Tag Archives: Men Step Up
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:
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”:
- One time paycheck: “Atta boy!!!” (remarkably temporary, a la Matt. 6:2, Matt 6:5, Matt 6:16)
- Royalties only: “I will repay each of you according to your deeds.” (see Rev. 2 & 3) or
- 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.
|Want one of these in your 401K?|
Context is King.
But, Jesus is the King of Kings and He offers not only salvation for those who believe, but also some desperately needed context for our worldview.
Trials and troubles and annoyances and tragedies exist. No getting around that in a Genesis 3 world. So, Jesus gave us a heads-up – “In this life, you will have troubles.” But, what is the context in which we are to interpret these troubles? In chapter 15 of John’s gospel, Jesus has just spent a bunch of time telling his disciples some bad news: the world is going to hate them “for no reason (John 15:25)”. Then He moves forward into the “you will have trouble” part of the speech. As if the “they’re going to hate you” part wasn’t bad enough, He explains two things:
- “I’m telling you this so you won’t get freaked out when it happens. I’m giving you a heads-up now that I’m on my way out.” (John 16:1 – paraphrased)
- “It’s going to be so bad, people are going to try to kill you because of me, thinking by killing you they’re serving Me.” (John 16:2-4 – paraphrased) “So, what do you guys want for dessert?”
Can we skip to the end of the story? For some context?
The End That Satisfies the Means
Here’s why “the end of a matter is better than its beginning… (Ecc 7:8)”: At the “end of the story” – Revelation 2 & 3, where God dictates seven letters for John to address to the seven churches in Asia Minor, Jesus reminds them who He is. “I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (v. 23)… To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations (v. 26)” At the Bema seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5.10), believers in Christ will receive their eternal rewards, including many crowns promised throughout scripture.
Bottom line – in a world where trouble is the everyday landscape of our walk, everything you and I do [within God’s will for us and that’s not done with selfish motive (Mt. 6:2, Mt. 6:5, Mt. 6:16)] will be repaid with eternal reward.
So, here’s the compensation structure when it comes to persevering under trial:
- Get paid now – “Atta boy!!!” (remarkably temporary)
- Get paid in eternity – “I will repay each of you according to your deeds.” or
- Both – “do everything without arguing or complaining. (Phil. 2:14)” and “I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (Rev. 2:23b)”
We’ve been warned. We’ve been told it won’t be easy, but given the Holy Spirit to guide, empower, and protect us. We’ve been given the context of our trials, persecution, and our eternal rewards. We can take the recognition from men now or we can take a rain check in our eternal 401K. What would you prefer, a compliment that lasts a little while or a portfolio that lasts forever?
If you’re a man within 30 minutes of California Dreaming in Duluth, GA – do whatever you have to do to get there tomorrow morning (Friday, 05.11.2012) at 6:30 for Men Step Up. There, we’ll be thinking out loud about the lies of the enemy and the truth that sets men free, specifically this stuff. Hope to see you there!
When you work hard, you expect to get paid. Maybe it’s a bonus or commission. Maybe you’re on salary and you’re hoping your effort will count toward a raise or promotion. Maybe you’re trying to win points with your spouse or significant other. Whatever you were doing, if you’re like me, you’re expecting a return on your efforts, right? But, what happens when the finish line gets moved and you’re asked to wait for your reward “a little longer”, “til next quarter”, or not at all? Worse, what happens when you do what was expected (or more than that) and you don’t get a reward at all? Instead you get reprimanded, criticized, publicly humiliated, or the recognition not only goes to someone else but you’re also dragged across the coals for all of your other faults and foibles?
Now, that’s a pain.
|Spur. Ouch. Now, THAT’LL
move you to action, won’t it!?
True statement. Men don’t like to talk about pain unless it’s a “you think that’s bad, lemme tell ya what happentaME” contest. The bible has a lot of words for this that men don’t like to discuss – heartsick, heartbreak, affliction, sorrow. Women, you’re easy, you’ll talk about your hurts, your pains, your disappointments with little or no provocation. But, this message is for you, too. I’m just picking on the guys, because… I am one and I know we men need to be prodded and “spurred”, as the bible says.
Women, (especially wives), you’re probably really good at tolerating certain “guy” things, like tools and mechanical things that make a man’s eyes light up when he walks into Home Depot. Thank you, for that. If you’re a (stereo)typical “I need my space clean.” woman, you’re a woman who can relate to a tool men might have in their toolbox: scouring tools like rasps, grinders, and sandpaper. In my kitchen, both Cristine and I go through tons of those yellow and green scrubby pads because I’m a cooker and she’s a cleaner and sometimes stuff gets STUCK on that stove.
With all the prolonged rewards in life, the toxic, critical workplace scenarios, withheld commissions, heartbreak, sorrow, etc., we all need a little perspective from time to time to carry us through the disappointment. Cristine and I were reading about it in Ecclesiastes and have been experiencing Holy Momentum as a result.
