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.

Why Men Need to be in Discipling Groups – Part 7

One man in 10 will have a biblical worldview

Remember we are talking about men in the church.  So why is it that only one man in ten who attends church will have a biblical worldview?  Don’t they hear the gospel message and the truth of God’s Word preached every Sunday?  Don’t they associate with others who attend church in social gatherings?  Don’t they volunteer for ministry opportunities orchestrated by the church?  Then why is it that so many men do not have a biblical worldview?

I will surmise that it is because these men are probably living a life as ‘Cultural’ Christians.  They either have a ‘counterfeit faith’ or a ‘defeated faith’ as Jesus described in the Parable of the Sower in Luke 8.

It is correct to believe that once saved a person is always saved.  Christ affirms this by saying, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” John 10:27-28.

We in the church, though, failed when we have perpetuated the attitude of cultural Christianity by telling people all they need to do to be saved is “pray a prayer.”  And when you talk to people in the church it seems everyone has “prayed a prayer.”  But most people in the church do not live any differently than people who are not in the church.  We need to understand that prayer doesn’t save; faith saves.  Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Now Jesus in His Parable of the Sower was using a person sowing seeds to explain the different types of people who hear the Word of God.  In Luke 8:13 Jesus said, “And the ones (speaking of the seeds of the sower) on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy.  But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.”  These people are experiencing Counterfeit Faith.

In reality they are not Christians, their faith is not a genuine faith in Christ.  Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).  “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

These are most likely individuals who the church has helped in time of need and the people helped felt good.  They stuck around the church for a while until the call of the world began to pull them back into their previous lifestyle.  Or, the ones I have the most concern for, is the individual, such as myself, who grew up in church and know no other life.  They are convinced that because they have been in church all their life and have not done anything against the church’s teaching they are a Christian and will be going to heaven.  Both of these are people who have never surrender to Christ having placed their faith in Him.  Jesus will look upon these with Counterfeit Faith and said, “I never knew you; depart from me” (Matthew 7:23).

Then there are those who Jesus described in verse 14 of Luke 8, And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.”  These are Christians who have experienced saving faith but are living a defeated life.  They have fruit but the call of the world is preventing their fruit to grow.

A Christian who is living a defeated life shows little difference in their lifestyle from the lifestyle of a person who makes no claim to be in Christ.  In fact, some may wonder if they are even truly
a Christian.  They never understood, perhaps because they have never been told (discipled), the difference between what it means to be a cultural Christian versus a biblical Christian.  There is little difference in the way these Christians spend their money or time from the way non-Christians spend their money or time.  For a group of people whose primary commission is to be salt and light to a broken world, these Christians does little to present a viable alternative to an empty lifestyle.

Dale Forehand, in his book Often Told – Rarely Trained makes this statement about himself, “Men have been often told but rarely trained.  I know this to be true because it was true for my life, even though I had been raised in church, heard countless sermons, sat through thousands of SunDiscipleship Groupday school lessons, and served on countless committees, not once did I ever feel adequate or qualified.  I felt untrained to be the spiritual leader of my home, in my friendships, at my workplace, and my wife and children.”  How many of us could said the same about ourselves?

Many have never been taught how to have a meaningful devotion time to internalize the Word of God.  Men often get together to do manly things like; hunt, play or watch sports, fish, even eat.  But rarely are men encouraged or taught the necessity for men to gather together for the purpose of being discipled.

Though people may attend church services and listen to messages, this is not sufficient to be trained in biblical principles and have an understanding of a biblical worldview.  People need to be in small groups and discipling relationships.  We need to be pouring into each other’s lives.    If you are not, I want to encourage you to be in one.  Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves.”  Paul and his team were ready to pour their own lives into others for the purpose of helping others to grow in maturity with the Lord.

Lamentations 3:40 tells us, “Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord.”  Examine yourselves and determine if you have a counterfeit faith or a defeated faith.  If it is a counterfeit faith surrender yourself to God, repent and ask for forgiveness and God will forgive you.  Then tell someone and get yourself into a discipleship group so you can be discipled.

If it is a defeated faith, you too need to completely surrender yourself to God, ask God for forgiveness of the lifestyle you have lived.  Tell someone and get yourself into a discipleship group to help you live the life Christ expects us to live.  To be the salt and light to a lost and dying world.  To strive to be “imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1).  God loves you with an everlasting love and wants to be reconcile with you.

Men need to be discipled to help build a healthy biblical world view.

Why Men Need to be in Discipling Groups – Part 6

Four men in ten will get divorced

This is really no different than men who are not in church.  Why?

DivorceThese days many men are not discipled as young men to understand about marriage and what the Bible says about loving our wives.  I know I wasn’t.  All I knew was that I was to grow up, get married, and have children.  To be honest, I didn’t even really know what love was in a marriage.  As I became older and grew spiritually, I began to realize that most people have confused infatuation with love.  And when we marry because of misunderstanding infatuation for marital love… well, to use an old cliché, ‘when the newest wears off, the marriage begins to crumble.’

For me, no one – and I do mean no one – taught me how to be a husband and the spiritual leader of my home.  Including the pastor who performed pre-marriage counseling with my wife and I before we were married.  A fine man and I thought a lot of him; but, his pre-marriage counseling was basically, “She has a personality, you have a personality, they are different and you are going to have to learn how to live in the same house with different needs and wants.”  Sorry Mr. Counselor, but there is much more to this – much more!

Prior to my marriage and for many years’ no one taught me about being the spiritual leader of my home and the responsibility that goes with it.  I had fine examples as through my parents that marriage is for life; but, no one taught me how to be the Prophet, Priest, and Protector of my home.

