, there’s no “re-do.” MIMBS 7 How would you answer the questions above? Are you merely listening to the Word but not really doing it? How would you like God to help change your character so that He is always Lord? Daily Reading: Isaiah 1:1-2:22, 2 Corinthians 10:1-18, Psalm 52:1-9, Proverbs 22:26-27
q Thursday—September 9 • Weak Men Doing Great Things for God But he [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. . . . For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 A remnant of Hebrew people returned to their homeland following being released from captivity in Babylon. By 446 B.C. nearly a full century passed, and still their nation lay in ruins. Nehemiah, cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, heard about it. He “mourned and fasted and prayed,” and then stepped out in faith, convincing the king to send him to help his people rebuild the ruins of their country and of their lives. The great pioneer missionary Hudson Taylor once noted, “Many Christians estimate difficulties in light of their own resources, and thus attempt little and often fail at the little they do attempt. All God’s giants have been weak men who did great
things for God because they recognized His power and presence being with them.” Nehemiah is one of those giants. He had a realistic view of his nation’s difficulties, yet he trusted in God’s power rather than his own. God is still looking for that kind of man. All we have to say is, “I’m going to the great God of heaven,” and then trust Him to respond. MIMBS 8
Friday, Saturday, Sunday—September 10, 11, 12 A Nation in Ruins
I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” Nehemiah 1:2–3 Nehemiah’s beloved nation lay in ruins. Scripture tells us Jerusalem’s wall was broken down, and the gates had been destroyed. In some ways, that picture also reflected the spiritual and emotional state of the people who inhabited the land. In a similar way, statistics indicate that our nation may be on the verge of moral collapse. Obviously, statistics can be manipulated so they appear to reveal something that simply isn’t true. But at Man in the Mirror, we work hard to use only reliable information. Credible statistics can offer a window into what is happening within a culture. So consider these facts: •• About 113 million men age 15 and older live in the U.S., and 66 million of them make no profession of faith. •• Only six million men (1 in 18) are involved in any kind of spiritual formation or discipleship. •• 72 million children under the age of 18 (one-third of them) do not live with their biological fathers. •• Estimates indicate that 66 percent of children born in the U.S. will not live with both biological parents through the age of 18.
•• Fatherless kids are five times more likely to live in poverty, repeat a grade, or have an emotional problem. The statistics go on and on, and they reveal that we really are a nation in ruins. We’ve completely gutted the system that made our nation great. Yet because of God, our situation is not hopeless. He’s still looking for some modern-day Nehemiahs, men who are willing to say, “I can’t do this on my own, but I’m willing to let God work through me.” MIMBS 8 Looking at each statistic above, can you think of at least one person who fits in each category? Think of those individuals as you pray for the state of our nation, and ask God how He might work through you to make a difference in their lives. Daily Reading: Isaiah 6:1-11:16, 2 Corinthians 11:16-12:21, Psalm 54:1-56:13, Proverbs 23:1-8
For Your Small Group
❏❏ For September 6-12—Ask someone to read aloud the statistics from the devotion above, “A Nation in Ruins.”
Describe a difficult situation you are facing right now. Are you relying on your own power, or on God’s? Explain your answer.
•• Which one of those stats was most surprising to you?
Daily Reading: Isaiah 3:1-5:30, 2 Corinthians 11:1-15, Psalm 53:1-6, Proverbs 22:28-29
•• How can your group help change some of those statistics in your church or community?
•• Do certain people come to mind that fit those categories?
Monday—September 13 The Difference Between Ambition and Calling
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said: “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night . . . Nehemiah 1:4–6a Nehemiah had a good job which took him before important people. He was physically separated from Israel’s ruins. He could have surrendered to complacency, letting his location and limitations keep him from responding to Israel’s dilemma. Yet when he heard about the stark realities in Jerusalem, his first response was to humble himself and pray. Nehemiah’s dreams grew beyond his own circumstances. (See Nehemiah 2:12.) That’s the difference between ambition and calling. Ambition comes from man, while calling comes from God. A lot of men pursue temporal goals that apply only to this world, leading primarily to their own benefit. Nehemiah dreamed about things that would impact a nation.
