Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Church: Ministry or Missional Focus?

Hi and thanks for stopping by to view this video. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Take a moment and leave a comment. Blessings upon you!

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Why Do I Talk About Being on Mission…a Lot?

I’ll admit it…I talk a lot about being on mission. Whether I am eating a meal, taking a hike, working around the house or teaching, I am asking the Lord who He wants me to connect with and what He wants me to say. Because I am passionate about giving people the hope, love and invitation to be in relationship with God, the message just ooze’s from my life.

I believe that Jesus has given to every believer His spiritual DNA so that they can grow into maturity and be reproductive for generations. People can be spiritually reproductive for generations if they pass the understanding of DNA to those they help become more like Jesus (discipleship).

DNA is Divine Truth (the Living and Written Word of God - Matt. 22:37), Nurturing Relationships (the one another taught in the Scriptures - Matt. 22:39) and Apostolic Mission (Apostle means sent one so every believer is sent to take the good news where ever they go - that is their mission -Matt. 28:16-20).

Most believers have some understanding that the Word of God (Living and Written) is vital to their spiritual health (Divine Truth). Most believers enjoy being with other believers in a variety of settings (Nurturing Relationships). In my experience, the area that is most lacking in believers is the intentional focus of sharing the good news through action and words  (Apostolic Mission). Because of this, God has had my life focus on being missional.

My emphasis for nudging people forward in mission is because I see God as being missional. The Missio Dei (Mission of God) is at the core of what we learn of Him in the Scriptures. Here are twelve core verses that speak of God being on mission (Missio Dei) and how He wants those who trust Him to be on mission as well.

Genesis 1:27-28
27God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

Genesis 12:1-3 
1Now the Lord said to Abram,
"Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father's house,
To the land which I will show you;
2And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
3And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."

Exodus 19:5-6
5Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel."

Isaiah 6:8
Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

Matthew 24:14
This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

Matthew 28:18-20
“18…All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Mark 16:15
And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”

Luke 4:18-19
18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord."

John 17:20-21
20 "I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

John 20:21
So Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you."

Acts 1:8
but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

1 Peter 2:9-10
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Being missional must be more than something we believe or talk about. It must be something we do…something we are. We must be active (missional) in growing closer to God (Divine Truth). We must be active in growing in our love and service for each other (Nurturing Relationships). We must be active in our tangibly being present with other people so they can both see and hear the invitation of God to connect with Him.

Growing in the knowledge of God and the love for others is incomplete. We must also be focused on giving away our knowledge and love to the people God allows our life to intersect. God is missional everyday and in a variety of ways where ever you go. We must discipline ourselves to see these opportunities and then take action.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Necessity of Together

Jesus wasn’t kidding when he commanded every one of his followers to be engaged in helping each other to become like Him - making disciples (Matthew 28:16-20). Disciple making brings life to the soul. There are many ways that discipleship can be done but it must include the following basic ingredients: relationship, time investment and intentionally pointing each other to become more like Jesus. In Paul’s last letter, he instructs his closest disciple of over thirteen years, Timothy, that discipleship includes walking together in the same direction (2 Timothy 2:22 - Nurturing Relationships), a saturation of the Word of God in our souls (2 Timothy 3:16-17 - Divine Truth) and a strong engagement of sharing the good news of Christ with others as our mission (2 Timothy 4:5 - Apostolic Mission).

Discipleship is a core principle for the health of the church. When each believer takes seriously the task of growing deep in Christ with others, the gospel spreads wildly. Individualistic faith journeys, a hallmark of western Christianity, are not found in the Scriptures. Growth and spiritual reproduction always happens in relationship. Jesus sent out His disciples two by two (Matthew 10, Luke 10), He told us to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16-20), all of the Paul’s missionary journey’s in the book of Acts were done in communal relationships, the one another’s of the New Testament speak to our need of discipleship and Paul’s last letter focused on discipleship (2 Timothy 2:2). Discipleship requires sacrifice. Sacrifices of time, energy, transparency, forgiveness, risk and love. Discipleship is a necessity for true spiritual health.

Recently I had opportunity to hang out with several people who all said they were followers of Christ Jesus. They were from a variety of faith communities including Presbyterian, Evangelical, Methodist and Catholic. We had many spiritual conversations as I mostly listened and sprinkled our conversations with a few questions and comments. During these conversations I heard thoughts from devotionals, quotes from their pastors or priests, a recalling of what their brand of church promotes and a sprinkling of insights from the Big Book (from alcoholics anonymous), celebrate recovery and the twelve step program. None of them referred to the Scriptures as their source of truth to guide their lives. 

