The following contains notes from a Father's Day sermon I preached several years ago on the power of men who study God's Word together. Again, these are just notes from my sermon, not an article, so it may be a bit choppy and aggravating in that respect. However, I hope there might be some words of encouragement for you.
Men + Bible = Strength
2 Timothy 3:14-17
June 15, 2013
When we first began our 52 Promises we had several sessions where we attempted to identify things we wanted to focus on.
The title of this sermon came out of one of those brainstorming sessions. And yet the title and focus of this sermon could just as easily be…
Women + Bible = Strength ·
Youth + Bible = Strength ·
Children + Bible = Strength
And they would all be just as true.
However, It’s Father’s Day and our PROMISE this week relates to our Men’s Discipleship ministry. So that’s the reason for the title and focus of the sermon this morning.
Here are a few facts about our men's ministry here at Southside...
12 ½ years ago ·
6 or 7 men… my house ·
Saw need for men to be in Scripture with other men… sharing things they wouldn’t share in co-ed studies or even with men in other settings.
(Even JOHN WESLEY had men-only and women-only studies and small groups, which he called BANDS)
Within just a few months… we had 18 men crammed into my living room. The men were inviting other men… on their own. A need was being met.
Finally, we had to move to the Family Life Center.
About a year later we added the Monday night men’s group.
There are different kinds of men’s groups. Some have only 3-4 men and provide a safe place for men to share with each other… confess struggles, hold each other accountable, etc.
Our men's ministry has plenty of prayer and concern for one another. (What John Wesley called “Watching over one another in love.”)
But the main emphasis in our ministry, from the beginning, has been STUDYING God’s Word TOGETHER. Men + Bible = Strength
Now, as I often say, we don’t study the Bible just so we can just learn a lot of Bible information and win Jeff Foxworthy’s Bible Trivia TV show. We learn the information for transformation.
The Apostle Paul says in Romans 12:2…
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
A paraphrase of this verse is: “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold.”
If men are going to prevent being squeezed into the world’s mold, to be conformed to the world around us, then we have to renew our minds. And Paul says this mind-renewal will help to transform our lives into the likeness of Christ.
The King James Version of the Bible quotes Proverbs 23:7 as saying, “As a man thinks, so is he.” In other words, our “DOING” usually follows our “THINKING.”
So we’re encouraged to renew our minds. But how? With what? Well, the “What”… is God’s Word. And an important part of the “HOW” is… with other men.
Proverbs 27:17 says,
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
I can’t tell you how much wisdom flows on Monday evenings and Wednesday mornings as men sharpen one another through study, encouragement, challenging one another, etc. I have learned so much from our men.
But we’re not just meeting together to share our own wisdom. We’re there to hear a Word from God. To get God’s perspective on whatever topic we’re talking about.
Our Scripture this morning tells us why that’s so important.
Let’s look at our text again (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
Scripture makes us wise for salvation through Christ Jesus (verse 15) ·
Scripture is God-breathed (verse 16) ·
Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training us in righteousness (verse 16) ·
Scripture equips the man of God thoroughly for every good work. (verse 17) Ephesians 2:10 says we’re created to do good works. Bible equips us.
That’s why we don’t just sit around and share our own opinions. We study God’s Word on our own… and then come together to hear from one another about what God taught us. And in the process, God takes that collective synergy and gives us even greater wisdom and understanding as his Spirit moves leads our discussion of his Word. To be sure, this takes humility and a teachable spirit, but we think it’s worth it.
What if there was a practical way a group of men could grow closer with God and become more and more the men God created, redeemed, and called them to be… in every sphere of their lives (Baxter)…
* In their private lives when no one else was looking
* At home with their families ·
* At work ·
* At church ·
* In the community
What could a man look like if his mind was renewed each week with a group of men who opened God’s Word together?
Men, we would love to have you come and join us… on MONDAY nights or WEDNESDAY mornings.
Our greatest desire is for you to know Christ and become all that God wants you to be, in every sphere of your lives.
We think our men's ministry here at Southside can be a great instrument in the hands of God to help make that happen.
In the same spirit as what I call, Kingdom Discipleship, this is Session 1, from Tony Evans' video series, Kingdom Man. I'm not sure if the other five sessions are available online, but I thought this was worth sharing as it is such a vital message for men today to hear and embrace. Our culture is in desperate need for Kingdom Men who will faithfully follow the Lord Jesus Christ into every sphere of life.
Every now and then God is particularly good. Of course he’s always good, but every now and then his goodness is lavished in our lives in such a way that we immediately sense how undeserving we really are.
That was how I felt about 17 years ago when I stumbled upon a book that revolutionized my faith, ministry, and life. The book is entitled, The Micah Mandate, by George Grant. (Get this book!) It’s a marvelous, God-honoring study of what a biblical worldview is and how it should ignite those who hold it dear. Up to that point I had read every book around on the subject of Christian worldview, but those books seemed to only focus on the abstract and philosophical. Grant’s book expanded my world and broadened my horizons. He emphasized that worldview isn’t just something for the ivory towers of academia, but for all of life. Our worldview – our treasured faith – is for every sphere of life. I haven’t been the same since.
With that book's influence moving throughout my heart and mind, I began a weekly men’s discipleship ministry about a year later. My hope was that a few men would gather together around God’s Word and be saturated and transformed by it. I prayed that men would be renewed and revived. I deeply desired that biblical, God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, Spirit-filled disciples would be born – men who would change the world – beginning with themselves, then in and through their families, workplaces, churches, communities, the culture, and then perhaps, one day, the world. God honors such efforts. Reformation and revival happens in such ways.
