Why Men Need to be in Discipling Relationships – Part 4

Six men will only pay the monthly minimum on their credit cards.

Money is intoxicating.  Who doesn’t like to have a wad full of money in their pockets.  It can be as addictive as easily and as completely as the iron grip of alcohol or drugs.  Its power to change us is close to that of Jesus Himself.  Money possesses the power to rule our lives.  It will lure us, like a moth, getting too close to the flame until, finally, our wings are set ablaze and we financially tumble out of control.Financial Burden

Howard Dayton, financial author and founder of Campus – a financial traini
ng ministry, has counted about 500 verses in the Bible on prayer but over 2,300 verses on how to handle money and possessions.  One would have to study the entire Scriptures to have a total grasp of what the Bible says.

For many it’s more than being unhealthy; it’s as stated above – out of control.  We have become a society of pretenders, bent on portraying an image of financial success whether or not there is any substance to it.  And there is little marginal difference between the way Christians and non-Christians handle their money in our secularized culture.

I know in my own life at one time I really didn’t give much thought to the comings and goings of money in regards to my family.  I was the spender between my wife and I and she had to unpleasant duty to try and keep me from spending foolishly.  She had the responsibility of managing our bank accounts, paying the bills and making sure I didn’t do something foolish when it came to money.  Because of my spending we had huge credit card bills and were basically paying the minimum payment on our bills.

That began to change one weekend when we attended a Fall Festival of Marriage in Ridgecrest, NC.  I began to recognized my errors.  The topic that weekend was For Love or Money.  It was during this weekend that I realized as a husband and the spiritual leader of my home it was my responsibility to manage the finances and be responsible for the financial well-being of our home.

As a result of this weekend I began to study what scripture had to say about money.  I read numerous books on the subject of money and the Christian life.  Larry Burkett at the time was well known for his teaching on Biblical understanding of how to handle money.  Though it was not something I did naturally, I learned with God’s help the responsibility of managing the financial affairs of my home.

Men it is vitally important we handle our finances biblically so it will bring honor and glory to God and bring security to our family.  I think we have all read the statistics that most marriage problems are somehow related to finances.

There are resources to help us understand how to manage our monies and if you are one who has large credit card debt, how to reduce that debt.  I would encourage you to spend time educating yourself on the responsibility to be an example to your family on how to properly manage your finances.

I know of an individual who recently was afraid they were going to lose their job through a layoff and realized that if that happen the debt they had accumulated would be hard to overcome.  It was a wakeup call for them to get their financial house in order.

Our culture has blindly led us into believing that the more you have, the better off you are.  And as a result we continue to obtain possessions until we can barely pay our bills – if at all.  We need to reverse this attitude.  We need to trust God for our provisions.  Scripture tells us that Jesus said in Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not worth much more than they?”  And Luke 12:27, it is recorded that Jesus said, “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.”   If God will provide for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, why would we not think he will not provide for us.  If we trust in Him, he will provide what we need at the time we need it.

Great verse to memorize to help you remember that God will provide for your needs is Philippians 4:19, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

We all need help in this area to properly handle money.  There are courses and great ministries out there to teach us how to biblically handle money.  Talk with your church leaders and they will be able to direct you to these courses.  Some churches even have studies periodically that helps individuals to understand the scriptures in regards to finances and being responsible stewards of what God has given us.  Take advantage of these opportunities.

We need to be discipled in the area of financial responsibility.

Why Men Need to be in Discipling Groups – Part 3

Eight of ten men will not find their jobs satisfying

A couple of weeks ago we started looking and unpacking a list of statistics the authors of the book No Man Left Behind share that men in the church struggle with.  In this post we are going to look at the statistic that eight of ten men will not find their jobs satisfying.

We constantly hear men talking about the negatives of Men Work Struggletheir jobs and never the positives.  Men many times feel as if they are in a rut when it comes to the careers.  They get up early in the morning.  Take a shower and get dress.  Grab a quick bite of breakfast, kiss the wife and kids goodbye as they rush out the door.  Deal with the pressures and stress of work.  Come home to dinner.  Maybe to a wife who had a rough day and is discourage.  Kids tugging at your pants wanting attention.  You want some down time – just a few minutes to unwind.  All of a sudden you boil over and you release some of that stressful energy on your family.  You realize what you did and you feel bad.  You go to bed and get up the next morning just to start all over again.  What a life!