Some of their insights had hints of Scriptural truth but many others were really far from the truth. Each of these dear people were searching for meaning in their life and a greater purpose. They were wounded, sincere people in their faith but immature because they saw their faith as something that was administered to them by professionals. Although these people were somewhat faithful in attending church services, they had no real connection to the people in their churches nor to their spiritual leaders. Because their faith had been reduced to individualistic faith journeys of attendance with no relationship or accountability, they all were floundering on many levels of their faith. They were filled with doubts, disillusionment and despair. They were each hovering on spiritual poverty if they were not already steeped in it. 
A few choice questions and Biblical passages of encouragement from me brought life to their eyes. Most commented that they wished we could spend more time together. Their pain was real and deep and taking more of their soul. Who will walk with them to dig out of the mire clay?

Becoming more like Jesus is to be the goal of each His followers. To be more like Jesus must mean you can’t continue to be who you are today. Dying to yourself on a daily basis (Galatians 2:20) and putting on Christ (Romans 13:14) are crucial decisions each believer must make in community as we walk this earth. We are to “…flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22 emphasis mine). Being transparent and vulnerable with a few others is dangerous, risky, bold and healthy in our fight to be more like Jesus Christ. 

Are you living an individualistic faith journey or a saturated faith journey engaged with others? Should you choose the former you will likely miss the deep satisfaction of abiding in Christ and end up living for yourself. Should you choose the latter, you will find a deeper fulfillment and your life will be saturated with Scripture, living out the one others of the Bible and a missional bent to invite others to do the same…and the world will be blessed. 

I pray these thoughts have been of some benefit to you. I would love to interact with you on this topic.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Happiness and Satisfaction - Part 2

When we seek to find satisfaction in our accomplishments, we end up pouring ourselves into the tasks that promise satisfaction but leave us wanting more. The focus of our life  centers on us instead of Christ. Chasing satisfaction, self-worth or money are all fleeting objects of worship (Eccl. 5:10). Yup, read that last sentence again...all of us have worshipped satisfaction, self-worth, money or all three! 

We need to have confidence (self-worth), but not in ourselves. Our confidence should come  from Christ living through us (Philippians 1:6, 4:13, Hebrews 4:16). We should live abundant (satisfaction) lives, but that is only found in the ways of Christ (Psalm 16:11, 17:15). We all need money to provide for ourselves and families, but chasing (loving) money is a root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10).

In my last post, I wrote to you that finding true happiness happens when we become more and more like Jesus (Psalm 95:1-7; Matthew 5:6) not by pursuing self. Happiness comes through pursuing Christ as our priority and reminding ourselves about all He has done for us. His love for us is motivating like nothing else.

Psalm 95:1-7 invites us to remember what God has done for us and to enter into worshipping Him in community; "Come let US worship and bow down...". 

Psalm 95:8-11 warns us to not harden our hearts towards the Lord as the children of Israel did in the wilderness. 

8 The lord says, “Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah,
as they did at Massah in the wilderness.
9 For there your ancestors tested and tried my patience,
even though they saw everything I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with them, and I said,
‘They are a people whose hearts turn away from me.
They refuse to do what I tell them.’
11 So in my anger I took an oath:
‘They will never enter my place of rest.’” (Psalm 95:8-11 (NLT)

The above verses are referring to Exodus 16-17. The children of Israel saw the Lord provide daily food in the form of manna and meat and yet, they did not trust Him to care for their need of water. They complained against God and even said they wish they had not left Egypt where they were slaves and poorly treated. This caused God to be disappointed with them. That generation did not experience the promised land - they lost their reward but not their relationship with Christ. 

Happiness comes when we remember and are grateful for all that Christ has done for us. Trying to create satisfaction never works for very long. Resting in Christ, trusting Him and keeping His priorities are truths that will never disappoint...but...we must believe and trust Him. Who do you trust more, your own efforts or God's priorities?

Would love to hear your thoughts!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Happiness and Satisfaction - Part 1

I love planning for vacation. The weeks and days leading up to vacation motivate me and to look forward to what is about to come. No matter what I am doing, the thought of vacation seems to always be swirling in my thoughts.