His written account has engaged men and women throughout the generations, motivating them to attempt the “impossible.” God alone knows the full result of Nehemiah’s willingness to pursue dreams that would take him beyond the limits of what he could accomplish on his own. MIMBS 8 Has God called you to goals that could impact a nation? Would you be open to that? What are some ideas you’ve had that might have a huge impact for the Kingdom? Share these with a brother or in your small group. Daily Reading: Isaiah 12:1-14:32, 2 Corinthians 13:1-14, Psalm 57:1-11, Proverbs 23:9-11
Tuesday—September 14 • Repentance Precedes Vision I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. Nehemiah 1:6b–7
Nehemiah responded to a crisis report from Jerusalem by praying. He opened by recounting God’s character. He noted God’s covenant-keeping love and attentiveness to those in relationship with Him. Then he immediately moved into repentance, identifying himself with the sins of his people. “We have acted wickedly,” he said, not “They have acted wickedly.” It’s impossible for a proud man to repent. True repentance can only come accompanied by humility. That’s why Scripture says God “gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34b), and “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way” (Psalm 25:9). If you want to discover God’s vision for
your life, then I challenge you to start on your knees. Humble yourself and repent. That’s where Nehemiah discovered the vision God had for him, and it was a vision that was bigger than anything Nehemiah could do on his own. It was a vision for rebuilding and restoring his homeland and the people who lived there. MIMBS 8 Can a proud man truly repent? When you look at your own heart, is there unconfessed pride that is keeping you from true repentance? How does humility lead to seeing God’s vision for your life? Daily Reading: Isaiah 15:1-18:7, Galatians 1:124, Psalm 58:1-11, Proverbs 23:12
Wednesday—September 15 • Expect Resistance When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites. Nehemiah 2:10
God gave opportunity for Nehemiah to seek the king’s help in accomplishing his vision from God. The king actually asked, “What do you want?” Nehemiah asked for a lot: permission to leave the king’s household, paperwork for safe passage and resources for the rebuilding project. Nehemiah notes, “Because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests” (Nehemiah 2:8). Nehemiah was on his way. Yet he experienced repeated resistance from two men named Sanballat and Tobiah. They didn’t want anyone to rebuild Israel and heaped ridicule on the Jews and even threatened to attack before the walls could
be finished. But the people relied on God’s strength and finished the walls. Don’t assume that resistance means you are out of God’s will. Return to God in prayer. Seek His wisdom to interpret your circumstances, and His empowerment to resist the opposition. MIMBS 8 When you start pursuing a God-given vision, why is it important to expect resistance? How should you respond to it? Share your thoughts with a few other men. Daily Reading: Isaiah 19:1-21:17, Galatians 2:116, Psalm 59:1-17, Proverbs 23:13-14
Thursday—September 16 • Working in Unity Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate. . . . The men of Jericho built the adjoining section, and Zaccur son of Imri built next to them. Nehemiah 3:1–2
Nehemiah chapter 3 goes on to list various groups who engaged in rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall. Something like 40 different groups lent their strength and energy to this project. They had a plan, and they worked next to each other, assuming responsibility for various sections. Some had a vision to rebuild a large portion of the wall, and others worked only on the portion right in front of their homes. But they were all working in unity on the same wall. I see this as a picture of Christians working together to restore the church and our culture. It may require Episcopalians to
work beside Lutherans, or Baptists to work next to Methodists. People will have different tasks, but as we work in unity, with one overarching goal, we can do great things. It doesn’t really matter how big or small your part is. Just make sure you’re engaged in the overall vision of rebuilding the church. Remember, God works through weak men who humbly accept their own limitations, accepting that “what is impossible with men is possible with God” (Luke 18:27). MIMBS 8 Are you engaged in the overall vision of rebuilding the church? Explain your answer. Daily Reading: Isaiah 22:1-24:23, Galatians 2:17-3:9, Psalm 60:1-12, Proverbs 23:15-16
Friday, Saturday, Sunday—September 17, 18, 19 Present and Willing So the wall was completed . . . in fifty-two days. Nehemiah 6:15
Through God’s empowerment, Nehemiah responded to a crisis. He pursued a Godgiven plan, even in the face of great difficulty. He enlisted the help of other people. These Hebrew people apparently lived in a state of disarray for 100 years. Yet under Nehemiah’s leadership, they completely restored the city wall in only 52 days. Nehemiah 7:4 tells us “the city was large and spacious, but there were few people in it.” So Nehemiah went on to establish a plan to repopulate Jerusalem, sustaining the work that had already been finished. Nehemiah allowed God to use him as an instrument to bring healing and restoration to an entire nation. We’ve listed statistics that indicate our own nation is in a spiritual state of emergency. We see the ruins all around us: broken homes, broken lives and broken people. It’s time to ask ourselves, What are we going to do about it? I went to a little African American Methodist Church in Jackson, Mississippi. I was impressed with their accomplishments, so I asked the pastor, “What’s the secret of your
success?” He said, “I work with the present and the willing, not the absent and the able.” He understood a very important principle. Unexpected leaders are sitting all around you—men you wouldn’t normally expect to have the skills necessary for the task at hand. God is looking for men who will stop assessing our crisis in terms of human resources, humbly exchanging their own limitations for God’s infinite power and capacity. Having a good heart and wanting to do something great for God simply isn’t enough. But if you’re present and you’re willing, God can use you in His plan to rebuild and restore the broken places in our culture. MIMBS 8 Have you been among “the present and the willing” or among the “absent and the able”? Daily Reading: Isaiah 25:1-33:9 Galatians 3:10-5:12, Psalm 61:163:11, Proverbs 23:17-23:22
For Your Small Group
❏❏ For September 13-19—One of our devotions tells us that “Ambition comes from man, while calling comes from God.” •• Take a few minutes to discuss the differences between ambition and calling. •• Share a time when you have you experienced ambition or calling. What were the outcomes? •• How do the end results differ from one another?
