Filed under: Leadership
By Walt Alexander
Men, in studying for Fuel Group this morning, I stumbled upon a striking understanding of time in Ephesians 5. It’s a familiar passage, but I fear an all too unfamiliar distinction.
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Familiar passage, right? Don’t be evil. Don’t waste time. Blah blah blah….
Let’s consider two things:
1. Context. Throughout these two chapters, Paul is teaching the Ephesians what it means to walk and to live like a Christian within our daily life, within daily interactions, within relationships encountered daily. He informs them to put off the old self (4:22) and to put on the new self (4:24). He tells them to put away falsehood (4:25), corrupt speech (4:26), and bitterness (4:31). He continues by unpacking what is not even to be named among them – all sexual immorality, all impurity, all covetousness, filthiness, foolish talk, or crude joking (5:3,4). He reminds them that the people who do these things will not inherit the kingdom of God (5:5). Simply put, they won’t be in heaven. They will perish. Then, he warns them not to associate with them – with these men of darkness – lest they become like them. See, they too were once men of darkness, but now they are light in the Lord. They are children of light. They must now live to please Him (5:10). They must walk as children of light (5:8). Furthermore, they must expose darkness (5:11).
2. Meaning. Paul’s intention here is much more radical than a call to productivity. It is a call to please the Lord. We must look carefully how we walk, because how we walk reveals who we serve. Managing our time is much more than conquering a checklist. It is battle between light and darkness, between pleasing God and pleasing our flesh and the god of this world.
Men, we must manage our time to please the Lord and to evade the darkness of this world. We all were once children of darkness, ensnared and enslaved to the pleasures of our flesh, having no desire for God. We were God’s enemies. But God transformed us. He raised us from the dead, forgiving all of our sin through the cross of Christ. He gave a new life, a life of light. Let us not return like a dog to his vomit, to our dark sinful ways, to the desires of the flesh. Let us live to please Him who bears the scars and bore the shame. This means every day (dare I say every hour or every minute) is crucial. Let us please Him!
Filed under: Humor
I have been punched in the face. Seriously. I have been in several fights and skirmishes in my day. Most of these brawls were with my older brother when we were growing up. My fights with my brother usually looked like this:
Step 1: I did something stupid or annoying, like make tons of loud shrills and noises when him and his buddies would be hanging out.
Step 2: He warned me to stop. Usually employing several impassioned sentences saturated with profanity.
Step 3: I continued, nay, intensified my annoyance.
Step 4: He chased me.
Step 5: He caught me, tackled me and gave me some good hits or kicks with the same profanity saturated language
Step 5: I out ran him and locked myself in the bathroom, countering his profanity with my own radical curse-word combos (I was very creative with profanity as a kid) and screamed for my mom.
One time I fought with my brother and his friend Jason was over at our house. They had been making fun of me all day. In my anger and injured pride, I jumped at my brother, knocking him to the ground. Then, I grabbed my ankle and did a knee drop on his head! He jumped up and ran off crying and yelling, “Dude, you dented in my head!” We never physically fought again. (unless you count me slapping his whiskey glass last November.)
However, I have had my share of extra-familial fights. When I was in 6th grade I had a buddy named Wesley. I was fat. I was being picked on all the time for being fat and dorky. One day at lunch time Wesley came up and said something to me completely unrelated to a fat joke and not at all in a hostile manner, but I proceeded to take out all of my fat-nerdy-kid anger on him. I kicked him in the stomach multiple times and then started crying. I left the cafeteria a broken man. Since then, I have never hit another person in anger. (not that I haven’t wanted to or thought about it!)
Another time, I was at a football game and me and some buddies dressed up like nerds and were goofing off in the student section. This dude, thinking he would join in on the goofing/nerd play acting, came up and starting making nerd jokes. We thought it was funny until he punched me in the face and gave my friend John a wedgie. I was shocked. I just acted like a nerd and rolled my sleeves up and started doing some kind of martial arts stance. A cop came and made him leave.
What is it in men that makes us prone to fight? Is it all bad? Is it only evidence of our sinful nature that we get a thrill out of fighting and wrestling other men? Why do we like war movies and fight movies (Rambo, Saving Private Ryan, Bloodsport, etc.)? Do you guys have any funny/embarrassing fight stories? Have you ever had your butt whooped? Can anyone whoop Jake Simmons?
Filed under: Evangelism
by Travis Maples
Currently I am reading The Soul Winner by Charles Spurgeon. I thank God for that man. My only regret is that I have not picked it up sooner. What is it to “win a soul”? As far as us being instruments God uses, “what are the processes by which a soul is led to God and to salvation?”(p.15)
“I take it that one of [soul winning’s] main operations consists in instructing a man that he may know the truth of God. Instruction by the Gospel is the commencement of all real work upon men’s minds.” (pg. 15)
Jesus’ great commission of Matthew 28:29 is a commission to teach and instruct. Spurgeon writes:
“The Gospel is a reasonable system; it appeals to men’s understanding. A matter for thought and consideration, it appeals to the conscience and reflecting powers. Hence, if we do not teach men something, we may shout, ‘Believe! Believe! Believe!’ but what are they to believe? Each exhortation requires a corresponding instruction, or it will mean nothing. ‘Escape!’ From what? This requires for its answer the doctrine of the punishment of sin. ‘Fly!’ But where? Then must you preach Christ and His wounds, and the clear doctrine of atonement by sacrifice. ‘Repent!’ Of what? Here you must answer such questions as, What is sin? What is the evil of sin? What are the consequences of sin? ‘Be converted! But what is it to be converted? By what power can we be converted? What from? What to?” (Pg. 16)
This very issue is what provoked R.C. Sproul to write his book Saved From What. In this book, Dr. Sproul gives an account of a walk he was on where a zealous man jumped out and asked him “Are you saved?!” Dr. Sproul, startled, asked, “Saved from what?!” The guy did not know how to answer, so perplexed, the man turned and walked away.