I must confess there was a period of time in my recent past I was not satisfied with my career.  And just like I described above, if you listen, you will hear men regularly talk about wishing they could make a career change.  I was stressed out.  I was actually depressed and just wishing something would happen that would prevent me from going to work.  Now I wasn’t looking for something to happen to me or any of my family but some little thing that would keep me from work.  Men that is not a good place to be.  It will affect your quality of life, your relationship with your wife and children, and it will affect your spiritual walk with God.

The reason I ended up in the career I was in for over 40 years was because Carolina Power and Light was hiring the day I walked into their offices looking for a job.  I needed a job as I had just left college.  I was going to work a couple of years, save some money, and then go back to school.  Instead, I meet a beautiful girl, we got married and now I was stuck in a career to care for her and eventually two children.  I had a responsibility to work and provide for my family.  Though I would not trade my wife or children for anything; how many of you have had the same or similar situation?

I spent no time in asking God what He wanted me to do when it came to my career.  As I recognized this later in life and repented of not following Him in the career path He was preparing me for; He allow me to become satisfied in my career by moving me into a position I thoroughly enjoyed until my retirement.

Many men are dissatisfied in their careers or they have a sense of lost.  They feel as if something is missing and they can’t really put their finger on it.  I believe it is because we have missed what God has called us to do.  When God created us, he created us with certain gifts and talents.  He has a plan for our lives and we need to rely on Him to direct us and show us the plan.

Today, I encourage young men to discover the talents and skills God has given them; discover their passion (or calling as we sometimes call it) and then apply those talents, skills and passion to a career.  God has called all believers to a career.  We typically think of a “calling” as being some type of ministerial vocational career.  But we can be “called” into any career.  God can call you to be a mechanic; or a contractor; or a lawyer; or a doctor; or a teacher, or into any other profession.

According to Romans 11:29; “The calling of God are irrevocable.”  Just like when God did not reject Israel when they were disobedient God will not reject us when we have failed to follow His plan for our lives with the gifts and talents He has given us.  He does not change His calling just because we went a different direction.  His calling remains the same.

Several years ago a friend of mind gave me the book Half Time by Bob Buford.  I would recommend a reading of this book if you are dissatisfied imageswith your career.  But more importantly spend time with God examining yourself and asking God what He has called you to do.  We spend a better part of a third of our lives in our careers.  Why would God want us in careers that causes us to be dissatisfied?

Maybe you need to repent of not following His leading.  If so just humbly ask God to forgive you and he will.  He may answer your prayer by working in your life to allow you to become satisfied or He may move you to make a career change.  Whatever the case, seek God and surrender your career to Him and allow Him to direct your path.  As 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 your paths straight.”

All of us will touch many lives with the Gospel of Christ no matter what profession we are in.  Never think of your job as a menial task just to pay the bills.  Think of it as your calling to reach the lost for Christ or to encourage your brothers and sisters in the market place.  God has a purpose for your life and that purpose is to glorify God no matter where you are at this moment.

Get with a group of men and talk about God’s calling of each of your lives.  Pray and encourage each other to seek God’s guidance and direction in your careers.

Men need to be discipled to prepare them for the calling (careers) God will place on their lives.

Why Men Need to be in Discipling Groups – Part 2:

Nine of ten men will have children to leave the church.

In the last post I gave you a list of statistics the authors of the book No Man Left Behind shared that men in the church struggle with.  In this post we are going to start looking at each one of those statistics and talk about each of them and how discipling can help us overcome from being one of the statistics or at least mitigate the affect.

We are going to look at the statistic that nine men out of 10 will have children who will leave the church.  Now this probably doesn’t surprise us too much as we all know families whose children are no longer in church.  But I talk with men regularly that are concern with the fact they have at least one child who are no longer attending a church after being brought up in the church environment.  Though I have never really asked them; I wonder how many of those Dads actually disciple their children.