My hope for the men’s ministry way back then, as it is today, was for God to penetrate the hearts, minds, and souls of our men with his Word, so thoroughly, that he would cultivate in their lives a framework (worldview) for viewing, interpreting, and applying their faith in every sphere of life. God has been pleased to work mightily in the lives of many of our men in such a way. Soli Deo Gloria.
Grace and Truth,
O merciful God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou has made, nor desirest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; Have mercy upon all who know thee not as thou art revealed in the Gospel of thy Son. Take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy fold, that they may be made one flock under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
O most merciful Saviour, who willest that all men should be saved; be present with those who are gone forth in thy Name to preach the Gospel in distant lands, especially Southside UMC’s mission team to Guatemala. Be with them in all perils, in sickness and distress, in weariness, in disappointment. Give them sure confidence in thee. Pour out upon them abundantly thy Holy Spirit, and prosper mightily the work of their hands; send unto them faithful and true fellow-laborers. Give them a rich increase there, and grant that hereafter they may dwell with thee in the heavenly places, world without end. Amen.
Taken from The Pastor’s Prayerbook, edited by Robert Rodenmayer, 1960
My favorite room to investigate when I visit someone’s home is their library and/or study (provided I’m allowed to do so without being too nosey). I find that such a room says much about a person. My little makeshift study in my home is my favorite room in the house (though it is often hijacked and turned into the laundry room or the Food Network viewing room). Yesterday I wrote about John Baillie’s study. What an amazing place of peace, intimacy with God, study, fellowship and ministry it must have been.
The good folks at The Art of Manliness have put together an impressive list of The Libraries, Studies, and Writing Rooms of 15 Famous Men that you really should take a look at.
And while you’re coveting your neighbor’s library and study, take a look at this list of 14 Famous “Man Rooms,” also put together by The Art of Manliness. And now, if you will please excuse me, I must go and wipe the drool off my keyboard.
Here’s to dreaming dreams and reading good books.
Grace and Truth,
I could have entitled this post, “Conservatives and Social Justice,” because my point would have been the same. Very often, folks on opposite sides of the political or theological fence talk past each other. This often happens because they are using different vocabulary and/or approaching issues from different perspectives. But, as is sometimes (not always) the case, when you dig beneath the surface, you discover their concerns are the same.
This is true on an issue such as social justice. For most of Christian history, Christians of all stripes have been caring for the dying, rescuing the neglected, setting up orphanages, raising money for the poor, visiting those in prison, etc. In other words, Christians were declaring, as well as living out, the implications of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all its fullness.
This post is not an historical reconnaissance, but I think it was somewhere in the early 20th century when both the fundamentalist/modernist controversy and the social gospel movement began to gain traction. Folks who were described (by themselves or others) as “liberal” began highlighting, almost exclusively, the social ramifications of the Gospel. By “social” I mean the “this-worldly, here-and-now, physical needs” of the last, least, and lost. Of course, as a United Methodist, I would want to point to John Wesley who was ministering to those folks long before then. And, as a Christian in general, I could point to almost any century since Christ where Christians were caring for the poor, oppressed and downtrodden. The social gospelers’ concerns were not new. Their virtually exclusive "physical and temporal" emphasis (to the neglect of the spiritual and eternal) was new.
Toward the latter 20th century it became common to frame the argument thusly: Evangelicals or Conservatives care only about salvation of souls and the world hereafter. Liberals or Progressives care only about issues here and now, such as social justice. And, in truth, some Evangelicals and Conservatives brought that caricature upon themselves.
Whatever the perception and however it came to be, it’s still too often assumed to be the case. In reality, Evangelicals/Conservatives care just as much about life in this world as Liberals/Progressives. But very often, obstacles such as varying perspectives, differing emphases and vocabulary, and disagreements regarding strategies to deal with issues such as social justice come into play.
An example might look like this: If a person doesn’t think the government should be as involved as it is in issues dealing with poverty, then very often that person is deemed not to care about the poor. Instead, it may very well be the person in question cares a great deal about the poor but looks to other means and strategies to address the issue.
Of course, I’m not saying anything new here. But we play into established stereotypes far too often to be helpful to anyone. And so, on that note, I’ve linked some very fine and helpful articles on social justice by a few Evangelical and/or conservative thinkers (see below). The articles are well worth your time and effort.
Grace and Truth,
Great links on Social Justice at Break Point
The Real Social Justice? at IFWE
Social Justice links at Heritage Institute
Defining Social Justice by Dylan Pahman
Social Justice has Christian History at Anthony Bradley
The Elements of Social Justice by Anthony Bradley
How Do We Work for Justice and Not Undermine Evangelism by Russell Moore
Gambling, The Gospel, and Social Justice by Russell Moore
Social Justice links at Public Discourse
Social Justice links at The Society for a Just Society
The Social Justice Fallacy? by Mark Hendrickson
Christian Charity: Social Justice and the Good Samaritan by Mark Hendrickson
Social Justice links at First Things
Real Social Justice by Regis Nicoll
A Profile of Social Justice by Andree Seu
Glenn Beck, Social Justice, and the Limits of Public Discourse by Al Mohler
Redefining Social Justice by Elizabeth Waibel
On Social Justice by Brittany Baldwin
Is Social Justice Just Ice? by Marvin Olasky
Beck vs. Wallis by Marvin Olasky
He made a difference in his culture for the Kingdom of God...
It’s probably easier to ask what Abraham Kuyper did not do rather than what he did do.
Committed Christian. Cultural warrior. Founder of a political party. Prime minister and statesman. Newspaper founder and editor. Founder and president of a university and professor. Pastor. Writer. He did all that and more.
I believe with many that Abraham Kuyper is one of the most important role models for Christians today who want to make an impact in their world. He is someone you ought to get to know. Here are a few resources to help better acquaint you with him…
Grace and Truth,