Monday—September 20 • Affirm Their Manhood And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased”. Matthew 3:17
One of my favorite movies is Cool Runnings. The story line follows a young man who desperately needs to be affirmed by his own father as a man instead of a boy. At one significant point in the movie, they have a confrontation. The son asks his father, “When you look at me, what do you see?” It’s clear that the dad still sees his son as a boy. Tragically, the young man knew that until that perception changed, he needed to separate from his own dad. He was forced to find his manhood on his own. If as older men we are to really connect with younger men, we must see them with God’s eyes. We must affirm their manhood and not make them earn it over and
over again every time they are around us. —Chuck Stecker Were you forced to find manhood on your own? Or were you given that gift from your father? Daily Reading: Isaiah 33:10-36:22, Galatians 5:13-26, Psalm 64:110, Proverbs 23:23
Tuesday—September 21 • Do Not Forget Your Past At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. Titus 3:3
Every time I see a young man with his pants “sagging,” I want to let him know just how stupid it looks. And it’s not just the pants. There are so many things this younger generation of men does that are just so wrong in so many ways. But before I can get too excited about being the only carrier of truth and the corrector of wrongdoing and wrong-thinking by younger men, I probably need to burn all my high school yearbooks. Do you remember how we wore our jeans back in the 60’s? Pulled down over our hips as low as we
could get them, and then we waited for the principal to tell us to “pull ’em up.” Finally, there is that issue of plain old sin. It is essential, as older men, we do not forget all that God has forgiven in our lives. Connecting generations gets easier if we do not start with what is wrong with each other. —Chuck Stecker What do your children and grandchildren need to hear from you? Daily Reading: Isaiah 37:1-38:22, Galatians 6:118, Psalm 65:1-13, Proverbs 23:24
Wednesday—September 22 • Do Something Together In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:17
If you want to connect with a man, younger or older, do something with them. Men are doers and we connect best if we are doing something together. It does not have to be complicated or strenuous. One of the best times I ever had talking with my oldest son was as we were working on his car together. We simply changed the oil and performed some
routine maintenance. Yet in that time, we really talked. In fact, any activity together can be the field in which you plant and grow a relationship. It can be as simple as playing catch. Any activity done with another man that is not too personal or threatening has the potential of the beginning of a relationship. If you want to connect with a younger man, ask him to do something—anything— together. As you are engaged in the activity, whatever it is, ask him about himself. —Chuck Stecker Have your men discuss and plan an activity for the teens or young men in your church. Be sure to make it something they would enjoy. Daily Reading: Isaiah 39:1-41:16, Ephesians 1:1-23, Psalm 66:1-20, Proverbs 23:25-28
Thursday—September 23 • Doing Life Together After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him. Luke 8:1
In the late 60’s and 70’s, the popularity of the sport of racquetball exploded. Racquetball clubs were built as fast as developers could acquire land and significant numbers of club memberships were often sold before the club was open. Then as fast as day turns to night, clubs ran into financial problems. Most were eventually sold and used for other purposes. Now you can find a few clubs with mostly older players. Why did the sport fade so quickly? Simple—we older players chose to play with our peers and not with younger men or our children. Connecting with younger men involves
a determination to do life together. It is a principle that Ken Larson calls, “Life Walking.” Jesus modeled this for all of us. He connected with His disciples by intentionally doing life with them. Don’t have a racquetball club faith! Look around at the younger men that God has already brought near you. Which one(s) should you intentionally start doing life with? —Chuck Stecker Are you willing to “do life together” with the younger men in your life? What would that look like to you? Daily Reading: Isaiah 41:17-43:13, Ephesians 2:1-22, Psalm 67:1-7, Proverbs 23:29-35
Friday, Saturday, Sunday—September 24, 25, 26 We Get What We Look For Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12