It wasn’t until my wife and I attended a Fall Festival of Marriage at Ridgecrest, NC that I began to understand my role as a husband.  Still it took years for me to come to an understanding.  And after 40 years of marriage I am still learning.

Men let me ask you some questions if I may about your wife.  If I was to ask you these questions would you be able to answer them;

  • What color is her eyes?
  • What is her favorite color?
  • What is her favorite flower?
  • What does she like to do to relax?
  • What does she need from you the most?

Brown – Yellow – Daisy – Read – To feel valued, that she is significant.  That is the answers for my wife.  How do I know?  By asking.  Observing.  Communicating.  One of the problems in marriages today is the lack of communication – or if there is communication it is the wrong type.

Men, we need to be discipling our sons on how to be a spiritual leader in the home.  We need to be teaching them to reject passivity, to accept responsibility, and to lead courageously in the biblical standards of a husband.Husband Praying  Ephesians 5:25 tells husbands, Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  Husbands are not commanded to submit to his wife but instead tells the husband that he must give himself up for her.  Husbands are to love their wives in a self-sacrificial manner, following the example of Christ, who gave himself up for the church in a loving self-sacrifice.  This is a biblical picture of a husband laying down his life for his wife which is directly opposite to what the world teaches.  This goes beyond submission.  The husband is bound by love to ensure that his wife finds their marriage a source of rich fulfillment and joyful service to the Lord.

1 Peter 3:7 tells us, “Husbands, 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.”  Interesting information for us men there are the end of this scripture.  If you do not want your prayers to be hindered, you better live with her in an understanding way and show her honor.  Living in an understanding way focuses on living in according to God’s will, which includes understanding the needs of your wife.

Men, here is another interesting fact.  Did you know the Bible does not tell our wives she is to love her husband?  Only the husband is commanded to love his wife.  Why?  Because God made woman to naturally love those who live with them in an understanding way, to show them honor, and demonstrate love to them by loving them as Christ love the church.  WOW!  So if you want your wife to love you – start loving her as Christ loved the church and sacrificially gave his life for the needs of the church – in your case though, the needs of your wife.

I wonder how many divorces could have been prevented if as young boys, men had been mentored and disciple to understand what the Bible says about loving our wives?  I will surmise that many marriages would have been a lot different.  But it is never too late to start.  If we are honest with ourselves and examine why we got married in the first place, we would probably discover we went into marriage for selfish reasons – what will I get out of it instead of what can I give.

You can repent of this if you need to by asking God for forgiveness and asking Him to teach you how to love your wife as Christ love the church.  Then you need to ask for your wife’s forgiveness.  Your next step is to get yourself into a relationship with another man who can disciple and mentor you to be the man – husband – God wants you to be.

We need to be teaching our sons how to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.  How to live in an understanding way with their wives.  This is a subject that I could write much more on and probably will in future posts.  But right now, I want us to understand the need for men to be discipling or mentoring young men and each other on what it means to be a Biblical husband and a spiritual leader in their home.

Remember Men, love your wife as Christ love the church and gave himself for it and live with her in an understanding way.

Why Men Need to be in Discipling Groups – Part 5

Five in 10 men will have a major problem with pornography.

This is one of the biggest problems in American churches today.  Never in the history of the church in America has there been such a secret sin.  Charles Swindoll calls it “the no. 1 secret problem in the church.”  Recently I heard a Clinical Psychologists state that three-quarters of the men he councils regarding porn addiction can accurately and effectively explain the plan of salvation.  Men who consider themselves Biblical Christians has allowed themselves to get captured in this addiction.  It is very possible you know someone who is and possibly someone you would never suspect.

With the on-set of the internet age pornography can be easily access in the privacy of the home: never having to venture into the local strip clubs or porn theaters or even into the local convenience store to purchase magazines.  Without realizing it we regularly give our sons and daughters their own personal pornographic magazine wrapped up in what we call a Smartphone.

However, we treat men with this problem like the plague.  It’s easier for a man to admit he is having an affair, going through a divorce, being a drug addict, or being an alcoholic than admitting he has a problem with pornography.  Men with this problem need to feel they can freely talk about this issue and seek help within their men groups.

God knew from the very beginning inappropriate sex would be a problem with us.  When He gave Moses the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 God told us “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex 20:14).  Jesus took this even further when He said in Matthew 5:28, But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

So men, even when we look at another woman with lustful thoughts we have committed adultery.  Jesus said that “Out of the heart comes evil thoughts … adultery, sexual immorality…. These are what defile a person” (Matt 15:19-20).  But there is hope.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it”. There is always an escape.  All we have to do is look for it when we feel the temptation of having lustful thoughts or to view pornography.  This could be calling friend, picking up the Bible and read, praying, or just being busy with activities.  Idleness is the biggest cause for us to fall into sin.

Paul and his fellow missionaries set an example of diligence for the church.  “You yourselves know how you ought to follow our example.  We were not idle when we were with you. . . . On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you” (2 Thessalonians 3:7-8).  Idleness was not a part of Paul’s lifestyle, and we can’t afford to countenance it in our lives, either.

Yes, “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.”  The Lord knew that He needed to be about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49), and so should we.  Jesus told us to pray for “workers” to be sent into the harvest field, not idlers (Luke 10:2).  There is work to be done for the Kingdom, and we must not be distracted by the things of the world.  Though Paul was speaking of people not working when he wrote (2 Thessalonians 3:7-8), this it is also true from the viewpoint that if we are idle it is a time that Satan will entice us into sin.  So a great escape from the temptation of lust – the desire to view pornography – is to be busy, hopefully in the Lord’s work.

There are also several accountability programs available for men.  You can google porn accountability and get a list of these programs such as Covenant Eyes, Safe Eyes, and X3Watch.

But, once again men need to be discipled in living an abundant life in Christ.

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.