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,
Steve Arterburn, Kenny Luck, and Mike Yorkey have done a great job helping men pursue godliness. Their book, Every Man, God’s Man is, as the title page says, “every man’s guide to courageous faith and daily integrity.” The men’s discipleship ministry at our church has used several of the study guides taken from this book and gotten a great deal of mileage out of them. I highly recommend them.
Here are a few of the key ideas from the Introduction and first chapter of the book…
Underneath all of your horrible habits or terrible treatment of others, you will find muscles of character. That character has been covered up by things of this world.
Author Dallas Willard got it right: What’s needed is a renovation of the heart before a renovation of lifestyle.
If you reach a man, then you reach every relationship he has.
…far too many men do not give themselves fully to being God’s man.
I want to make a quick comment about the quote from Dallas Willard because I think he’s exactly right. Too often churches want to give men stuff to do and, as Pat Morley puts it, make workers instead of disciples. Now, of course, there’s nothing wrong with men serving in their local church and community. Indeed, we’re called to do so. However, if we fail to heed Jesus’ words in John 15 about his words abiding in us and us abiding in him, we will create withering branches that cease to do anyone any good because there's no life-giving nutrients running through them.
Let’s encourage men to first build and strengthen their relationship with God and God’s people and then let the Spirit call and lead each man according to the gifts and graces given him. After all, we want men who will bear much good and lasting fruit… not men who wither on the vine.
Grace and Truth,
Far and away one of the best books I’ve ever read on child-rearing is Standing on the Promises, by Doug Wilson. If you were to ask to borrow my copy, I’m not sure it would do you any good because you probably wouldn’t be able to read the words from all my notes and markings.
However, if you are looking for a “how to” book to help you raise your children, this is not the book for you. While the book is not without practical application, Wilson is far less concerned with giving you twelve easy steps to parenting godly kids as he is with giving you a firm foundation upon which to do so. But, I hasten to add, the book is anything but abstract and impractical. It is encouraging, instructive, and even inspiring. I heartily recommend it to any and all parents who are seeking to raise godly children in this ungodly age.
Here are a few choice quotes from the first chapter that I think are worth passing on…
The Fountainhead of Culture
The biblical family is an instituted government, established by God at the very beginning of human history. The constitution for this government was written by him, and revealed to us in his Word.
Parents bring up their children to be colonists at the proper time, planting families of their own.
Consequently, each family is designed to be a culture – with a language, customs, traditions, and countless unspoken assumptions. God has made the world in such a way that children who grow up in the culture of the family are to be shaped and molded by it. The duty of the husband and father is to ensure that the shaping is done according tot he standards of the Word of God.
[A common problem among modern Christians] is that of forgetting the family is a culture at all, and allowing, by default, outside cultural influences to take primacy in how the children are shaped. When the biblical cultural mandate for the home is abandoned in the home, the vacuum will not be there for long.
By nature, children are malleable. They will either be shaped lawfully, by those commanded by God to perform the task, or they will be shaped unlawfully, by outsiders. But as children, they will be shaped.
I've shared this piece a number of times over the years, primarily because of the impact Ken Boa made (and continues to make) in my life. I also share it because, in many ways, his influence shows up in much of how I think and minister, as well as what I write. When I begin a new website, (or a website reboot), I try to make sure I include this small gesture of gratitude. I now appreciate the time and effort Ken invested in me as much as when I first wrote this.
Any person who has ever taken a class I have taught has heard the name “Ken Boa” more times than they ever wanted. Ken was a mentor of mine from 1989-1992, while I attended seminary in Atlanta.
I first “discovered” him through an audio tape someone let me listen to. After that, I went to the seminary library and read everything I could get my hands on. I also started attending as many of Ken’s Bible studies and small groups as possible.
Sometimes, at seminary, students can actually become spiritually malnourished as God becomes more of an object to be studied rather than a Person to be loved. Ken served as a great antidote to that disease in my life.
