Men Stepped Up, Ray Ortlund, and Monday Morning Momentum

Author’s note & pet peccadillo:
     Today, apart from being incredibly grateful to Ray Ortlund for His obedience to God in writing such a timely post as we’ll dive briefly into, I also can’t resist the temptation to play Spelling Nazi. Kelly Talamo named the environment “Men Step Up”, because in his words “lives change when men ‘step up’ to the Truth”. 


     I can’t tell you how many times I hear people ask “Hey, are you going to Men’s Step Up this week?” Okay, I can, I’ll just wind up gritting my teeth into dust… You get the point… I’ll step down off the soap box and put away my red pen. It’s not like I don’t occasionally invent my own words or brutally murder a rule or two of decent, English grammar…

   
Spurring One Another On…

What happens at the tables never
stays at the tables. Praise God!

     This past Friday morning, I had the opportunity to “bring it” at Men Step Up, Gwinnett. Essentially that means I was tasked with standing up in front of a crowd of guys, (many of whom intimidate the heck out of me from a spiritual standpoint), and “provoking” them toward a discussion that would take place at their tables.
     These weekly discussions are proctored by a table leader and outlined by about 4 or 5 questions on the front of an index card (see picture, right). The back side of the card will normally have a lie on it that many of us have either bought into, wrestled with in real life, or both, as well as a few select lines from scripture that either individually or collectively debunk the lie.

Men Step Up is a gathering where the lies of the enemy collide with the truth of God’s word. For more information,
go to http://www.menstepupgwinnett.com/

     If you’ve been reading the blog at all last week (Part 1, Part 2), you know we’ve been talking about the context for current struggle, trial, aggravation, etc. as a lead up to that event. I had planned to present this morning’s post as a combined update/devotional on the topic. However, it seems the day after I spoke, Ray Ortlund posted an article that capped off our discussion perfectly in a mere 20 sentences.

     So, here it is in its entirety with a brief send off from me at the end:

(Please, visit Ray’s blog from time to time at this link: Ray Ortlund. Original post here.)
     “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.  Let your garments be always white.  Let not oil be lacking on your head.  Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.”  Ecclesiastes 9:7-9
     We could take any of three approaches to the daily experience of this earthly life.
     One, this present experience is all we have, our only chance at a little happiness.  But absolutizing this life puts enormous pressure on us, intensifying our desperation and pushing us toward doing stupid things.  Worse, it cuts us off from the endless love of God in Christ.
     Two, this present experience is a stepping-stone into eternity, which is all that matters even now.  This broken world is more to be endured than enjoyed.  Indeed, this world and everything about it are an embarrassment to any serious person.
     Three, this present experience is brief, non-ultimate and good.  While it lasts, it is to be dignified — not absolutized or despised but dignified — as a gift from God.  This life is a mixture of grace and tragedy, a good creation marred by our human folly.  So, the wise seek the things that are above, where Christ is (Colossians 3:1), and they receive with thanksgiving the good things God gives here and now (1 Timothy 4:1-5).
     The first approach is the unbelief of visceral idolatry.  The second approach is the unbelief of pious negativism.  The third approach is wisdom.  It is biblical, humane, sustainable.
Have a good day.

Be Encouraged:
     The fact that Ray & I have never met and yet he wrote the perfect synopsis of what we were talking about on the very same day, he’s dead on point here. In last week’s post and our discussion at Men Step Up, we concluded that eternal rewards are the context for current suffering, that current rewards are no indicator of eternal and Godly appreciation, and that when it comes to rewards, we have a three tiered “compensation plan”:

  1. One time paycheck: “Atta boy!!!” (remarkably temporary, a la Matt. 6:2, Matt 6:5, Matt 6:16)
  2. Royalties only: “I will repay each of you according to your deeds.” (see Rev. 2 & 3) or
  3. Earthly Reward and Eternal 401K: “do everything without arguing or complaining. (Phil. 2:14)”, “Enjoy life… (Ecc. 9:8)” and “I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (Rev. 2:23b)” 

     I was amazed at how pertinent this message was for the guys in attendance, at that moment. It may well be pertinent to you right now. Regardless of its relevance in your current season of life, this is a topic neither you nor I will fully grasp in a handful of blog posts or even conversations with godly men and women – this is one of those things that requires the illuminative power of the Holy Spirit to make clear and present in our everyday mindset. It may also require diligent and thirsty searching of the scriptures.

     Be encouraged, be spurred on, and be aware: That Day is coming when we will all receive rewards at the judgment seat of Christ. May your inheritance be great and may you enjoy this life and the one to come.

in Christ,

AP

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