A Spiritual Happy Man Prays For and With His Wife

Power of PrayerWe have heard many talk about prayer and the power of prayer.  In Matthew 7:7-11 Jesus encourages us to Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

In the Psalms, we see many prayers.  In Luke 18:1-8 we read about the parable of the persistent widow.  Paul often talked about praying for the churches who received his letters.  In James 5:16 we read, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.  All through scripture we see many praying for various needs for the nation of Israel and the church.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:25 that we as Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  So, we are to be like Christ to our wives.  Those of us who are married need to understand the positions we hold.  Christ is the Prophet, Priest, and King to the church.  Therefore, if we are to be like Christ then we also need to act as a prophet, priest, and king to our wives and families.  A husband is to be like a prophet by listening to God and then sharing the word with his family; as a priest, he listens to his family and presents their request to God; and as king he leads and directs his family in the manner Christ leads and directs.  He is to be an example of Christ to his family.

We see all through scripture the importance to pray and how we husbands are to be the leaders and examples of Christ.  We are to set the tone in our homes for worship and spiritual growth; for service and being missionaries in our communities.  As I have often told men, your first missionary field is in your home.  We need to be praying for our families and especially for and with our wives.

Scriptures tells us that a man shall leave is mother and father and become one with his wife (Gen 2:24).  So, if we are to be one, doesn’t it make sense to invite God into your marriage through prayer.  Peter wrote in his first letter, “Man prayingHusbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered(1 Peter 3:7).  I purposely bolded that phrase “so that your prayers may not be hindered” to emphasize if we do not want our prayers to be hindered, be sure you treat your wife in the manner God expects you to treat her.  Doesn’t it make sense to invite God into your marriage through prayer since scriptures tells us we are to be ‘one?’  Praying for and with my wife brings the greatest power in the universe into my most important earthy relationship.

As I talk to men I find that many lack the discipline to pray.  Make no mistake, if you have not been doing this Satan will give you all kinds of reasons not to start.  It is difficult for us to knock down that manly pride and ask forgiveness to our wives and families for not praying.  But we must do so to fight this battle that is raging all around us for the souls of our family.  We must discipline ourselves to pray for our families regularly.

As we pray we need to 1) pray for our marriage in general, 2) pray for our wife specifically, and 3) pray for our own struggles in marriage.  When we begin to pray for our wives and their needs we will find that many of the struggles will go away.  Praying with your wife is powerful.  Statistics tells us that nine out of ten couples who pray together will stay married until death.

Husband PrayingNow if you are a man who likes to be organized then I suggest you and your wife appoint a time when you would get together to pray.  Maybe get a devotional book to work through together and maybe keep a journal of your times together.  If you are a spontaneous man, then be opportunistic.  Sometime during the day, maybe as she is going out the door to run errands or you to work and you make that physical contact to hug or kiss, hold her for a few moments and pray.  When you are dealing with family decisions – pray together.  You will find that most decision will be much easier to make.

For you young men who are not married or maybe you men who are marrying later in life, what can you do?  Begin praying today for the bride God has for you.  Praying that God has begun a work in her life and pray that God will begin to help you understand what it means to be a husband.  That you will be a man who loves his wife as Christ loves the church and that you will live with her in an understanding way and honor her.  Begin praying for your future wife today.

As I lay down in my bed for sleep in the evening; my wife is lying beside me already asleep as she usually goes to bed earlier than I since I am a night person and she is a morning person.  The only sound I hear is the fan blades cutting through the stillness of the room as I reach over and lay my hand on her shoulder.  I begin to pray for her as I fall asleep.  In the morning, I set at my desk after doing my devotion and begin to pray.  My wife is the first person I pray for during this time.  I pray that I will be the husband she needs.  That I will love her as Christ loved the church.  That I will live with her in an understanding way and honor her.  But what I am ashamed about is the fact that I did not always do this.  Since I have developed this habit it has greatly enriched my spiritual walk and it has created a deeper love for my wife.  A love that can only come from Christ.  There is nothing more intimate outside of physical contact as there is to pray for and with your wife.

If you haven’t been praying for and with your wife – begin today.  You will be richly blessed.

Oh yeh… I am one of those spontaneous guys.

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men – Mike

A Spiritual Happy Man Serves

Think for a moment of the best gift you received as a child.  Say in your elementary years of your life.  You got it?  I got mine.  I was in the first grade and I got an electric race car set for Christmas.  But what made it so special is that I remember my older brother – who is several years older – playing with me practically all day.  I looked back on that moment as him sacrificing his time to spend time with me.  Though it was most likely became-jay-race-setuse I had a race car set and he wanted to play with it.  But he didn’t have to.

