Have a BLA Moment with Your Men

Some time back my mentor in men’s ministry introduced me to a concept he called Barnabas Luncheon Appointment or BLA for short.

Jeff Kisiah and Me
Jeff Kisiah (right) and me having a BLA moment

Often, I will see pictures of him on Facebook meeting with someone with a caption saying something about a BLA moment.  These times have always encouraged me as I continue with the ministry God has placed on me.

A BLA is a time for men to meet and talk about what God is doing in their lives and how we could pray for each other.  Though I don’t have the opportunity to have those BLAs with him as often we use to, I still enjoy having them with other men that God has brought into my life for various reasons.  Though the name implies you are meeting over food (and most meetings with men is over food), it doesn’t have to be.  It can be at any time and at any place.

As a men’s leader, I want to encourage you to make it a point to spend time with your men periodically, one-on-one, and begin to develop relationships with them that goes beyond the group times.  These are the times when you can focus on the man and pour your life into him.  It gives him an opportunity to be more open to you about issues in their life they may not wish to share with others and for you to pray and encourage him.

Now it is unrealistic to think you can spend quality time with all the men in your church like this, so you will need to pray for God to direct you to the men to create those BLA moments.  As you demonstrate this, maybe other men in your church will begin to imitate you and begin their own BLA ministry, most likely from the men you meet with.  As my mentor demonstrated this to me and I often saw him doing this it impressed upon me the importance.  It certainly was important for me

Ask God to show you a few men in your church or other areas of your life that you could invite to breakfast, lunch, dinner, or over a drink or coffee.  Begin a relationship where you can pour your life into them.  Paul spoke of this when he wrote his first letter to the Thessalonians;

We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.  (1 Thess. 2:8 CSB)

We may not reach every man in our church to personally influence them but we can reach a few.  Prayerfully through this example, God will encourage other men to develop their own BLA ministries – just like my mentor encourage me.

Hope to hear great things about your BLA ministry.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

Effective Men Leaders Read the Bible Regularly

Reading BibleRecently I was talking to my class that I teach on Sunday mornings on the importance to read their Bibles regularly.  And by regularly, I mean daily.  The Bible is a manual.  It is our training guide.  It is God instructing us how to live and deal with situations that may occur in our lives.  As leaders, we need to be in the Word almost constantly.  How can we lead others if we do not know the Word and allow God to speak to us through His Word?

We hear of military personal training constantly as they prepare for deployments and other actions they may take while serving in the military.  Why do they do that?  So when they get into the heat of the battle, their actions will be second nature to them.  They will respond as necessary by instinct – they will know how to act and respond without thinking.

I worked in the nuclear energy world for many years.  Our operators trained regularly; in fact, it is part of their shift rotation to spend a week in training.  Why?  So they can be prepared for any emergency that may occur at the facility.  From a leaking pipe to a core meltdown.  They will know what needs to be down to protect the plant and the people as necessary during an emergency.  They will act from pure instinct.  As if they had already been there and done that.

There are other professionals that do the same such as firefighters, EMTs, and law enforcement personnel.  If these professionals believe it is imperative for them to constantly trained in case of an emergency so they can respond in a manner that is second nature; why should we think that all we need to do as a Follower of Christ is just go to church, maybe attend a Sunday School class, or a weekly bible study and not read, to bury our nose in the Bible daily.

Reading the Bible and applying the teaching of God’s Word into our lives is the training for Christ Followers so they will know when the enemy attacks how to respond.  There is a battle that is raging around us every day.  It is the Battle for our Souls.  Obviously, if you are a child of God the victory has been won and you are fighting from victory.  But if you do not know how to respond to situations that may be thrown at you from time-to-time then you will live a life of oppression.   That is not how God wants us to live.

As men leaders, get into the Word.  Stay in the Word.  Reading other books is okay and we can learn from them if they are aligned with the Word of God; but, the majority of your reading should be in the Bible.  If it is not, START!  Encourage your men to read.  The three things I encourage the men in my discipling groups to do is 1) Read, 2) Read, and 3) Read.  And let the Bible be the book you read the most often.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers. – Psalm 1:1-3

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men.

Mike

How often Do You Read Your Bible?

Reading BibleAs a child of God you should be reading your bible regularly.  How often do you?  Our days are so busy with  work, raising a family, volunteer activities, and a host of other activities, we just don’t seem to have the time to read anymore.  But I want to encourage you to find the time.  Maybe you need to get up a little earlier in the morning or stay up a few minutes longer in the evening.  Maybe turn that time-robber off we call the TV.  It is amazing how many hours the TV robs us of quality time.  Maybe while you are eating lunch or taking a break from a day’s activity.  If we think and examine our lives we can find the time.

The bible tells us in Psalm 119:105; that God’s word “is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  Two interesting images here; life is a path and God’s Word is the light that helps us follow that path.

We are told we live in an enlightened age; but, we live in a dark world and only God’s light can guide us.  Obedience to the Word keeps us walking in the light.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

– 1  John 1:5-10

Let me encourage you to read five chapters a day.  If you read five chapters six days a week you will read the complete Bible in about 9-10 months.  Depending on how fast a reader you are you can read five chapters in the time it takes you to watch your favorite half-hour sitcom.

