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,
Well, I did it. For better or worse, I wrote a book (I'm not much of a marketer). It comes out of years of working with and discipling men.
And, according to my mother, who is a godly woman, it is an easy read. I'm pretty sure she meant that as a compliment. Here's a little bit about it...
Before men can live godly lives and go into all the world to make disciples for Christ, they must first have a firm foundation.
The foundation all men need is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Only when a man becomes a new creature in Christ can he grow in Christlikeness.
This godly man will then follow his Lord into every sphere of his life, making a difference in his home, church, workplace, community, culture, and world. He does not pursue such godliness in isolation, but in the fellowship of other godly men. This is how God’s Kingdom transforms the world. But it must start with the Gospel.
Foundations for Godly Manhood encourages men to pursue all God created, redeemed, and calls them to be by building their lives upon the firm foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his life-giving, life-transforming truth revealed in Holy Scripture.
Share this with men you're witnessing to. It works for one-on-one discipleship, small groups, or read it devotionally for yourself.
You can click here to order it.
Since I first wrote this post, I put together a great page of links to websites and blogs for ministering to men. You can click here to check it out. However, the ones below are still fantastic and I encourage you to visit them when you're able.
For this Top Ten I wanted to share some of the websites that have blessed me regarding ministry to men. However, because I’ve come across so many helpful websites on this subject, carving this down to ten is, I’m sure, an injustice to others that ought to be included.
Part of my criteria for choosing which websites make my Top Ten list is that the website has to be useful. In other words, the ministry that a website represents may be phenomenal and doing great things for the Kingdom. However, if the website itself doesn’t do much more than tell me a few interesting things about the ministry, then it’s not very useful as an online resource. Thus, the websites I like most are the ones that provide articles, devotionals, podcasts, YouTube videos, social media connections, newsletters, etc. That’s how I decided which ones to include on this and every Top Ten list.
PS – The following websites are focused more on ministering to men “in general.” I’ll include Top Ten lists later that will focus on top websites for fathers, husbands, etc.
This list is in no particular order… except for the first one, because I believe it is far and away the best.
1.) Man in the Mirror Ministries with Pat Morley – Morley and company are the premier thinkers in the world of ministering to men. Their website is super user-friendly. You can read countless articles on men’s ministry, men’s issues, etc. You can download and listen to men’s Bible studies taught by Morley or watch them online. You can also sign up for a number of training events that Man in the Mirror holds or purchase some fantastic resources online. Great website that goes well with an incredible ministry to men.
2.) Every Man Ministries with Kenny Luck
3.) Top Gun Men’s Ministries
4.) Men’s Stuff at CrossWalk.com
5.) New Man Magazine
6.) Men’s Ministry at Bible.org
7.) Church for Men
8.) Live Bold
9.) Christian Businessmen Connection
10.) Men’s Ministry Catalyst
Grace and Truth,
I’m a bit of a late bloomer. I’m convinced that it was God’s grace moving in and through my call to ordained ministry that empowered and encouraged me to become someone who enjoys reading. Prior to that… all the way through college (to my parent’s horror) I seldom picked up a book (my grades reflected this fact).
Yet, even in college, when I was interested in something, such as politics, I would actually pick up a book and read it. It was after I graduated from college that I found myself reading books, mostly on theology. It was partly through reading that God ignited my heart and mind for him and for ministry. I’ve been a fairly active and consistent reader ever since.
However, to my frustration, there are just too many good books worth reading and not nearly enough time. Therefore, the discernment process is key… which books to read and when. This process is a work in progress for me. I have been helped by folks, such as Albert Mohler, for their wisdom on the subject.
One thing that has been very helpful for me is reading book summaries and reviews. I once heard Os Guinness say that you can’t possibly read everything you want to, so why not benefit from others who’ve read and summarized (and even evaluated) some of the books that you’ve been meaning to read. If the summary of the book really excites you, you can always buy the book for yourself.
There’s a very helpful post I came across a while back at Church Relevance on this point. I recommend that you read that as well.
Below are a few book summary providers that I’ve come across. Two of them I have already subscribed to. A couple of others I’m considering. If you have other recommendations, I’d love to hear from you. The first one, Christian Book Summaries, publishes on a variety of books. The other three focus on leadership, business, etc.
For books on theology, culture, worldview, etc., I usually read reviews from wherever and whomever I can. I have some great sources for them, such as WORLD Magazine, First Things, The Gospel Coalition, Christianity Today, Books & Culture, just to name a few.
Again, let me hear from you if you have some other good suggestions. I’m always looking for ways to read more (as well for ways to remember what I read).
Part of what I share with folks when they ask me about my call to ordained ministry goes something like this: When God called me I was already a Christian, but in and through that call to ordained ministry, I became a born-again student.
The word “squandered” aptly applies to what I did with four years of high school and four years of college. I cringe when I think back to wasted opportunities. In fact, I try not to bring that up around my parents too often as I can see their minds working to figure how much of their hard-earned money was put to disuse.
With my call to ordained ministry came clarity and passion to learn and grow… to develop into the man God called me to be. Certainly study is a key component of being a pastor as I’m called to teach God’s Word and all of its ramifications for every sphere of life. But my newfound love of learning (well, “newfound” as of 26 years ago) goes beyond that. I thoroughly enjoy reading about many topics as well as taking advantage of the increasing number of audio and video resources becoming available, not to mention all the FREE resources online.
