Two Are Better Than One: Walking Together

Two are better than oneFor the past few posts we have been looking at Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12.

9Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.  10For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up…. 12And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him.  A cord of three strands is not easily broken. (CSB)

In the first post regarding this scripture I shared with you this is a good description for men to apply Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (ESV), into their lives to encouragement men as they develop an intentional relationship with God.

In the previous post we looked at verse 9 encouraging men to work together.  In this post we will look at verse 10 encouraging men to walk together.

In the last decade one of the things I enjoy doing, is to pour my life into other men.  1 Thessalonians 2:8 shows the example of this as Paul and his companions spoke of their passion towards the people of Thessalonica;

8We 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.

Ten years ago, while I was going through some health trails of my own I was invited to join a small group of men on Saturday morning from my church.  I discovered this group of men were men who not only loved the Lord but had a strong desire to pour their lives into other men.

  • Men who encourage other men as they are going through their own struggles of life.
  • Men who share their own battles and how they walk through those struggles.
  • Men who taught God’s word.
  • Men who encourage scripture memorization.
  • Men who would hold me accountable. Ask me some hard questions about integrity, bible reading, my devotion time.
  • Men who would pray with me and be available whenever necessary.

This had a dramatic effect on my life.  This drew me closure in my walk with God, more than anything else I had ever done in the church.  It helped me to develop an intimate and intentional relationship with God.  More so than I had ever known.  And because of that time in my life, God gave me a passion – a burden – to minister to men.

Today I meet with men regularly.  As an example, I meet with one group of men once a week early in the morning at a local McDonald’s restaurant before they head off to work.  We talk about their past week; their rewards and their struggles.  I ask them what they are reading, in the bible and in general.  I ask them about their devotion time.  We study God’s word.  We pray.  This is Walking Together as men deal with the issues of life and the culture of the world we live in.  Encouraging men by letting them know they are not alone and there is someone there that can help pull them out of the pit if they fall.

We men have a knack of trying to do life on our own.  But when you look at scriptures you see that is not how Jesus showed us.  Jesus pulled 12 men close to him to teach and encourage.  He pulled three of those men – Peter, James, and John – even closure to pour His life into those men.

Jesus modeled what it really means to disciple – to mentor.  To go after the real issues that affect an individual’s relationship with God and others.  And the only way you can do that is to develop an intentional relationship with others.

Jesus taught his followers to make disciples, not converts.  The way a believer moves from one to the other is through the intentional discipleship of their character, knowledge, vision, and skills.  While evangelism brings people to Christ, discipleship brings people to “full growth in Christ” so they can be “equipped for every good work” (Eph 4:15, 2 Tim 3:17).

When Jesus pulled those 12 men into his circle He knew what we all know: men are like icebergs – we only see the tip; but, there’s a much deeper spiritual drama unfolding below the waterline.

Men in the church today face the same challenges and frustrations as men outside of the church.  That should not be.  For example, in the book ‘No Man Left Behind’ it states that for every ten men in the church;

  • Nine will have children who leave the church.
  • Eight will find their jobs dissatisfying.
  • 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 world-view.
  • And, all ten will struggle to balance work and family.

Men, we need each other.  As I talk with men, without exception, every one of them will tell me they struggle the most when they are alone.  Every one of us need a man who can walk alongside of us.  This is what discipleship is all about.

When we talk to men we find that though they may not be showing it on the outside, we find that many men are hurting.  Something is holding them back from feeling fully alive.  They inevitably mention one or more of seven inner aches and pains that most men feel when they are trying to do this journey on their own:

  • I just feel like I’m in this alone.
  • I don’t feel like God cares about me personally – not really.
  • I don’t feel like my life has a purpose – it feels random.
  • I have these destructive behaviors that keep dragging me down.
  • My soul feels dry.
  • My most important relationship is not healthy.
  • I don’t feel like I’m doing anything that will make a difference and leave the world in a better place.

So, what do we do about it.  What do we do to help these men and how will it impact the church?

We will discuss that next time as we look at verse 12 of Ecclesiastes 4.  It will be the third action that we need to apply in our lives as we encourage men in their walk with Christ – the action of watchcare.

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


Ministering to Men is More Than Having Events.

If you are having events for your men just to be having events – Stop It!

men-playingThat probably got someone’s attention.  Now let me explain.  I am not suggesting for you to not have events for your men, in fact I would encourage it.  But don’t have events just to be having events.  Use those events to help your men to take the next right step in their spiritual growth.  Use it to promote a deeper study into the Word of God, to join a small group with other men to share what you are learning from your reading of the Word.  Maybe even use it to encourage men to join couples classes many churches have to encourage growth in God as a couple.

In an earlier post I stated that a life verse of mine is 1 Thessalonians 2:8;

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 (CSB).

Discipleship GroupThat is what ministering to men is all about, sharing the gospel and your own life with other men.  It is discipling men into a intimate and intentional relationship with Jesus Christ.

Use the events to allow men who are in a small group or a discipleship group to share how this has benefited them in their spiritual growth.  Maybe have a time when you can let men experience a sample of what that is like by arranging men to gather in groups of three to four and praying together or sharing their thoughts on a topic that may have been discussed by a speaker.  Then do something I was taught and that is to have a prayer huddle.  2013-09-07-08-28-20What a great feeling that is as men gather together with their arms around each others shoulders much like we did when we played sports and spend time in prayer.  Use your events wisely.  Use them to speak into the man’s life – encouraging him.

I have developed an attitude that when I hear a team planning a men’s event, I always ask what are you going to do to help the men take the next right step.  Understand that all of the men will not take the step but no one will if you do not

Have your events, do some fun stuff but remember the goal is to share the gospel and to pour your life into those men.

Together in the challenge and adventure 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