So start reading.  Let the words come alive to you.  Jumping off the page as you store up God’s Word in your heart (Psalm 119:11).

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men – Mike.

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

Can A Church Really Not Have a Men’s Ministry?

This week I heard from a pastor who stated his church doesn’t have a men’s ministry.  As I thought about the statement I began to wonder, ‘Can a church really not have a ministry to men?’  Or is it they don’t have a formal ministry?  And if they don’t have a formal ministry, what are they telling the men that walks onto the campus of the church?

I have heard another pastor state we don’t need a formal organized men’s ministry, we just need to disciple our men.  Okay… I believe I understand what this pastor was saying is that he doesn’t want a ministry built around events.  I get that.  Ministries to men should not be built around events.  But how does your men know they are a priority and important in your church?  There are many ways you can do this even with the current activities you have going on without creating new ones.  But I will have to save that discussion for later.

The priority of the church is to make disciples.  Jesus made that clear in Matthew 28:19-20.  Therefore, this is the priority of any men’s ministry – to make disciples.  Not to have events, though events does have its place in the ministry.

Events create entry points for men to connect with other men.  Could be with men of similar interests or just men getting together.  The key is connecting and developing relations with other men (though we men typically don’t use this terminology about becoming friends with other men).  As men become friends with each other then we can encourage men to move into discipling relationships.  Rather it is in a Sunday School class, Life Groups, Home Study Groups, or a small men’s groups.

So what happens when a church does not have a ‘formal men’s ministry’ or they say they don’t have a men’s ministry at all?  Does this tell the men of the church they are not a priority?  Is this why many men develop an attitude that church is for the women and children?   Are we sending a message that it is okay to be influenced by the world?  Will the men feel it unnecessary to attend a gathering of the saints?  No one could probably say for sure; but, one thing though is for sure, if the men do not think they are important, then you will have a hard time reaching them.

Every man that walks onto the campus of a church should feel as though a priority is placed on the men.  We have heard the statistics of how important it is to reach the men.

  • If a child is the first in a household to come to Christ, there is a 3.5% probability everyone else in the household will.
  • If the mother is the first to come to Christ, there is a 17% probability everyone else will follow.
  • If the Man, Dad, Husband is first, there is a 93% probability everyone else will follow.

Henry Ford is quoted as saying;

“Your system is perfectly design to produce the results you are getting.”

To put this in churchy speak; a church’s ministry to men, regardless of the type, will produce the type of men attending the church or not attending church.

You do have one, rather it is recognized as one or not; organized or not.  You are telling your men something.  How do you want the men who walks on the campus of your church to feel?   Think about this the next time you think about the men’s ministry of your church.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men. – Mike

Do Not Let Your Seminareist Get in the Way of Your Ministry to Men!

I know that Seminareist is not a formal word.  But the title is a statement a mentor once told me when I started in men’s ministry.  He reminded me that those of us who have a deep intentional intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, often forgets that most men do not have this relationship.  Decades, even centuries of men not being in a discipling relationship has resulted in men not knowing what this means.

As I have travel and met with men of various churches throughout my region and state, I do find that some churches are getting on board with developing a vibrate discipling ministry for their men.  However, there are still way too many that are not.  In the area of North Carolina that I live, I don’t have to use all the fingers on my hand to count the number of churches I have visited that has an active discipling ministry outside of the Sunday School.

men-gathering-1I recently asked a group of men who are active in their respective churches, “How do you know your church cares about or shows they have a priority toward the men?”  Not one  of them stated it was because they were involved in a discipling relationship, even though each of them were.  Their answer was centered around events for men.  A couple of men even said it is a shame our church does not have a men’s ministry, even though the church has a vibrate discipling ministry that involve many men.  Another said I have to go to another church to attend men gatherings because my church does not have a men’s ministry even though his church also has an active discipling ministry.

Men do not associate discipling groups with men’s ministry even though that should be a part of the ministry – an important part.  Men need entry points to connect with other men.  Men need entry points to develop those relationship that will move them into discipling relationships.  To get them at least involved in a Sunday School or a home study group.

It breaks my heart when I hear churches state they don’t need a formal ministry to men.  This tells me that men are not a priority.  They will argue with me this is not true.  Then I ask what are you doing to convince men they are a priority?  And all they can say is that we have a dicipling ministry.

img_20131108_184345_297If you never have events design specifically for men, if you don’t have a place for men to gather, if you don’t speak directly to your men regularly, what convinces them they are a priority?  We often talk about how men are visual.  If they cannot see a men’s ministry what makes one think there is one and that men are important to the church.

Let me challenge the pastors and men’s leaders out there, or any man who may be reading this.  Ask the men of your church, “What do we do as a church that makes you think men are a priority here?”  Then record your answers in the comments for this post.  Maybe it will change my perception of what I have been seeing and hearing.  Or maybe it will validate it.  Either way I would like to here throughout the state, nation, and world what makes men think they are a priority for their respective churches.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple every man – Mike