You see, my brother is 14 years older than I, which would have made him about 20 years old at the time.  Probably home for Christmas from the Air Force and a few months before he shipped out to Japan for two years.  But his gift to me of getting on the floor and playing with me is a special memory to me.  He probably doesn’t even remember it.  But to me, it was special.

As we continue in the third installment of the habits of a spiritual happy man we are going to look at serving.  Going out of your way to minister to others.  Not the easy stuff but the hard.

Let’s begin by looking at 1 Peter 4:10-11;

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God suppliesin order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.  To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.

One of our take-aways from this passage is understanding our mindset.  How we approach serving.

The gospel is about transformation.  I know of a church that states its purpose is “To join God in His work to transform lives.”  Romans 12:2 tells us, Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”  When we come to Christ we are not to continue in the behavior and customs of this world.  But we are to allow the Holy Spirit to transform our lives.  2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

But our refusal to conform to this world’s values must go even deeper, it must be firmly planted in our mind.  The New Living Testament translate Romans 12:2 this way, “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”  It is possible to avoid most worldly customs and still be proud, covetous, selfish, stubborn, and arrogant.  It is only when the Holy Spirit renews, reeducates, and redirects our mind are we truly transformed.  Romans 8:5 lets us know that, For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  Men who are growing spiritually will see that their mindset is changed.

servingWe need to understand that God supplies the strength for us to serve.  Look at verse 11 of 1 Peter, “One who serves by the strength that God supplies.”  Maybe God has something else in mind here than just doing work.  It doesn’t take much strength to give money to the Salvation Army as you walk by the bell ringers at Christmas time.  It doesn’t take much strength to participate at a church’s clean-up day or tell someone that you will pray for them.  Though these are good and I would encourage you to do all, I think Peter was speaking of something much deeper here.  Peter was encouraging us to get deeply involved in someone’s life – with people who are truly hurting.  No matter the size of your church, or the condition of the people attending, there are hurting people everywhere.

Sometimes getting involved with people who are hurting will get messy and be inconvenient.  Jesus didn’t tell us to pick up our cross to get up early to read and study the Bible.  He didn’t tell us to pick up your cross and take people supper when they are sick; no, he told us to pick up our cross and follow Him.  What did He do when He picked up His cross – he went to die for you and me for the redemption of our sins.  Yes, we need to read and study our Bibles.  Yes, we should be willing to take supper to those who are sick.  But we need to be willing to die to our needs for the needs of others.

Even Jesus on the night before His crucifixion ask the Father to “let this cup pass from me” (Matt.26:39).  Yet, He didn’t let his desire prevent Him from doing that which the Father desired.  We need to be willing to take up our cross and follow Jesus even when it is inconvenient, uncomfortable, and difficult.  Sometimes this will make us feel inadequate but that is when we will see the strength God will supply.  When you do this, my guess is, you are serving someone like God expects us to.

God has given you a gift to serve and He expects us to use that gift to serve others.  Look at verse 10 of 1 Peter 4; “each has received a gift, use it to serve one another.”  Not to serve yourself but someone else.  We need to be oriented to serving others.  A self-oriented life always leaves us as a shell of the man we should be in God.  Are you using your gift for the good of others?  We do not need to be self-center but other-center.

praying-with-menOur abilities should be faithfully used in serving others, none of our gifts are for our inclusive enjoyment.  Some people, aware of their abilities, believe they have the right to use their abilities as they please.  Others, feel that they have no special talents at all.  Peter addresses both groups in these verses.  Everyone has gifts; find yours and use them.  Peter mentions speaking and serving.  Paul lists these and other abilities in Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-11; and Ephesians 4:11.  Even as you seek to discover your gifts, if you see a need in the church, seek to meet it.  You may find gifts in areas you might not have guessed!

Then we see in verse 11 that we do this “in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”  How is God glorified when we use our abilities?  When we used them as he directs, to help others, they will see Jesus in us and glorify Him for the help they have received.  Peter may have been thinking of Jesus’ word “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt 5:16).

As a Follower of Christ, we need to serve others beyond ourselves.  We need to reach out in difficult situations.  We need to be intentional in our serving.  We need to be willing to step out even when we feel inadequate.  God will supply our strength.  You need to have a deep, intentional, spiritual impact in one person’s life.  When you do, you will love it and God will get the glory.

So, to be a spiritual happy man, discover your gifts and use them to impact others; but more importantly, to Glorify God.

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men – Mike

A Spiritual Happy Man Is in A Small Group

As we continue on the habits of a spiritual happy man let’s review the premise we established last month.  ‘The strength of a church is not proportionally related to the strength of its programs or ministries; not related to the number of members or people attending; not related to the popularity of the pastor or his ability to expand and deliver the Word of God; but, of the spiritual strength of each man who is in the church.’

Today we are going to look at the habit of men being in small groups.  Why do leaders make such a fuss to get men in small groups?  What do they see, that wants men – you – in a small group?

