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.

Men Need Other Men

This scene from the movie Facing the Giants, to me, is one of the most inspirational scenes I have seen.  No matter how many times I have seen this it always stirs my heart.

After Brock basically wrote off any chance of winning their next game in front of the whole team, Coach gave Brock a challenge to do the death crawl further then normal.

At first Brock seemed to be just appeasing the coach.  Saying “I can go to the 50 without anyone on my back.”  Coach said, “I think you can do it with Jeremy on your back.”  Asking Brock if he would give his very best, Brock at first said “Yeh.”  But the Coach continue to ask if he would give his very best and finally Brock said “Yes, I will give you my very best.”

Before the coach let Brock start his crawl he blinded folded him.  Coach said he didn’t want him to give up when he reached a certain point.  By blindfolding Brock, it caused him to listen to the coach and not allow sight to dictate when he would quit.  Men this is what we need to do.  We need be blindfolded to what is happening around us that will keep us from keeping our eyes on Christ.  For once our eyes are off of Christ, we will revert back to a man living a defeated life.

Throughout the whole crawl the coach was right there supporting Brock and encouraging him.  Letting him know when he was getting off track and needed to go a little more to the left.  As Brock went further and further he stated complaining that it hurt and it was tough.

“Coach, it hard.  It hurts,” Brock said numerous times.

Now the Coach is on his knees right next to Brock continuing to encourage and saying, “I know it’s hard – I know it hurts.  But you have got to keep going.  Brock don’t give up”

When Brock was finished with the crawl he was not at the 30 yard line… 50 yard line – he was in the end-zone.

This is a prime example of why men need other men in their lives.  To push them when the going gets tough.  To encourage them when they don’t think they can continue.  To be right there beside them when they are hurting and life is hard.  To help in their time of trouble.

Do you think Brock would have made it to the end-zone if the coach had not been there encouraging him to keep going?  I don’t think so.  He would have stopped as soon as the hurting began and it was getting tough to keep going.

This is the epitome of Ecclesiastes 4:9-10; “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.”

Finally, the Coach laid down on the field right in front of Brock’s face and continued to encourage him.  Telling him, “Brock, you are the most influential person on this football team.  God has gifted you with the ability to lead.  If you walk around defeated so will everyone else.”

Men…You are the most influential person in your families lives.  God has gifted you with the ability to lead.  If you walk around defeated so will they and so will your wife and children when it comes to their spiritual lives.  You also are an influence to other men.

Will it be easy?  No.  No one said it would be easy.

As men we have a unique God gifted opportunity to affect the next generation coming behind us and to encourage the current generation.

Men you need to give you very best to God.  To help you do that, you need to allow another man into your life to encourage you – even when it hurts – keep moving – don’t quit.  Give your very best.  Yes … sometimes it may hurt so bad that it burns deep within your soul and you feel you cannot make it.  But don’t stop – don’t quit – give your very best to our Lord.

Men… you need to examine your life to see where you are.  We need to examine ourselves – often.  Plato is quoted as saying: “The life which is unexamined is not worth living.”  Even scripture tells us we need to do this.

Lamentations 3:40 tells us; Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the LORD.  Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 13:5; Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.

We need to ask ourselves; “Do we have an intimate relationship with God?  Am I spending time with him each day in scripture and meditation?  Am I praying like I should?  Are we applying the teaching of our Lord into our everyday lives?”

If you are not in the faith, Christ is your only answer.  Only he can remove the darkness, and allow in the light to begin the transformation of your life.  Others of you may need to examine where you are in your relationship with God.  There may be something you need to repent of and return to the Lord.

Just like the coach said to Brock I am going to tell you, Don’t tell me that you cannot give more to God than what you have been doing.  God has gifted you with the ability of leadership; to be discipled and to disciple others.  Men your church needs you.  Your family needs you.  Your Pastor needs you.

Allow other men into your life to encourage and walk beside you or you could become like that man in Ecclesiastes 4: 10 who didn’t have another to lift him up.

Support Our Men and Women in Blue

I am saddened by the events of the past couple of weeks as I am sure many of you are.  Because of the events I have made it a goal to go out of my way to personally thank any law enforcement officer I come across.

Praying with PoliceThese men and women put their lives on the line every day when they put on that uniform and begin their day.  Families don’t know, and it has become more real to them in the past few weeks, if the hug or kiss may be the last one they may give or receive when their love ones walk out the door.  Wives wonder if they will be left to raise a family on their own.  Children when they reach an age that they understand what dad is doing wonder if their Dad will come home.

Many of us who do not have a family member working in law enforcement do not understand the anxiety and anxious moments spouses may feel when the phone rings while their significant other is at work.  These men and women in blue and their families need our prayers and support.  I have heard stories over the past week of people paying for officer’s meals and praying with them.  This blesses my heart and encourages me to know there are people who truly care about out men and women in blue.  It encourages me to do the same if I have the opportunity.  Maybe you too can extend your wallet to cover a meal or pray with an officer.