There are many things in our lives today to distract us from keeping our thoughts on Christ; work, electronics, family, chores, errands and the list goes on. When our minds are swirling with the truths of Christ, our lives are actually happier in the midst of the busyness. 

Jesus said it this way, "Blessed (happy) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (Matt. 5:6 emphasis is mine). The world promises happiness and satisfaction through accomplishments but Jesus promises happiness and satisfaction through hungering and thirsting to be more like Him. So who do you believe; the world (accomplishments) or Jesus (being more like Him)?

One way to keep thoughts of Christ swirling in your mind all day long is to develop a gratefulness in your soul for all Jesus has done for you. Here is a short excerpt from Psalm 95 to remind us just a little of Christ has done for us. Hopefully, it will awaken your hunger for more of Him!

1Come, let us sing to the lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
2Let us come to him with thanksgiving.
Let us sing psalms of praise to him.
3For the lord is a great God,
a great King above all gods.
4He holds in his hands the depths of the earth
and the mightiest mountains.
5The sea belongs to him, for he made it.
His hands formed the dry land, too.
6Come, let us worship and bow down.
Let us kneel before the lord our maker,
7for he is our God.
We are the people he watches over,
the flock under his care.
If only you would listen to his voice today!  (Psalm 95:1-7 NLT)

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Identity = Forgiven

So many people go through life full of guilt and shame. If you have placed your trust in Jesus, then your true identity is that you are forgiven for all of your sins! You have been redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ. Give this short video a look to gain a basic understanding of our forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

You can view all of the videos in the "Identity" series by clicking HERE!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Identity = Worshipper

If you are a follower of Jesus, He has changed your identity to be a worshipper of King Jesus. The transformation is so amazing that you can enter the very presence of God and worship Him for all He has and is doing for and through you. Listen to this 2 minute video and be reminded that your identity is a Worshipper of King Jesus!

You can view all of the Identity series on YouTube HERE!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Identity = Adopted

Once you place your trust in Jesus for your salvation, a whole new world opens up. In this short video we explore the truth that God has adopted us as daughters and sons to be His heirs and empowered to live with purpose and impact for Him.

You can view all of the videos in the "Identity" series by clicking HERE

Friday, September 18, 2015

Identity = Chosen

When a person places their trust in Jesus Christ there is an identity switch! These short videos are to prompt you to explore more about your true identity in Christ if you have placed your trust in Him. This episode will discuss that we are Chosen by God as part of our new identity. Give this video a view and share it if you find it of some benefit!

You can view all of the videos in the "Identity" series by clicking HERE!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Identity = Blessings

God desires His followers to be impactful and influential throughout their lives, therefore, God has given every one of His followers "every spiritual blessing" (Eph. 1:3). Watch this 2 minute video to learn more about these spiritual blessings that God freely gives His followers!

You can view all of the videos in the "Identity" series by clicking HERE!

Friday, September 04, 2015

Identity = Saint

You can view all of the videos in the "Identity" series by clicking HERE

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What are We Passing On? Choose Wisely!

When our three children were young, we learned it was nearly impossible to meet the demands and desires typical of a young active family. Options to participate in more events and sports were endless. The call of consumerism demanded we follow the culture to acquire the next coolest whatever. We certainly didn’t want to be “uncool”. The more things we engaged in, the less time we had to keep the house up, keep the cars clean, or to spend time at home together. As a family, we had to decide to create margins in our lives. Just as pages in a book have margins of white space so the eyes are not exhausted, we needed margins in our families life with no activities so we could prioritize and stay sane.

Margins in people’s lives is the concept of leaving open space for rest, restoration and refreshment. For many families, free space just isn’t available. When this happens, fatigue and even exhaustion begin to set in. Decisions must be made to create margins in our lives or sickness (physically, psychologically and spiritually) begins to hamper us. For many today, spiritual disciplines and commitments are what are compromised in order to find the peace and rest needed. The problem is that surrendering our spiritual well being is folly and Proverbs 9:13-18 says that folly brings death to our souls.

Some parents never consider a child’s desire to skip school, homework or practice. However, opting out of spiritual gatherings and disciplines generally isn't given much thought. Teachers, bosses and coaches carry weight that spiritual leaders don’t seem to have in our lives. When a coach calls because a practice is missed, we are grateful that he or she cares. When a spiritual leader challenges us towards faithfulness in Christ we cringe and cry control or legalism.