The words of the apostle Paul to a much younger man are very powerful. Paul sent Timothy into a very difficult situation. It seems that older men were teaching false doctrine and tearing apart a church that Paul had planted. Paul chose to send a young man with very clear instructions. The first instruction was not “seven steps to reestablish proper teaching in the church.” The first instruction was directed at how Timothy was to see himself. Perhaps the scripture should be read differently by some of us “older guys.” Could it be that we should read the scripture in this manner: “Don’t look down on these young guys. Some of them are doing better than you at being the men they were created to be and are setting the example for others in speech, in life, in love and in purity.” A person often sees what they are looking for in another person. If you are determined that another person is worthless, you will probably not find anything of value in them. If you are determined to see the good in others, you will be amazed at how much good you are able to see. This generation of young guys is really bringing some skills and grit to the game. They are sharp and looking for truth. They
are strong and courageous. They are gifted in ways I can only dream about. I see this in my children and their friends. I see this in young men I have the privilege of being around in every area of my life. Connecting with younger men involves seeing them with God’s eyes. It involves looking for the best in a young man. In the end, you are likely to see what you are looking for. —Chuck Stecker What are some things you could learn from younger men? What do you admire about the young men in your church or community? Daily Reading: Isaiah 43:14-50:11, Ephesians 3:1-4:32, Psalm 68:1-69:18, Proverbs 24:1-6
For Your Small Group
❏❏ For September 20-26—Have each man make a list of things that they could teach younger men and then a list of things that they might learn from younger men. •• Take a few minutes to discuss those lists with one another. •• Have you found that you are critical of the younger generations? Why? •• Are you willing to teach younger men and learn from them?
Monday—September 27 • It’s Not About You
Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. 1 Thessalonians 5:14, NLT One of the best-selling books in the past decade was The Purpose Driven Life. There were over 30 million copies of the book sold worldwide. Rick Warren’s first sentence in the book starts with, “It’s not about you . . . ” It is easy to get caught up just thinking about ourselves. Our minds are riddled with questions like: How can I make more money? When can I retire? How can I save my job? How can I get to the front of the line? Who’s going to take care of me? But as Pastor Warren reminds us and the Bible instructs us, it’s not about you. We have a great purpose and a great responsibility. As our Scripture verse today says, God calls us to encourage and care for others.
It may be time to create a new list of questions to ponder: How can I help that fatherless child in my neighborhood? What can I do to help the hungry people in my town? How can the guys in our church reach out to the homeless men in our community? MIMBS 9 Reflect on your activities over the last week. Estimate the percentage of your time that was spent for the benefit of others. Could you increase that percentage this next week? Ask another man for a few ideas. Daily readings: Isaiah 51:1-53:12, Ephesians 5:1-33, Psalm 69:19-36, Proverbs 24:7
Tuesday—September 28 • Life is not Fair If it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Romans 12:8
My friend Jim and I go to lunch almost every Friday. Sometimes we go to a deli that makes huge sandwiches. Neither one of us has a big appetite, so we usually split one sandwich. It gets tricky when the waitress serves us the two halves. I start to think, Do I take the smaller half or the bigger half? It wouldn’t be fair if I took the bigger half every week. I would feel ripped off if Jim took the bigger half
each time. What to do? It’s kind of a silly conversation that takes place in our heads. But we must admit that we do have those thoughts. We don’t want to take advantage of others and we don’t want others to take advantage of us. The great thing about our relationship with God is that we never have to think about what is fair. He asks us to give and give generously, to love with our whole heart and give mercy when it is undeserved. Remember that is exactly what He has done for us! MIMBS 9 Think of a time when you felt that someone took advantage of you. How did you react? How have you made peace with that situation? Daily Reading: Isaiah 54:1-57:14, Ephesians 6:1-24, Psalm 70:1-5, Proverbs 24:8
Wednesday—September 29 • Can He Be Trusted? He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:3, NLT
Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” When we are let down or lied to, it is very hard to trust again, isn’t it? It is difficult to believe that you can put your trust in a human that is as flawed as you are. Have you ever let someone down? Did you ever tell your child you’d be at his game and didn’t make it? Have you ever failed to have a report ready for your boss? Have you promised something to your spouse and didn’t follow through? Of course you have! We all have failed someone and someone has failed us.