Now what do I mean by discipling their children?  When I say disciple I mean Dads who read the Bible with their children, pray with their children, talk about Biblical topics, encourage their children to memorize and meditate on scripture.  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.  These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up.”

Now let me tell you – for full disclosure – I am one of those Dads who did not obey this teaching but has been blessed that my children have remained in church and are truly followers of Christ.  Why did I not disciple my children?  Because no one taught me that it was my responsibility and not the churches.  For many years in my life I did not have a man who poured his life into me teaching me how to be the spiritual leader my children needed.  Now do I think I was a bad Dad?  Of course not!  (At least that is what my kids tells me.)  But I should have been more involved in their spiritual development as they were growing up.  More than just taking them to church and getting them involved in church activities.

So if you are already feeling like a less than adequate Dad because you did not or have not discipled your children, you are not alone – unfortunately there are many Dads just like myself who have failed to invest in their children’s spiritual development.

However, if we change our behavior and begin discipling our children at a young age this trend of children turning their backs on God can be reversed.  Will it completely eliminate children walking away from God – no – but it will curtail a number of them.  I know of Dads who did pour their lives in their children and still some of their children turned their backs on God.  Some of them returned later if life.  Some have yet to do so.  Some never did.  But I also know many Dads who did and their children are now very active in the life of the church and many are leaders in the church.

Robert Lewis wrote a book several years ago called Raising a Modern Day KniRaising a Modern Day Nightght.  A great book for dads and granddads to read as their sons are growing up.  Gives some great ideas on having manhood celebrations at various stages of the son’s life.  One as early as eight years old.  I would encourage you to get a copy of this book and read it.  I gave a copy to my son-in-law even before his two boys were born for him to read.  Makes a great gift to new dads.

So let me encourage you.  If you have children still in the home it is never too late to begin discipling them.  The older they are the harder it may be to start – but start.  The next generation is counting on us.  There are many resources out there to help us Dads disciple our children.  Check out ministries such as All Pro Dad, Heart of the Father Ministries, and Better Dads to name a few.

Start today – we need to be discipling our children.  Our families are counting on it.  As the saying goes – “As the father goes, so goes the family, and so goes the nation.”

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6

Why Men Need to be in Discipleship Groups

When my family takes a vacation on the beach I like to sit on the porch overlooking the ocean.  Though I grew up on the water spending many hours with my dad in the waterways IMG_1389and creeks adjacent to the ocean in southeast North Carolina, I am always amazed to look out over the ocean waters at its vastness.  As I think about the enormity of the oceans, it causes me to think about the God who created the oceans and how great and awesome He is.

Sometimes we hear of men who are lost at sea and are found many days, weeks, and occasionally months later.  They are generally found physically tired, hungry and thirsty for some warm food and fresh cool water; they look disheveled and weak.  But after a day or two of rest, good food and water these individuals look refresh.  It is amazing how the right nourishment and fellowship with others will lift your spirits and encourage you.

You know many men who have never been lost in the vastness of the ocean are experiencing the same in their everyday life.  They struggle with daily situations and often do not know where to turn.  They feel as if they are the only ones who are struggling.  They rarely desire to let anyone know they are struggling because to us men, it is a sign of weakness.  It is as if we are lost at sea.  This is why men need to be in discipleship groups.  When one is in a discipling group you can receive that right type of nourishment and encouragement that can steer you in the right direction.

In the book No Man Left Behind, the authors list some startling statistics about men who are in the church.  When you first read these statistics you think they are reflecting on men in general but it is a sobering reality this is the condition of many of our men in the church.  You could be one of them.  I know that when I first read these statistics it was hard for me to admit but a few of these were struggles I was facing myself.  In the book the authors write;

“You’d think the church would be a safe haven from many of these disturbing statistics.  Surely kids who grow up going to church will have a foundation of faith that carries into adulthood.  If a couple goes to church together, you would think that their marriage will be much more likely to succeed.