These are not bad people.  They have chosen a noble profession.  One that puts their life on the line.  Every people group has a bad apple or two that shows up from time to time.  Even in my garden this morning I had to remove a bad tomato from the bush before it contaminated the rest of the tomatoes.  Every business has to weed out bad performers periodically.  But that doesn’t make the whole group bad.

Make it a point to place these men and women on your prayer lists and pray for them regularly.  Go out of your way to tell them how much you appreciate their service to the community.  Give them a hug or a firm handshake.  Pray with them.  I am sure they will appreciate it and I am sure you will feel blessed by doing so.

Scripture tells us that “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, onP4Pe 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).  Well our brothers and sisters in blue have fallen – not because of their actions but because of others – we need to be there to lift them up.  Don’t let them be alone and not have another to lift them up.

Show your support.  Not because you may need their help one day; but, because they deserve to be respected and honored for their service.

Do For Others as Christ Has Done For Us

John 13:15 “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”

This is a short statement made by Jesus after he had humbly took off his clothes, put on a servant’s robe and washed the feet of the disciples during Passover on the night before His death.

The interesting thing that many of us miss here is that Jesus had just humbly bowed down and washed the feet of Peter who would deny Him three times later that night and more interesting, Judas’ feet who would betray Jesus in just a few hours.  Both – because Jesus is God in the flesh – He knew beforehand what each were going to do.

Jesus provided an example to us that even if individuals are treating us poorly.  Even denying us or turning against us we should still treat them as Jesus did Peter and Judas on that fateful night.  Jesus could have easily said when He came to those two, “Sorry, you are going to deny me” and “You are going to betray me” but he didn’t.  Jesus treated them the same as he did the other 10 disciples that night.

So when people speak badly of you, curse at you, or betray your confidence, think of what Jesus did.  He still showed mercy and compassion to those who turned against Him and humbly bowed and washed their feet because of His love and desire to have fellowship with each of them. Therefore, we should take His example and do as He has done for us.

Do for others as Christ has done for us.

Are You Ready To Move

We read in Acts 9 that Peter was currently ministering in Lydda which was near Joppa.  A dear woman in Joppa had die and the disciples there, having heard that Peter was in Lydda, sent two men to him, imploring him, “Please come to us without delay.”  The scripture tells us that Peter rose and went with them (Acts 9:38-39a).

Now Joppa was several miles away which it would take Peter a few hours to get there since his mode of transportation was probably walking.  But Peter, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit left Lydda, where he was having success, and went with these two men back to Joppa.

Peter did not have any plans to go to Joppa as far as the scripture tells us, especially since Acts 9:35 tells us “And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.”  Why would anyone want to leave a successful ministry to go somewhere that you do not know what you will be walking into?

The Holy Spirit will sometimes direct us to give up something successful in order to follow God’s will to minister to others.  We need to be ready to follow God’s leading.  He will occasionally disrupt our plans for His plans to accomplish His sovereign will.  So be ready.

Sometimes when we become comfortable that is when God will direct us to change plans. When we become comfortable we seem to become less dependent on God; therefore, expect the change.  

As a solder of the cross we need to be ready to move at a moment’s notice.  Do not delay when God directs you to move.

Father’s Day: Honoring My Dad

Sunday we will be celebrating Father’s Day.  A day in which children and grandchildren will gather with their respective Dad or granddad; maybe cook a meal for him, take him out to eat, give him a present, just spend time with him, or if they cannot be with him – give him a call.  Some of us though will not be able to do that because our Dads are no longer with us – just the memories of past times.

My Dad was only with me for 14 years.  He died in the summer between my 8th and 9th grade years.  But in that short time he instilled in me what it Dad at Storemeant to be a man.  My uncles use to describe him as a man’s man.  I loved to hear them talk about his antics as a young man and his employees use to talk about his strength.  Though some of their stories may have been exaggerated for my benefit; if was obvious they had a lot of respect for my Dad.  A boxer in his younger days, he still knew how to show compassion, kindness, and gentleness.

I remember one story told about one of his employee’s house burned down and Dad purchased a trailer and set it up on one of his business properties for the employee and his family to live in until they could get back on their feet.  He told the employee all he owned was to watch out for the business and if he saw anything unusual to call the necessary authorities.  He had compassion for an uncle when he needed a place to sleep when he had too much to drink – but at the same time Dad had no tolerance for alcohol.  I think he is where I got my lack of tolerance for anything alcoholic.

He believed a man’s handshake was more binding than a written contract.  Why?  Because a handshake is giving your word it would be done and a man’s integrity was vital.  And if for whatever the reason, you could not keep your word you are to be man enough to face the individual and admit you cannot, apologize and provide a reason.  The reason could never be because you did not want to perform the task you promise or because it was going to cost you more than you anticipated.