Because of our own human failures, we sometimes find it difficult to fully trust God. But Christ is completely trustworthy. But His ways are not our ways. We can trust Him with our families, our finances, our jobs and our lives. He can be fully trusted— do you believe it? MIMBS 9 Are there areas of your life that you have tried to control because you didn’t trust God with them? Are you willing to relinquish those areas to Him? Why or why not? Daily Reading: Isaiah 57:15-59:21, Philippians 1:1-26, Psalm 71:1-24, Proverbs 24:9-10
Thursday—September 30 • Looking for Direction? Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8
Do you listen to the morning radio to determine your route to work? Do you tune into one of TV’s financial gurus to decide where to invest your money? Do you check the housing market in order to make a decision about selling your house? Most of us would answer “yes” to at least one of those questions. And it does make sense to gather information about important decisions. But our first source for direction in making difficult decisions should always be God. His ways are not our ways. His way is not always about you. His way may not seem “fair.” But, He can always be trusted. When we have an important decision to make about our time, money or relationships, His plan may be different for our plan. Instead of a big investment in the stock market, God may want you to invest in a ministry or help someone in need.
Next time you need direction, look to Him first. He has a plan and He wants you to be a part of it. Spend time in prayer and ask God to show you one way He wants you to take part in His plan this week. Share your prayer with a small group of men. Daily Reading: Isaiah 60:1-62:5, Philippians 1:272:18, Psalm 72:1-20, Proverbs 24:11-12
What Leaders Have to Say About Reaching Young Men for Christ
The theme of this issue of Equipping the Man in the Mirror is “Reaching Younger Men for Christ.” We asked our Field Network Leaders to give us their insight into this important issue. Check out these answers from:
TC—Tom Cheshire, Illinois IN—Ike Newingham, Virginia JH—Jon Harmon, Idaho RG—Rich Gerberding, Illinois ML—Mark Lubbock, Louisiana
JS—Jim Shields, Indiana NB—Neil Brown, North Carolina BP—Bill Pasierb, New York JP—John Plug, Illinois
Was there someone that impacted you as a young man (teens or twenties)? What did they do that made an impact on you? IN: T he man who led me to Christ at 16 had a huge impact on my life. We did Bible studies together. He had me memorize 15-20 verses a week (I am not exaggerating). I didn’t know that was impossible, so I just did it. We hung around a lot together . . . ball games, rebuilding car engines, etc. His life was a great example of what a Christian man should be.
RG: A campus ministry leader took the time to get to know me without every interaction feeling like it was about getting me saved. He’d answer questions honestly, patiently, and wasn’t scared to say when he didn’t know. I’ll never forget him saying, “I like talking with you because you’re a skeptic, and when God gets a hold of you He’s going to do great things through you.”
JP: A pastor and a coach had a huge impact on my teenage years. They both gave me confidence, built my self-esteem, and showed a genuine interest in me.
How have you seen churches effectively draw and retain younger men?
TC: Y ounger men are hungry for the Gospel. They want answers from God’s Word, and pastors who can teach and preach Scripture effectively from their cultural perspective have great influence in younger men’s lives. IN: T hose that I am familiar with are very relational. Small groups are a priority. High energy programming for their men.
JH: T hree key things that I have seen: 1) Youth leaders who are trained and focused on the needs of teens at different stages of their development. 2) A young adult ministry whose leader(s) can come alongside them, mentor them, and provide age appropriate discipleship activities during these critical growth years. 3) A men’s ministry that is prepared to continue the transition they are making from the teen years to the adult years. ML: T he churches that are drawing young men have group activities that bring the men together, but also have responsible roles within the church for them to fill.
Q Q& A
Based on conversations you’ve had, what repels younger men from the church? TC: F ake Christian people. Young men respect honesty and other men who are real, in the sense they are willing to share and admit they don’t have it all figured out. JS: Lack of relevance, lack of mentoring. NB: Older congregation, traditions, archaic style of worship, churches still living in the 20th century, lack of use of technology.