“We are never free from the battle between our flesh and the Spirit” (Galatians 5:17 NLT). Our culture screams for us to elevate ourselves while the Scriptures nudge us to a better way to live through service, sacrifice and surrender (2 Timothy 2:1-10). We are encouraged to seek God first, love others as ourselves and to be on mission to see Christ formed in others (DNA). 

We must gather together as families (spiritual and biological) and talk openly about how hard it is to fight against our cultures raging demands. Different decisions must be considered and made in order to find the peace, unity and maturity in our most holy faith.

The following are a few thoughts to work through in our spiritual and biological families in order to nudge people to a more mature walk in our life with Christ as family.

When we hoard our energy instead of expending it to others, our actions are stating that selfishness is acceptable.

3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:3-7 NASB (also read the larger context of Philippians 2:1-17).

When we value saving our money more than we value generous giving, we teach others that our security is in our own abilities and that God’s principles are not to be trusted.

5 …but I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly. 6 Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 9 As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” 2 Corinthians 9:5b-9 NLT

When we creatively adjust our schedules to attend our children’s practices, games and events but opt to rest instead of being church with others, we are teaching others that the gods of this world are more worthy of our time and sacrifice than the King of Universe.

30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:30-34 NLT

When we can make it home after a busy Saturday to catch the game on TV but choose to linger at the park instead of spending time in the Word, we are teaching others that what delights our flesh is of higher value than what delights God.

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NASB

When we instruct our children that they should not whimsically miss school or work but then complain we are too tired to be the church with others, we are teaching that spiritual disciplines are not worth our effort. We are teaching spiritual laziness!

“6 In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. 7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. 10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. 11 Prescribe and teach these things.” 
1 Timothy 4:6-11 NASB

Let’s work toward creating margins of refreshment in our lives so we can live out what is truly most important and demonstrating by our choices that we live for Jesus.

I would love hear your thoughts on these vital issues of our day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

E2:10 Training Has Arrived!

I am very excited to announce a new kind of training opportunity for those who seriously want to follow Jesus.
E2:10 Training gets its name from Ephesian’s 2:10, ““For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (NLT)
The idea is that God has uniquely created each believer. Among other things, He has given them certain gifts, knowledge, insights, personality traits, relationships, and opportunities. All of these are specific to the individual disciple. The goal of E2:10 Training is help the disciple unlock what’s already been deposited by God in a way that moves them toward their full potential as a change-agent in this world.
Most schools and training regimens focus solely on knowledge and a few might include skill acquisition. E2:10 Training employs proven tools and strategies to teach theology in an interactive and reproducible way, ramp up skills through actual participation in ministry, and facilitate discovery of one’s personal gifts and calling. It’s this personal one on one coaching that changes everything. Instead of the student needing to conform to the curriculum, the curriculum adjusts to the student thus releasing and empowering what God has already placed in them.
If you’re serious about walking with Jesus, then I would strongly encourage you to check out and prayerfully consider if this groundbreaking opportunity is for you.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

For all Men Over 40 Years Old - Part 4

We are in This Together!

“How do you maintain your trust in God when life has thrown you so many challenges?” This was a question a younger man asked me after learning that my adult daughter is brain damaged and my wife had gone through breast cancer. It was a deep question that required a strong conversation. I began by telling this younger believer that I did not handle these situations well at first. Anger, denial, doubt and fear flooded my soul when I learned about each of these situations.

Although you may not have gone through experiences like mine, the experiences you have gone through are used by God to form you into the image of Jesus. God uses difficult experiences to season our lives with the flavor of grace. Embracing our hardships with eyes focused and surrendered on Christ cause us mature. Running from the difficult situations in our life causes weakness. It is with this understanding that I believe Paul encouraged Titus to remind older men to acquire the following six qualities as they work through hard times, so they can influence the generations to follow.

1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Titus 2:1-2 (ESV)

Sober Minded/Temperate
This carries the idea of being free from negative influences, of being clear-minded, circumspect and free from life-dominating influences. This type of freedom from such influences can only be acquired through discipline and by embracing struggles rather than numbing them or running from them. It seems clear that men who have been disciplined and fought well against the evil one will emerge as seasoned fathers.