“Unfortunately, neither of these assumptions is true.  In fact, men in the church face the same challenges and frustrations as men outside of the church.  For example, for every ten men in the church:

  • Nine will have children who leave the church.
  • Eight will not find their jobs satisfying.
  • Six will pay the monthly minimum on their credit card bills.
  • Five will have a major problem with pornography.
  • Four will get divorced—affecting one million children each year.
  • Only one will have a biblical worldview.
  • All ten will struggle to balance work and family.

Man Struggle“Ask pastors to list the problems and struggles their members face.  They sound like the chapter headings in a social work textbook: alcohol and substance abuse, domestic violence, juvenile crime, depression, shattered relationships, to name just a few.  What is happening?  If most of the major societal problems we face can be traced back to the failure of men, why aren’t men in the church doing any better than men outside of the church?  The answer?  We are not discipling men to be followers of Jesus Christ.  Our churches are not effectively helping men understand what it takes to be a godly husband, a godly father, and a godly man.”

Over the next several weeks we will discuss each one of these statistics in more detail.  You may see yourself and realize that you are not the only one with this struggle.  Hopefully, through God’s wisdom, the importance of discipling groups will become a reality for you.  Let me know what you think and let’s see if we can get a dialogue going about discipleship.

Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. – 1 Thessalonians 2:8

Dying to Self for Your Wife

This past week my wife and I spent a day in Washington, DC.  Part of our morning we spent at Arlington National Cemetery wArlingtonhere over 400,000 men and women are honored on these hallowed grounds for giving their all for their country.  There is a saying in the military that “All gave some while some gave all.”  Scripture tells us there is no greater love than a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).  These men and women laid down their lives for the freedom we enjoy today in this great country we live in. The men that are laid to rest here we can consider real men.  It takes great courage to go into a hostile environment not knowing if you will return home.  Some of these men even made a choice to purposely give their lives to save others in their unit.  I know of one young man who is resting at Arlington that threw himself on an IED to protect others who were with him.  Recognizing what was happening and they did not have time to escape he made the quit decision and sacrificed his life for the sake of others.  This is great courage.

We may never be asked to make the sacrifice these men made but as men we still need to lead our families with courage.  We are in a spiritual battle every day.  As hostile as any battle can be.  Though we may not see the death and destruction we typically think about, these spiritual battles will cause destruction is we do not properly prepare for them – they will come in the form of rebellion from God, trouble marriages, fatherless children (both inside and outside the home), financial and career difficulties, and we could go on listing many others.  Some may even come to your mind as you read that you may be experiencing today.

One of the first battles we need to recognize is the battle that rages within ourselves to be the husband we need to be to our wife.  Ephesians 5:25 tells us who are husbands or are contemplating becoming a husband one day is to “Love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”  Marriage is a holy union, a living symbol, and a precious relationship that needs tender self-sacrificing care.  Men, this is telling me that I need to die to myself.  I need to die to the desires and needs of my life and place my wife’s needs and desires above mine.

Look at the verse again, it says to “Love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”  “Gave Himself up for her!”  How did He do this?  By dying on the cross for our salvation.  He made the ultimate sacrifice for the benefit of the church – His bride.  Now we may never be asked to give our actual lives for the benefit of our wives but we can surely give up our wants and desires for her.  Hard you say?  You bet it’s hard.  This is one reason why men need to build relationships with other men to encourage and pray with them through these times.  But the reward and the blessings that one will receive when one dies to self will displace the hardship that one may feel when they realize the blessings God is granting them by blessing the marriage union and their own personal lives.

For we are also told in 1 Peter 3:7; You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”

When Peter says that women may be “weaker” than men, he was not implying moral or intellectual inferiority, but was recognizing women’s physical limitations.  Women in his day, if unprotected by men, were vulnerable to attack and abuse.  Women’s lives may be easier today, but women are still vulnerable to criminal attack and family abuse. And in spite of increased opportunities in the workplace, the vast majority of the nations’ poor are single mothers and their children.  A man who honors his wife as a member of the weaker sex will protect, respect, help, and stay with her.  He will not expect her to work full-time outside the home and full-time at home; he will lighten her load wherever he can.  He will be sensitive to her needs, and he will relate to her with courtesy, consideration, insight, and tact.