My goal in the days to come via my website is to tell you about some of those resources and to encourage you to take advantage of the wonderful (and easy) opportunities to enjoy and grow from God’s special and general revelation.
By the way: I would LOVE it and be very grateful if you would also share resources that have served you well in your pursuit of lifelong learning. Let’s grow together!
Grace and Truth,
I really enjoy reading the posts at The Art of Manliness. The folks there are a creative bunch and there’s usually not a week that goes by that there isn’t something very, very interesting to read. Not only that, but it’s an excellently put together website (unlike amateur-hour over here). While not necessarily coming at manhood from a biblical perspective, much of what they share could still heartily receive an “Amen,” from men pursuing godliness.
A while back they posted a two-part series called, “Don’t Waste Your Twenties.” (Click here to read Part 1… and here for Part 2). The first post focused a great deal on how our brains are wired during our twenties and what we are, therefore, able to do better during that decade than when we grow older. Part two is a natural follow-up post that basically says, “Since your brain is, in fact, wired that way… take advantage of it. Don’t waste this prime time in your life” (that’s my very simple paraphrase). Again, both posts are very interesting and I would encourage you to read them both.
Those posts reminded me of a book I read by one of my favorite authors, Steve Farrar. It’s entitled, How To Ruin Your Life by 30. (By the way, I think it’s the perfect gift for both high school and college graduates!) It’s short, simple, and to the point. Better yet, it’s really insightful. Here are Farrar’s nine suggestions for how a young person can do a super job at ruining his or her life by age 30…
1.) Overlook the law of cause and effect
2.) Get off to a bad start
3.) Ignore God’s purpose for your life
4.) Refuse to take responsibility for your actions
5.) Neglect your gifts and strengths when choosing a vocation
6.) Disregard what the Bible says about sex and marriage
7.) Stop Learning
8.) Isolate yourself
9.) Refuse daily wisdom
Obviously, the book is written to make the very opposite points and Farrar offers some very helpful wisdom for folks at any age… not just the under 30 crowd.
Of course, the granddaddy of the “don’t waste your life” books is John Piper’s book… you guessed it… Don’t Waste Your Life. There is much wisdom in this book as well. One of Piper’s main desires is to encourage Christians not to give into the temptation of a retirement that amounts to no more than moving to Florida to collect shells on the beach and to play golf every day. He shares the words on a plaque that was in his childhood home that said…
Only one life,
‘Twill soon be past;
Only what’s done
for Christ will last.
The book is essentially an exposition of those words and the countless texts in Scripture that communicate that truth. It’s an inspiring, encouraging, and CONVICTING book. I think of the two, I would buy the Farrar book for graduates and give older folks the Piper book. Both, however, are well worth reading for Christians who take their lives in this world seriously.
Grace and Truth,
The world offers a lot of competition to setting our hearts on things above and setting our minds on Christ and the things of Christ.
Pat Morley, in his book, “The Man in the Mirror: Solving the 24 Problems that Men
Face,” talks about the difference between what he calls Cultural Christians and Biblical Christians. He says the mark of a Cultural Christian man is that he loves this life more than the next. And again, by “Biblical Christian,” he doesn’t mean someone who’s just waiting to go to heaven. He’s talking about the same thing that Paul’s talking about in our text… a man who deeply loves the things of God and is pursuing an eternal perspective in every sphere of his life.
Morley says that the Cultural Christian man…
Brothers, that’s just the opposite of what Paul is teaching us in our Scripture this morning. Instead, the Biblical Christian man is one who, because he’s been raised with Christ, sets his heart on things above, where Christ is seated and who sets his mind on things above, and not on earthly things.
Jesus tells us a parable about the difference between Cultural Christian men and Biblical Christian men. This is from Matthew 13…
Matthew 13:1-9 – That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake.  Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore.  Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed.  As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.  Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop–a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.  He who has ears, let him hear.”
Then he tells us what all this means…
Matthew 13:18-23 – “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means:  When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.  The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.  The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.  But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
Which one are you?
Which one best describes you?
Well, let me give you some bad news and some good news.
The bad news is that, left to ourselves, we’re all Cultural Christians who fall short of where God wants us. Left to ourselves, we can’t please God and will not even want to. Left to ourselves we’ll have no desire for God or the things of God.
But here’s the good news…
Because of what happened yesterday (Good Friday – Christ’s death on our behalf)… and what happens tomorrow (Easter Sunday – the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ)…
We’ve died with Christ and have been raised with him. And the same Holy Spirit that raised him from the dead lives in us. Can you dare to believe that. The same Holy Spirit! His Spirit ministers to us by living in us, empowering us, guiding us, encouraging us, convicting us, teaching us, and on and on and on.
That’s why Paul says in Galatians 2:20…
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
In our Scripture Paul tells us that Christ is our life. He desires to live his life in and through us. But we must set our hearts and minds on things above, where Christ is.
Through all of that and more, we’re better able, through the power of God’s Spirit and grace, to more and more set our hearts and minds on the things of God and become more like the Christian men that our Lord has called us to be.
May this be the pursuit of all of us gathered here this morning.
Soli Deo Gloria.
Christ is Risen!