An older man in Christ is meant to be someone who is looked up to. Dignified carries the idea of being venerable, honorable, serious, weighty, deeply respected or having gravitas. To be dignified takes years of living out one’s faith consistently and publicly. This is a lofty quality that must be wrapped in humility and yet full of confidence in who God has shaped them to be. When older men are dignified, they become like a magnet, drawing others to themselves for their depth of character. This points others to Jesus so He is elevated.

Being able to carry one’s strength and wisdom with a sense of indebtedness to Christ is powerful. Older men should be more about elevating others rather than looking for the spot light for themselves. Older men should be holding out the baton of life, faith and leadership to younger men. Younger men should be encouraged to carry the baton forward in Christ’s strength for the expansion of Christ’s Kingdom. Sensible older men will yearn for opportunities to do this! They will then be able to finish well the race that Christ has set before them.

Sound in Faith
To be ‘sound’ is to be healthy. A healthy faith is a quality that older men are encouraged to possess. To be healthy in faith is to have a deep trust in Jesus and confidence that He is in control no matter what life throws at us. A healthy faith is one that is anchored in the Scriptures and makes choices to faithfully line up with Scriptures teachings. This type of faith will be a great example for others to follow. A sound, healthy faith will influence others to stay pointed towards Jesus. A strong healthy faith will help them offer wisdom to others on how to remain pointed in this healthy direction.

Sound in Love
A healthy love should flow from the heart of older men. A healthy love is a response by one who knows how much he is loved by God. A healthy love is focused on pouring out sacrificial care upon those they are around. Self-sacrificing love will raise the hope in others as they move through life. It will seek what is best for others. It strives to hear from God and speaks out those truths in words and actions, encouraging others to love in a like manner.

Sound in Perseverance
Older men will continue to move through the distresses of life patiently in order see things from God’s perspective. They endeavor to pass on this perspective to others. Endurance is developed as the older man’s eyes remained fixed on the goal of the upward call of Christ. Because of this healthy ability to remain steadfast in adversity, others will be influenced to live similarly. The flesh, the world and the devil continuously tug and pull on our hearts toward affections other than Christ.

In my next post I’ll have an epilogue on this topic from 2 Timothy 2:2. I would enjoy your interaction on these thoughts. Leave a comment below and I’ll look forward to chatting with you!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

For all Men Over 40 Years Old - Part 3

We are in This Together!
I was with a younger man in my back yard and we were talking about our hearts. This friend was in the middle of a season of chaos and he felt like he was failing. I listened to his story of perceived wrong decisions and knew he looked to me for any thread of hope. I knew exactly how he felt because I have been in many seasons of chaos. These seasons often feel like relief will never come. As I drew from my experiences and asked him deep questions, I saw hope begin to be rise in his heart. A sense of strength and a desire to engage the chaos emerged. He began to feel more like a life preserver in an angry sea had been offered. 

Because of my pursuit of the Father and because I wrestled and still wrestle through my own chaotic events, I was able to ask questions that drew out what God may be doing to develop this young man. It is vital for men to make the effort to practice the discipline of drawing close to the Father so they are able to become spiritual fathers. The investment of seeking God on our own and through relationships with mentors is necessary in order to accumulate a deep pool of wisdom and spiritual resources that we can give away through mentoring other men who are a few steps behind us! 

The Apostle John has much to say to fathers in a few verses found in 1 John 2:12-14.

12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:12-14 (ESV) (Emphasis is mine)

“Fathers” of the faith will be tested, scorched and proven in their pursuit of Jesus. This proving comes through struggling and engaging the chaos of life, knowing without doubt that God the Father will walk with us through the fray. Fathers “…know him who is from the beginning.” This phrase is an amazingly strong statement that speaks of a deep and deepening relationship that develops over years of faithful dependence on the One who knows us perfectly. 

The context of this passage indicates the need for “fathers” in our lives to encourage “children” in the faith to understand that their sins are forgiven (1 John 2:12) - that is that their souls are secure with God upon giving their life up for His life to flow through them. Fathers are also necessary to encourage young men to keep fighting and to remind them that God’s word lives in them accompanying them through the struggles and chaos of life. Young men need to be reminded that in the midst of their struggles and chaos, that because of Christ, they have overcome the evil one (1 John 2:13). The message to keep embracing the chaos, with Christ as their example, is paramount for their victory.