Man StruggleMen tend to be isolationists; we like to live our lives in isolation.  Yes, we get together and have a good time; but, when it comes to day-to-day struggles, we tend to try and work it out for ourselves.  When women have problems or concerns they move toward relationships – when men have problems or concerns they tend to move towards isolation.  We have been wired and trained from the earliest of age to believe that if we cannot deal with our own problems it is a sign of weakness.  And you know what, the Devil knows this.

Scripture tells us that “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”, (1 Peter 5:8).  Noticed that I underlined “someone.”  The scriptures does not say a group of people but someone, a person who is alone.  Lions attack sick, young, or straggling animals; they choose victims who are alone or not alert.  Peter warns us to watch out for Satan when we are suffering or struggling with an issue.  If you are feeling alone, weak, helpless, and cut off from other believers, or if you are so focused on your troubles that you forget to watch for danger, those are the times when you are especially vulnerable to Satan’s attacks.  During times of suffering, we need to seek Christian brothers for support.  Satan understands the value of isolation and attacking those by themselves.

Oftentimes you will see men who are always acting as if everything is great, fine, perfect.  We ask each other how are you doing and we answer with, “Everything is great, couldn’t be better.”  But deep down we know that we are struggling as we are seek answers and we are at a lost on what to do.

Jesus built a small group when he chose those twelve men to walk alongside him; men who he poured his life into for three years.  He started the mindset of a small group and the purpose of the small group.  So, we see that God in is His infinite wisdom recognized that He has more options to help you when you are in a small group.  Think about it – when you are isolated, who has more options?  The Devil, a predator like a lion seeking to devour you.

Discipleship GroupSo, you ask what can a small group do for me?  Well, we can start with scripture.  Paul wrote to the Galatians, Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.  Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” (Gal. 6:1-2).  No brother in Christ should ever think that he is totally independent and does not need help from others, and no one should feel excused from the task of helping others.

Solomon in his wisdom wrote, Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!,” (Ecc. 4:9-10).  Then in verse 12 Solomon wrote, And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand hima threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  Men we need each other.  Notice in verse 12 Solomon said “a man might prevail.”  This does not mean he will.  It just means he might win some battles; but, he will not win them all, or even close.  Men, as all humans, are built and designed for companionship, not isolation, for relationships, not loneliness.  We are not here on earth to serve ourselves; but, to serve God and others.  Don’t isolate yourself and try to go it alone.  Seek companions; seek a small group.

Hebrews 10:24-25, let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.  Yes, I know that we typically use this scripture to encourage the saints to gather together for worship on Sunday mornings.  But the scripture does not really differentiate the difference of Sunday mornings or just gathering together.  Look what the writer says, “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” and “encouraging one another.”

courageous-movie-men-praying-7Let me share one more scripture that is very familiar in ministries to men, Proverbs 27:17; oftentimes we use this verse, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  There is truth here, but the only way this can be applied in our lives is to spend time with other men.  Other men, who we will give permission to challenge us when they see us missing the mark; holding us accountable in our walk with Christ.

So, what makes a really good small group for men?  Two or more men who want to walk more closely with God (I recommend groups of no more than four to five for accountability purposes), a leader who is passionate for his men and prays for them regularly; and a respect for the process of relationships.  In other words, kind of like the Vegas slogan, “What is said here, stays here!”

Let me encourage you, if you do not have such men in your life; find one or a group of men.  You will be blessed to have such men who will challenge you, be a listening ear when you need to talk, and more importantly, pray for you.  “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  The only way this can happen is to have someone in your life that will sharpen you, to knock off those rough edges and smooth the edge so you can be ready to fight the battle that lays before us every day.  To put on that whole armor of God that Paul speaks of in Ephesians Chapter 6.

We need men who will stand shoulder to shoulder with us every day.  When you see pictures depicting ancient times with men readying for battle, how are those men standing in formation?  Or if you watch movies such as Troy, or Braveheart as the men are getting ready to charge, how are those men standing?  Shoulder to Shoulder.

Will you be a man who will stand shoulder to shoulder with another man in this battle?  Will you pour your life into other men?  Will you let other men pour their lives into you?  Do you want to change families in your church?  Do you want to change your church to be more of an impact to your community?  Then start by sharing life with other men – men within your church and men outside your church.  Developing relationships that will sharpen each of us to be the man God desires for us all and imparting the Gospel of God into each other’s lives.

A Spiritual Happy Man Reads His Bible Regularly

“The real strength of the church is not the amount of its work but the quality of its faith.  One man who truly knows his bible is worth more to the church’s real strength than a crowd of workers who do not.” – P.T. Forsyth, British Theologian of the early 20th Century.

man-reading-bible31As we begin these series about a spiritual happy man lets establish this premise.  The strength of a church is not proportionally related to the strength of its programs or ministries; not related to the number of members or people attending; not related to the popularity of the pastor or his ability to expand and deliver the Word of God; but, of the spiritual strength of each man who is in the church.