BP: It’s old. It’s boring. They are too busy (with life). Are the needs of today’s younger generations of men different from those that came before them? If yes, in what ways? TC: Y ounger men are even more wounded than the previous generations of men. Political correctness, feminism, lack of strong role models, media, pornography and on and on. They are marrying later, hitting transitions in life later, which will move the “mid-life” crisis and other transitions later.
IN: T he biggest lie of the enemy today is that men aren’t interested in spiritual things. They are. However, I do feel the challenges of younger men are greater because of generally weaker or non-existent male leadership, temptations are rampant, ethical and moral standards are very low. It’s a tough time to be a follower of Christ.
ML: T he social interaction that takes place today is different with the instant connectivity offered through cell phones and PC. Yet the basic “needs and wants” remain the same.
If you were to sit down with a younger man (18–30 years old), what would you say to him to “make the case” for committing his life to following Christ and becoming involved in the local church. IN: T his is going to be abbreviated. I would tell him that God loves him and wants him to experience life to it’s fullest. That’s because of Jesus’ death and resurrection he can have a brand new life, and have everything to live for including heaven (1 Pet. 1:3-4, The Message) I would tell him that if he believes in Christ and gives (surrenders) his life to Him that his sins past, present, and future will be forgiven (Romans 8:1, nlt) I would answer all his questions and concerns as best I can and then if the Holy Spirit is moving in his life, I would lead him to Christ.
TC: F irst I have to have established a “real” relationship with him. That being said I would discuss the struggles and issues he has are all addressed by the Gospel. While having a gospel-centered life will not “fix” everything, it will help it all make sense. I would ask him to walk with me and some other men and process life using the Gospel as our filter. I would encourage him to engage with other Christ-followers and commit to a noble cause like a strong marriage, being a strategic father and serving Christ with his gifts and abilities. Then ask him to have grace and mercy on all he encounters just like Jesus does for him.
continued from page 5
Your Work Is Ministry. Every vocation is holy to the Lord. Your work is not just a platform to do ministry—it is ministry! Whether you’re a minister, plumber, or doctor, it’s all the same to God. Work falls into that area we call The Cultural Mandate (Genesis 1:28). A man once said, “I’m an ordained math teacher.” Don’t you just love that? If you drive a truck, you are an ordained truck driver. If you fix computers, you’re an ordained computer repairman. And so on.
Do Not Exchange Truth for a Lie, or Worship an Idol. There are a lot of “do not’s” we could list, but the “starting point” for most problems is to exchange the truth of God for a lie, or the glory of God for an idol (see Romans 1:23, 25). Money love, in particular, is a huge problem. “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction… Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:9-10). Ouch! “No one can serve two masters” (Luke 16:13).
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Suffering Is a Precious Gift From God. We can suffer 1) for doing right, 2) for doing wrong, or 3) for no apparent reason. Sometimes we’re being tested, other times disciplined, other times we’re bystanders caught up in someone else’s troubles. Mother Teresa said, “Your sufferings are the kisses of Jesus.” We’re invited to participate in the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:10). It’s a privilege to suffer for Christ (Philippians 1:29). We should not be surprised when we suffer (1 Peter 4:12). We should consider it joy to suffer (James 1:2, Romans 5:3). When we suffer, sin loses power (1 Peter 4:1-2). His grace is sufficient for His power—the power of a transformed life—is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). God is making us, not breaking us. We often mistake equipping as abandonment.
Are you satisfied with the spiritual depth of the men around you, especially the men in your church? If not, consider starting a weekly Discussion Group to go over these 10 Commandments. Who knows? You may start a revival.
• Dr. patrick morley
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8 dynamic 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. E vents ar e designe d to “break-eve n” financia lly. L ife Pla ns (a 6-w eek follow Bible stud -up y) include d. P re-event training m anual included.
After building one of Florida’s 100 largest privately held companies, in 1991 Dr. Patrick Morley founded Man in the Mirror, a non-profit organization to help men find meaning and purpose in life. Dr. Morley is the bestselling author of 13 books including The Man in the Mirror, No Man Left Behind, Pastoring Men, and A Man’s Guide to the Spiritual Disciplines.
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I will bring honor to your name in every generation. â€”Psalm 45:17a, nlt
Published on Jun 29, 2010