The need of ‘fathers’ for both younger men and children in the faith is crucial. It is the task of fathers in the faith to continually develop relational clout with the younger so they too will develop into fathers to encourage the next generation.

In the book of Titus, Paul instructs his younger disciple, Titus, to instruct older men to have six vital qualities in their life. In my next post, I’ll explore these six qualities that older men should be striving to attain so they can help others move towards maturity.

Friday, March 20, 2015

For All Men Over 40 Years Old - Part 2

We Are in This Together
I gave my life to Jesus at the age of 18. I quickly realized I needed a mentor to help guide me in my new faith. I had lots of questions and needed an example of how to live out the faith in Jesus I had embraced. 

My girlfriend, who is now my wife, and I decided to go to the church she attended as a young girl. It was there where I was warmly received by a man many years my senior. He had gray hair and a lot of faithful years of walking with Jesus. I was immediately drawn to him. His name is Dick Harrison and I give great thanks to God that Dick was prepared and ready to sacrifice his time and energy on a young man who needed a mentor. Dick never played sandlot football or racquetball with me and he wasn’t interested in playing Intellivision (first generation video game in the late 1970’s), but he would spend time chatting with me about living for Jesus. He willingly  listened to my struggles and opened the Scriptures to talk about what a godly man looked like. 

Several years later I saw Dick at an event. He had aged a lot and looked more frail but his faith was stronger than ever. As I embraced him, I whispered in his ear just how much he meant to me. I then introduced my friends to him as his spiritual grandchildren and great grandchildren. We sat for a while and I shared with him all that God was doing through my life and how his example to me inspired me years later to pour into young men so they too would walk with Jesus for a lifetime. Dick enjoyed hearing the spiritual stories of the men who were with me. You could see the grateful spirit in his eyes that his efforts of pouring into me were not in vain and in fact was reaping more workers for the harvest.

For many believers, this story of Dick Harrison is not repeated in their lives. In some men, mid-life crisis draws them to focus and invest in what excites their flesh instead of what excites the Spirit of God in them. In my experience, I have found that many young men long to spend time with mature mentors so they can learn what it means to be a godly man.

What do younger men want and need from older men? Here are few thoughts that I have about pouring into younger men in order to help them become godly and to impact their sphere of influence for Jesus.

1. Friendship and Love
Every man needs to know he matters. Every man needs a sense of significance. The culture of parenthood is rapidly shifting in western culture. Many younger men have not had fathers who are deeply engaged, especially spiritually. Younger men often crave friendship from an older man who will spend time with them through their struggles and victories. When an older man chooses to lay down his interests to spend time with a younger man, both feel a sense of significance which helps them to mature further. These times can be deeply spiritual or just plain fun. They can include deep conversations on relationships and temptations or they can take in a ball game together. Friendship, acceptance and love are things every man, young or old, needs.

2. Honesty and Vulnerability
It is common for men to get together and tell exaggerated stories of being a hero or brag of their latest toy purchase. When older men become honest and vulnerable with younger men it gives a sense of permission to admit fears and failures. I often share with younger men how difficult the first years of marriage were or how I had to reel in my heart from lusting for cars, women and more of everything. When I shared my sins and became vulnerable a sense that everything would be okay seems to swell over both of us. Life is hard and we need to walk together but not in the fantasy of being the hero. Rather, we need to admit we are fellow strugglers who need each other. Success in walking with Jesus is faithfulness, not in seeing souls saved or something else to be counted.

3. Stories and Ears
Everyone likes to hear a good story and to tell their own. When we tell our stories to younger men, it gives us a connection that we may not have had before. Hearing stories of wrestling with God through situations in our life, hearing how we deal with not feeling like our faith makes sense, or sharing the blessings of persevering through challenges resulting in greater faith encourages the hearer. Taking the time to hear the heart of a younger man shouts to him that his story matters. We don’t have to have the answers — we know that most often we don’t have any answers, but we have spent a few more years getting to ‘know’ the Father (1 John 2:13-14) and that makes all the difference.

4. Wisdom and Prayer
Younger men often hunger for a deeper understanding of how to be a spiritual leader. I hear many young men asking how to hear from God for themselves. Sharing stories of hearing from God through the Scriptures, in our hearts and through a community of close friends is stimulating. Engaging the mystery of pursuing God in prayer so wisdom emerges is powerful to a younger soul. Living in a way that shows younger men that being godly is really what manliness was meant to be can start a chain reaction to their friends that is unstoppable. 