I enjoyed the privilege of getting to know Ken one-on-one and was even allowed to teach some of his classes from time to time. I will always appreciate the time and effort he poured into me. He must have exercised great patience in having this young seminary student trailing behind his every step. But if he did, I never knew it. He was always very gracious and helpful.
After graduation and moving back to Florida, I continued studying under Ken via his audio tapes and books. I have listened to his teaching and read his books over and over again. In fact, I wrote him a few years ago and told him his influence has been felt at every church I have served.
Today I can still keep up with Ken through his website. I can receive daily devotions and prayers, download and listen to his teaching, read many of his articles, etc. And if I want to feel even more like I’m back in one of his studies, I can watch him teach via video.
I haven’t kept up with Ken over the years very well. I have mailed periodic “thank you” cards to him from time to time. But it’s nice to know I can still keep up with him and his teaching. He was, and remains, a very influential mentor in my life. My ministry reveals it as the folks I have been privileged to teach and disciple can easily attest.
Below is an introduction to Ken that I took from his website. If you are interested in spiritual formation, apologetics, or some really good Bible studies, I would encourage you to visit his website and get to know more about him. I am indebted to him and thank God for him.
Grace and Truth,
Kenneth Boa is engaged in a ministry of relational evangelism and discipleship, teaching, writing, and speaking. He holds a B.S. from Case Institute of Technology, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, a Ph.D. from New York University, and a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford in England.
Dr. Boa is the President of Reflections Ministries, an organization that seeks to encourage, teach, and equip people to know Christ, follow Him, become progressively conformed to His image, and reproduce His life in others. He is also President of Trinity House Publishers, a publishing company that is dedicated to the creation of tools that will help people manifest eternal values in a temporal arena by drawing them to intimacy with God and a better understanding of the culture in which they live.
Recent publications by Dr. Boa include Conformed to His Image, 20 Compelling Evidences that God Exists, Face to Face, Augustine to Freud, and Faith Has its Reasons. He is a contributing editor to The Open Bible and The Leadership Bible, and the consulting editor of the Zondervan NASB Study Bible.
Kenneth Boa also writes a free monthly teaching letter called Reflections. If you would like to be on the mailing list, visit http://www.kenboa.org/ or call 800-DRAW NEAR (800-372-9632).
Our local church, Southside United Methodist Church, was born on Easter Sunday, 1950. It was on that day the men and women, boys and girls of Southside assembled together as an official congregation of the Methodist Church to lift their hearts, minds, and voices in worship to God for his grace and goodness in bringing them together. It was also an opportunity for them to commit themselves to the service of Christ and his kingdom.
The men’s ministry, interestingly, was actually born the day before.
It was on the preceding day, Holy Saturday, the men of Southside decided to meet together to get everything ready for the next day’s events. These faithful, servant-hearted brothers also thought it would be a good idea to meet a few hours early for the purpose of cooking breakfast and then enjoying it and fellowship together. Southside men have been meeting every Holy Saturday since then for our annual “Men’s Easter Breakfast.”
I share this bit of history to communicate that this wonderful tradition of Southside men represents how long Southside’s commitment to men has existed. It also shows how far back our men’s commitment to Christ and his local church, Southside UMC, actually goes.
Much of today’s literature that is devoted to men’s ministry is saturated with tales of woe regarding the absence of men in the church at large. Men, they tell us, have been alienated from feeling welcome or comfortable in church settings for a variety of reasons. Perhaps there’s truth to that in some churches.
Yet Southside has been blessed by the men (and, of course, the women) who have stepped up in many ways over the years to be used by God in the building up of his body. From administrative leadership to teaching Sunday school classes to serving the community, Southside men have a rich history of following Christ, which has left an enduring legacy to the Southside men of today.
I give thanks for those men of God who have gone before us. May the men of Southside in each and every generation faithfully pursue our United Methodist Church’s mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Soli Deo Gloria,
(April 14, 2010)