So we have some explaining to do. I think it’s a temptation to think that when sharing the gospel we ought to keep it simple stupid and not talk about theological terms because we think they won’t get it or the deep things of God is to be only discussed amongst Christians. But as we see out of the great commission we are to teach and instruct. We are to engage their minds. When we’re sharing the gospel we don’t need to hold back these doctrines of sin or atonement in an attempt to be relevant. We just need to explain them.
Filed under: Featured Resource
by Mike Plewniak
A review of pages 87-103.
This week we are reviewing two characteristics of a godly man. He is a praying man and a sincere man. We are in the double digits now, so if you are just joining in, you can review the first nine studies by clicking here.
A praying man. What does this mean? Why is this important? First of all, prayer reveals dependence and trust. Obviously, to be a godly man, you must depend on God and trust in God. If you are not praying to God, the question quickly becomes “are you trusting in him or yourself?” To lead others to love God more, you must love God and be dependent on him. Acts tells us that “in him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28, actually review this whole chapter of Acts). Watson says, “Prayer is the soul’s traffic with heaven. God comes down to us by his Spirit, and we go up to him by prayer” (p. 87). What should our prayers look like? Watson says they should be: with knowledge, with desires, fervent, from a broken heart, believing, holy, humble, in the name of Christ, out of love, with spiritual goals, partnered with works, and it should have an effect upon our heart. That’s quite a list! Yet it is a list that godly men should aspire to live out in our prayer lives. Men, if you do not pray, you are not fit to lead. Hit the ground, put your noses in the dirt, and cry out to God from a humble heart. Then, have confidence that this almighty, all-knowing God hears your prayers and will answer them.
A godly man is a sincere man. The opposite of this is a hypocrite. Someone who deceives others to make them think he is something he really is not. “A godly man is what he seems to be…the hypocrite is not what he seems” (p. 97). To be sincere means that we are honest with our sins, that we have accountability, that we do not try to hide our faults to appear more godly and mature then we actually are. “The hypocrite veils and smothers his sin. He does not cut off his sin but conceals it” (p. 97). Men, I want to encourage you that the more you confess and reveal your sin, the more grace there is awaiting you. The greater we see our sin, the greater the cross becomes in our eyes.
Let me just finish with this quote from Watson that stuck me in the heart: “One scandalous hypocrite makes the world suspect that all professing Christians are like him” (p. 102). Let us not make the world think that we are sinless because we are Christians, but let them see how much we need a Savior and how desperate and dependent we are on God.
For next week: pages 103-118
Filed under: Devotions
by Jonathan Oldacre
Josh Harris has a gift for making things simple…either that or I understand things like kids understand things; with pictures.
Filed under: Devotions
by Jonathan Oldacre
God is good to us. Really good. And His commandments are not burdensome; they’re freeing. In Piper’s book “What Jesus Demands from the World,” he likens God’s commands to telling someone to leap to safety from a burning building. We live in a dangerous world that’s crashing down around us every single day due to the destructive power and influence of sin, and Jesus Christ beckons us to flee from destruction to the sure shelter of His truth. Christ’s truth is powerful and freeing!
Listen to John 8:31-32: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Dr. Piper says that “the result of abiding in Jesus’ word is being set free. From what? From sin. That’s the slavery Jesus has in mind, as John 8:34 shows: ‘Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.’ So freedom from sin is the fruit of abiding in the word. ‘If you abide in my word…the truth will set you free.’ Not sinning is the fruit, not the definition, of abiding in the word.”
Notice something very important here. Jesus is talking about two kinds of ‘setting free.’ First, God frees us from sin’s bondage by regenerating our hearts and causing us to trust in Christ for salvation. Second, God gradually conforms us to the image of Christ; that’s sanctification.
You don’t become a disciple of Christ by abiding in His word. Abiding in His word is a fruit, or an evidence, that you are His disciple. Salvation is in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone. You don’t earn a right standing with God by reading the Bible, you don’t contribute to your salvation, you just receive it. But when we talk about the fruit of your justification before God, abiding in His word is a healthy sign that you’ve indeed been born again! Do you love His word? That can be an evidence that you’ve been born again; isn’t that encouraging?
Related to this, there is a day-by-day abiding in Christ’s word (reading Scripture, meditating on it, praying it back to God) that gradually weakens the influence of sin in our lives. Sin’s neck has been broken by Christ’s death on the cross, but it still lives crippled in the hearts of men. With its captain crushed, it’s armies scattered, it wages guerilla warfare on our souls. So daily we must drive nail after nail into it’s coffin, smothering it until the day we see Christ face to face in glory!
Men, let’s abide in Christ’s word today so that our flesh will be smothered and our passion for the Savior will grow strong!