You were expected to be in church every Sunday and you were never to work on Sunday.  His businesses were always closed on Sunday including Woody’s Boat Basin, now known as Scotts Hill Marina.  Dad would not allow anyone to put their boat in or take in out on a Sunday – and you know what – every one respected that.  It never hurt his business.

He was an avid fisherman – he loved to surf fish.  He would wake me up early and we would be on the surf before sunrise cooking breakfast on an open fire.  Some of my best times was on the surf with my dad and brother.  We would fish for hours.  Sometimes catching nothing but seaweed.  Other times the catch would be cleaned and cooked for supper that night.

I remember going out in the boat pulling a small dingy behind us to load it to the point of almost sinking with oysters.  Why?  Because he would be having an oyster roast at the house almost every Friday night for his Sunday School class.  He loved to have people over to just fellowship.

I saw how he cared and loved my mother.  His pet name for her was Booger.  I asked him one time why he called her that and he said because she is.  Never understood.  I have a picture of them snuggled up on a couch with his arm around her.  He taught me that marriage is for life and your wife is your number one priority on this planet.

Dad  Me (2)One of the most precious memories I carry with me is when I was a young child I would climb into his lap when he came home from work and he would hug me and I could feel is his afternoon shadow rubbing on my face.  Those stub-bins tickling me as he would hold me tight.  I can feel them now.  My dad loved his children.  And he loved family.  Many a Saturday night we spent on the boardwalk of Carolina Beach sitting and visiting with family while the kids rode the rides or played Putt-Putt, some of the Aunts played Bingo; but, mostly just sitting and talking about life.

Dads are special.  If I could I would give my Dad a hug today hoping to feel that afternoon shadow again and tell him though it was short, thank you for the memories, teaching what it means to be a man, a husband, and a Dad.  I Love You Dad.  I will see you when I get to heaven.

“Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice.”  Proverbs 23:25

Why Men Need to be in Discipling Groups – Part 8

And finally, all Men will struggle to balance work and family

Finally, as we looked at the statistics of men we find that all men will struggle to balance work and family.  Men want to provide and care for their families so they get a job and begin to pour their lives into their work.  To some men though,Men Working 1 work can be intoxicating as they feel the thrill of success and receive accolades from their bosses.  Or they feel the pressure as their family is under some financial pressure so they work additional hours to help pay for the unexpected expenses of the family or purchased items the family just had to have.

At home the wife wants her husband to spend more time with the family.  The children want dad to play games or make it to their ballgames or recitals or just be there.  Men are feeling the pressure to provide for their families but at the same time struggle with spending quality time with the family.

Scripture tells us that we are to work.  God placed Adam in the Garden for the purpose to care and work as we are told in Genesis 2:15, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Men working 2garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”  This was before the fall of man, which is telling us that God expected man to work.  Paul tells us that if we are not willing to work then let him not eat.  For he writes in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”  So God expects men to work.

But we are also to care for our families.  We are to train them and watch over them.  Deuteronomy 6:5-7 tells us, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”  We are expected to teach our children the Word of God and be an example to them.  We cannot do this if we are working all the time.

We are to honor and care for our wives.  1 Peter 3:7 tells us, “Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman.”  This requires us to spend time with our wives.  It is a constant struggle – how do we do this?  How do we meet the financial and emotional needs of the family without one of them suffering?

Some men have convinced themselves that working 50, 60, sometimes 80 hours a week they are providing for their families and their families will be thankful for their service.  However, when you talk with the families we find out what they really want is for Dad – husband – to be home more.

To be honest with you – I don’t have the answer for you.  Because each situation will be different and will require a different approach.  But I do know that we have to trust God to meet our needs and help us to make the right choices.  Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  Seek God for the answer.  Share with Him your frustrations.  Acknowledge your responsibilities and allow God to help you develop that balance between work and home.

I know that some jobs require us to work overtime periodically.  Mind did.  But I will say I believe we have our priorities in the wrong place if we are volunteering to work overtime all the time which robs our families of quality time with Husband and Dad.  And if you are volunteering to work overtime so you can pay the bills, maybe you need to look at your lifestyle and see if you have made purchases you really don’t need.

A man is most valuable when he is pouring his life Men with Familyinto his family – his wife and children.  If we are working all the time how can we spend quality time with our wives and children.  How can she see that you are living with her in an understanding way and showing her honor?

In the industry I worked I have watched many pour their lives into their careers thinking they were helping their families when actually they were destroying them.  They end up being one of those 4 men in 10 in divorce and wonder what went wrong.  I am sure there was more to the individual stories; but, their careers played a big part.

Men need to support each other and help each other to find that balance between work and home.  We need that one person we can call upon, pray with, and pour our heart out to on how to find that right balance.  God told Jeremiah, “Call to Me and I will answer you” (Jeremiah 33:3).  We need to call out to God and let Him show us how to find a balance between the two.

We need to be discipled on how to balance work and home.