To me the most interesting information in 1 Peter 3:7 is that if a man is not considerate and respectful of his wife, his prayers will not be heard, because a living relationship with God depends on right relationships with others.  Jesus said that if you have a problem with a fellow believer, you must make it right with that person before coming to worship (Matthew 5:23-24).  This principle carries over into family relationships – husband and wife relationships.  If men use their position to mistreat their wives, their prayers will be hindered.

And finally men, how we treat our wives will carry over to how our sons treat their wives and how our daughters will think wives are treated.  We have a great responsibility.  Men who demean their wives in front of their children are teaching their children it is okay to treat others with disrespect and to dishonor them.  You are saying it is okay when things are not going your way to degrade others and look for a change (divorce).  Our actions will be setting the tone for the next generation to follow.

Men I beg of you to not go down this road; but instead, meditate on these verses and allow God to revel to you where you stand with respect to loving your wife as Christ loves the church and in living with her in an understanding way.  Examine your life and return to the Lord if need be asking for forgiveness from your wife and then God if you have not applied these scriptural teachings in your life.

I pray that if you have not been attentive to this teaching in scripture that you will seek forgiveness from your wife and God.  And that you find a group of men who can pour into your life the true meaning of scripture in how you can become the husband God intends for all of us to become.

Being a husband is a great responsibility that a man must never take for granted.

The Authentic Man

Introduction

This will be a blog that will look at what it means to be a real man.  How do real men act?  How do they talk?  How do they treat others, especially their wives or girlfriends?  We will look at the character of men, how that character can and will affect others, the struggles men face, and what can we do about it.  The blog will also look at men’s events, books, and bible studies for men to attend.  The blog is still under construction so please forgive any amateurish looks.  This is my first blog so I will be learning as I go.

The world has a notion of what a real man is suppose to be. We see it displayed on TV and in the movies.  We are taught from an early age that men don’t show any emotional feelings.  We are to be strong.  Now I am not saying that strength shouldn’t be a part of man; but, the strength we need to display is in our character and attitude.  A physical and emotionally strong man can also be a weak man.  I have seen many men who are in their 40’s and 50’s and still act as an adolescent high schooler: essentially a boy in a man’s body.

Oftentimes men struggle with relationships and we wonder why?  Sometimes we don’t need to look any further than our own selves to discover why.  Most of us grew up without anyone teaching us what the Bible tells us what it really means to be a man.  Mainly because the art of Dads teaching their sons – mentoring their sons – was lost during the Industrial Revolution.  Most sons have grown up – including myself – learning how to be a man from their friends in school or the TV or movies.  Very few of us had another man who actually poured their lives into us.

Recently I was talking to someone who pointed out an interesting relationships between young bull elephants and the lack of mature bull elephants.  It seemed that when the mature elephants were removed from the young elephants the young elephants began acting as maundering gangs.  However, when the mature bull elephants were reintroduced to the young bull elephants the character of the young elephants changed.  You can read the story by clicking here.  The actions that was experienced was no different than many of our young boys growing up in fatherless homes.

The basis we will use to determine what it means for men to be real is the Bible.  I have discovered many truths in God’s Word that has helped me in my walk as a man.  Drawing closer to God and having a personnel relationship with him has help me realized my need for someone to show me and teach me how to be a real man.

The Bible tells us in Lamentations 3:40, “Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the LORD.”  We must not complain about events or situations that have occurred in our lives but learn from it, trusting God and being willing to change.  We must allow God to bring about the kind of behavior in our life that pleases him and in turn will help us to have better relationships – better marriages.

A mentor of mine many years ago shared with me 1 Thessalonians 2:8, “Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.”  Though I may not know you personally, I know that many of us have the same struggles – the situations though may be different.

Through this blog I will be an open book and share some of my own experiences; maybe you will see that you are not the only one feeling certain ways or struggling in certain areas.  And maybe by me imparting to you my own life you can examine your life and develop a deeper relationship with God; which in turn will enrich and help your relationship with others.

My goals is to post something at least every couple of weeks or more often.  I hope you will choose to follow this blog and encourage others to follow also.

May God bless you as we together walk through this adventure and the challenge of being an Authentic Man.