Recently I told a young man in his 30’s how I prayed for seventeen years about an issue in my life. This touched his heart deeply. Thinking about praying for something that long took his breath away. He came to realize that a sustainable relationship with Jesus, requires perseverance and endurance through a community of close friends.

5. Support and Encouragement
If we are honest, every man gets scared at some points in his heart. When men hit a season of chaos, they often choose to numb the pain with something that seems to offer relief. As we walk with younger men, we can gently point them towards Jesus in the midst of the chaos as any godly father figure would do. Offering seasons and even years of support and encouragement supplies a sense of security for a young man, especially if he has felt abandoned by other father figures or leaders in his life. Encouraging a young men to get back up after a disappointment is vital. Sharing that they can dust off the dirt of life through a relationship with Christ is an astonishing gift we can give to younger men. Hebrews 3:12-13 instructs us to encourage others to get off sinful paths that lead to a turning away from God and instead encouraging them as often as possible (everyday) so they are not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. In a world that tears us down in many ways, we need voices of more seasoned men to speak the truth of perseverance in their lives.

So if you are man over 40, choose to spend time with a younger man and begin a relationship with them. You both will be blessed and our world will become a better place because of your investment. This type of investment will pay much higher dividends than any stock, 401k or hobby (1 Corinthians 3:11-17).

In my next post, I’ll dive into Titus 2:2 and 2 Timothy 2:2 for deeper spiritual implications of pouring our lives into younger men.

Join the conversation if you'd like!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

For Men Over 40 - Part 1

Many things begin to shift about the age of 40 in men. My 40th birthday party was a surprise party, and I have been surprised by many changes that have taken place since. My eye-sight diminished and I began looking for my reading glasses. I developed an aversion to risk where in the past I never thought twice about risk; the diamond runs on ski slopes now look more like an invitation to an accident than an adventure. Since my 40th birthday I’ve noticed younger people looking past me thinking I was less hip than I was earlier in my life. After 40, I began to lose strength and gain weight around my waist. I really don’t like these changes!

Not all things that have shifted have been negative. After 40 I learned to be comfortable not having the answer for everything and able to speak more directly into situations instead of worrying what people thought. I have learned the value of perseverance, I am more focused on investing in people than looking for attention and my tolerance and grace has increased in positive ways. The ability to think twice before speaking is easier and I’m sure more appreciated.

For many men, life after 40 offers a freedom to pursue passions that in the past had been out of reach financially. Often, time becomes a bit more plentiful as our children grow and the empty nest comes into view. Thoughts of retirement or a second career begin to creep into our thoughts as well as the fears of growing old. The experiences of life offer men over 40 insights that most younger men do not yet posses. 

How men embrace the changes in life after 40 determine their impact on the next generation. For some, they will focus on the freedoms their lives beyond 40 afford them and live a more isolated and shallow life of self-pleasure. Hopefully, more men will focus their freedom and experiences to pour into younger men in order to offer guidance and friendship that will expand their influence to future generations.

In a culture that increases the pressure on self and individual passions, the desire to sacrifice for others is diminishing. Men over 40 would do well to help change this direction by both enjoying and enduring the cost of reaching out to younger men and helping them to mature in their faith and life. The Scriptures have much to say about this process of older men investing in younger men. 

In my next post I will explore some Biblical principles that younger men want and need from older men.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

For Men Under 40 Years Old

I relocated my family to Phoenix, Arizona when I was 36 years old. I moved to Phoenix with the idea that I would impact this city in ways no one before me had. If this sounds a little arrogant, it was. I believed I knew what was wrong with previous church planting efforts and I had great plans on how to improve upon the process. I had the world by the tail and I was going to be a trend setter. My mentors were mostly my age and they were cheering me on. Success was around the corner.

Twenty years later, I believe I have been successful. However, the success I envisioned 20 years ago is very different than I had thought. Once we settled in Phoenix, the church we planted grew very quickly and mostly with people who had never had a relationship with Jesus. It grew just enough to give me a sense of accomplishment. But the real journey to success was about to begin. 

My pride regarding my success required severe breaking by the Spirit of God. I had to come face to face with my arrogance and King Jesus to shape me into His image. Stripped of my vision of greatness, God transformed me into Christ’s concept of success - a humble state of servanthood (Matthew 20:20-28).  As I confessed my self-centeredness, I desired to learn to lead the way Jesus lead His followers. I learned several lessons on leading as a younger men from Titus 2:6-10.