Beginning with this month and for the next several months we are going to look at the spiritual happy man.  What do we need to do – habits we need to develop – to ensure that we are moving toward spiritual happiness and growing in our relationship with our Lord.  The first thing we need to do is to encourage each other and the men in our churches to learn to read.  Let’s face it, as a rule, men don’t like to read.  We don’t even read instructions when we purchase a new product.  I must confess that when I was recently setting up a new printer in my office I had to force myself to read the instructions.  We just try to ‘wing-it’ so we can show we don’t need anyone telling us what to do.

Often when I talk with men I tell them there are three things I want them to do; 1st, Read; 2nd, Read; and 3rd, Read.  I believe we will all agree that men are not avid readers and when it comes to the word of God, the Bible, we tend to justify in our minds why we do not have time to read or why we don’t need to read.  But reading the Bible is valuable to every man.  Why?  Because it is true.

In Proverbs 30:5, we are told that “Every word of God proves true” and God “is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”  Jesus said, If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7).  Jesus’ words though can only abide in us if we read the Bible regularly.  God told Joshua regarding the Book of the Law that “You shall meditate on it day and night,” (Joshua 1:8).  The Psalmist writes that a blessed man delight “in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:1-2).  And of course, we are instructed by the Psalmist in Psalm 119:11 to store up the word in our hearts so that we might not sin against God.  The Bible is full of encouragement for us to read, meditate, and hide the Word of God in our hearts.

imagesThe Bible is also how God speaks to us to instruct and teach us.  Isaiah writes, For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:10-11).  Paul wrote to Timothy and told him that All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Men need to understand that our lives will never change in any significant way apart from the regular study of God’s Word.  I have found that I have a bond with men who have made the Bible their final authority.  We need to fix our eyes on Jesus by looking in His Word regularly and allowing His Word to penetrate deeply into our very being.  The single significant contribution we can make to another man is to help him understand the path to finding peace and comfort is through Jesus and the reading of His Word.

So, what is our goal?   In Hebrews we read these words, Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus (Heb.12:1-2a).  The phrase here that stands out to me is for us to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely.”  How many of us are still clinging to a sin that is weighing us down and preventing us to endure the race?  Keeping us from reading and studying the Bible like we should.

When I find active sin in my life that I have not confused I am less likely to be interested in reading God’s Word.  When I finally come to my senses, recognize the sin, confess it, and ask forgiveness; I tend to be more active in my reading and allowing God to speak to me.  In John 1:6 we find this to be true as the Bible tells us, If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  Sin will keep us from the Word of God and will keep us from having a desire to practice the truth.

Another goal is to let the Holy Spirit teach us all things.  John 14:26 tells us, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.  As more and more of the word becomes infused into our lives we will find it easier to recognize false teachings which we are told to be aware.  You will also find times when in conversation the Holy Spirit will bring back remembrance of scriptures you have read.  When this occurs to you, you will find it powerful and encouraging.  But it will only happen by reading the Word of God – the Bible – regularly.

downloadI should not need to tell you the importance of a private devotion.  We need to encourage every man in our groups to have a private time to read, meditate, and reflect on the Word of God.  A time that is quiet and away from the busyness of the day.  The Center for Bible Engagement states that in their research they find there is no significant difference in people who read their Bibles 2-3 times a week than those who do not read their Bibles at all.  Studies indicate we need to read at least four days a week.  People who read the Bible at least 4 times a week look at the significance of the word differently than those who don’t.

Here are some suggestions to encourage you to become more active in reading and listening to the Word of God.

  1. Get a Read the Bible in a Year bible. This Bible is laid out in a manner that will allow you to read a portion of scriptures over 365 days.  If you do this don’t beat yourself up if you skip a day.  Just make a commitment to catch up.
  2. Buy an audio of the Bible. If you are one who is on the road a lot like I was you can listen to the Bible.  But beware this does not take the place of deliberate reading of the word; but, at least you will be hearing the Word of God.
  3. Make a commitment to read five minutes a day five days a week for 30 days. See if this does not create a habit to read the bible.
  4. Read a chapter a day in the New Testament. If you read one chapter every day for five days a week you will read all of the New Testament in one year.  If you read five chapters a day, five days a week you will read the whole bible in about 11 months.

We need to be encouraging our men to read every day.  Ask each man in your small groups what are they reading and how did the Word speak to them since your last meeting.  Hold each other accountable.  When our men make reading the Bible a spiritual habit, allowing God to speak to us and teach, we will find ourselves wanting more of the things of God.