Here are a few of the lessons from Titus 2:6-10. My hope is that young men under 40 will apply them to their own story. If these few short lessons are of some benefit to you, I will have accomplished my goal for this article.

In Paul's letter to Titus, he is concerned that the church to be strong, mature and fighting against false leaders who claimed to know more than they did (Titus 1:16, 2:15, 3:3-6). In the middle of his letter to Titus, Paul addressed the young men of Crete with powerful insights for Titus to share with them so they would be strong and mature in their faith in Jesus.

Paul begins by instructing Titus to 'urge' the young men to be “sensible”. To be sensible is to be self-controlled, not impulsive, arrogant or running unchecked in the direction their heart is leading. I believe it is very normal for young men to see themselves as warriors, capable of anything and of doing it with passion. It is this passion which moves younger men to pick up a cause or to join the military in order to make a difference.

What if young men could have the attitude of a warrior and yet be self-controlled or sensible? To be sensible would be to seek out godly council and apply that wisdom instead of thinking they know better. This requires young men to willfully choose to submit to older godly men who will help harness their warrior like attitude to learn submission to King Jesus and love others more than themselves.

Young men need to be 'urged' to take on this controlled submission as warriors to King Jesus and His ways. In order to urge young men to be sensible, there must be a deep relationship with seasoned leaders who will encourage them to greatness. Young men need seasoned mentors to point out their strengths and encourage them forward as well as love them enough to point out where they are lacking in submission or self-control to the King. How many pitfalls would be avoided if this type of relationship was more common. It requires humility on both the seasoned veteran and young warrior. The seasoned veterans need to humbly lay down his warrior status and trade it in for being a mentor. The young men need to humbly recognize that although they have the strength to push through, they need wisdom their life experiences have not yet afforded them.

As a young man beginning a new church, I was not always “sensible”. I would often say things impetuously just to be provocative. I would use sharp rhetoric regarding church structures that I have since had to seek forgiveness for in my later years. Having seasoned men around when we are young is helpful so that as young men we are exposed to mature responses and faithful obedience. 

Paul then turns his attention to Titus; who himself was likely a younger man, and instructs him to be an example of “good deeds”. In Titus 1:16 we learn that some poor leaders professed “…to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.” In order to be an example of good deeds, one must learn to put others first; to seek what is best for them. Young men are more likely to boast about their abilities and have a “do it myself” attitude. When we are in strong relationships with seasoned veterans, putting other’s needs before their own, dreams begin to emerge. As young men begin to learn this valuable life trait, they become more powerful than they had ever imagined.

Young men need to have purity in doctrine. Doctrine is a set of truths about God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, etc., that effect how we live. Doctrines are not simply knowledge, they cause transformation of our souls. Having a correct or pure doctrine is vital for young men. A simple reading of Titus teaches us that correct doctrine is more about how ones life measures against the principles of Scripture rather than having clear understanding of theology. Both are important but living out what correct doctrine requires is better than simply knowing the Word. "Faith without works is dead.” Young men must apply themselves to having a correct or pure understanding of the Scriptures which becomes a life-long endeavor.

Young men should be dignified. It is a holy call of God on young men to take seriously their handling of the Scriptures. A stout submission to the authority of the Scriptures is vital to learn as young as possible. Following through on responsibilities taken up or given to young men should be done thoroughly and thoughtfully. Listening to other’s concerns and creating an atmosphere of unity is vital for communities of saints. 

Young men should also be careful in their speech. Our words are important and set an example for others to follow. Do our words honor and encourage people? Words are powerful and have the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). Our words are to draw others to a more holy way of livings (Colossians 4:6). This is such a serious trait to develop that Paul teaches us that we should “…not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29).

These are some qualities that young men should be urged to have: sensible, good deeds, pure doctrine, careful in their speech. If more young men would strive to gain these traits and draw close to seasoned veterans in their following of Christ, how strong would our churches be? 

If you are under 40 years old, embrace your strength and warrior like abilities and learn to harness them sensibly in relationship with a few seasoned veterans. You’ll find yourself more powerful than you can ever accomplish purely on your youthfulness alone.

I would love to hear your thoughts on what I have written so jump into the conversation!