Roll over this link to read (Ecc. 7:2-6). In the midst of all the trials our 14 year old daughter has been going through (and she’s really digging in right now and doing the hard work, Praise God!), we went to the scriptures with a “God, we’ve gotta hear from you” attitude, and He popped verse 3 right off the page:
“Crying is better than laughing.
It blotches the face but it scours the heart. (MSG)”
Hey, what happens when you scour something? Doesn’t it get cleaner? I didn’t put those tires on the car so I could look at brake dust, I bought them because I wanted the tire. When I scour away the brake dust, I get to the thing I wanted in the first place – the shine, the polish, the good stuff.
One of the keys to finding purpose in the pain is not ignoring the pain, not minimizing the injustice, rather knowing that God is using pain to refine us. I know, I don’t want to hear that junk, either. But, for us, as we watch our Brie-brie dig through vague layers of superficial anger and get into more specific feelings like “anxiety”, “betrayal”, and “hurt”, we are deeply encouraged to know that the obscuring facade is being scoured away. Someday, maybe not next week or next quarter, we will see the fruit of the scrubby pad/sand paper/sadness.
In every life there is disappointment, payment withheld, kindness returned with injury. It happens like this in a Genesis 3 world. The great news is, we will all be rewarded for our perseverance in trial. God has not forgotten you or me or… them, the offenders of the faithful. He is watching and will reward us. This week, I’ll be opening up a conversation with a big bunch of burly men of God at Men Step Up, Gwinnett on this very topic. If you want to join us, we’d love to have you. Comment or email us for details and come ready to collide with the truth.
“As I traveled and made watching raunchy movies and self gratification my habit, I believed that what I was doing was not as bad as other guys who were actually sleeping with women outside of marriage. At times, I even thought my actions were a safeguard from doing something physical with someone else.”
“She kept asking and I kept answering. At one point she said, ‘I wish you had gone ahead and had a physical affair. What you did was Coward’s Adultery!’ ” Moral of the story: the measure of a man’s bravery is the price he’s willing to pay for the things his heart is set on.
I’ve also posted regarding my interview with Michael here on our blog today. I also encourage you, as you explore this issue to watch Andy Stanley’s second message in the “New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating” series, linked in that article. Bottom line, we all give our lives to something. It’s time we start doing the difficult stuff instead of settling for the easy fixes. God rewards obedience. Sometimes in the earthly realm, but more importantly in eternity. Consider what price you’re willing to pay as you “take up [your] cross and follow [Him]”.
What do you think of when you hear the words “Judgment Day”? A Terminator movie? A meanie, cosmic judge out to get you with an earth-sized gavel? A grueling grill-session where you have to “splain yourself” in front of a tribune of angels and the Trinity? A fantastic awards show leading up to a massive celebration of the glory and greatness of God?
Only the last answer comes close to what the bible most clearly teaches that we will be “rewarded”, “repaid”, or “recompensed” for what we’ve done in the body “whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5.9-10) The bad news is “judgment day is coming”. The good news is “judgment day is coming”! For those who are in Christ, it will be an amazing day when rewards, positions, and crowns will be given out by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
In April, Men Step Up (Gwinnett) will take four weeks to celebrate 5 years of ministry at the ugly crack of dawn in the beautiful setting of the restaurant “California Dreaming”. The night of their last day of that celebration will be punctuated by the coolest date night ever. Rock-star quality worship singer Rolin Williamson will take the stage at Crosspointe Church in Duluth, GA and play the opening song for a production of “That Day”, a 2 act, 1 man show about Dan Matthewson, a guy who gets to meet Jesus at the judgment seat.
This show has played to packed houses from Alpharetta to Gainesville and is already being looked at for later performances in the year (as far away as Dallas, TX – Glory to God!!!) It’s been highly acclaimed not only for its entertainment value, but for its impact on the faith of those who have seen it. Seasons of Life Ministries is very excited to partner with Jesus Spoken Here Ministries and Men Step Up Gwinnett to give you a look at what that day might be like when we all come face to face with Jesus. Entertaining, encouraging, exhorting… and God gets all the glory. NICE!
Tickets are now on sale – $50 each, which includes dinner (catered by California Dreaming), the music, and the show. There will also be valuable ministry takeaway for everyone in attendance. A couple of things to know, though – this is a great environment to bring someone you know who’s “unchurched” or wrestling with their faith. It’s also an event we’re hoping to use to minister to those in ministry – a few local pastors and lay leaders from other local ministries.
In this, we could use your help, and I know this month I’ve added a lot of “would you consider”s to the blog. But, would you consider helping us to scholarship a few people to this event? We know $50 is pretty steep for a ticket. We also know there’s a lot of value in return. But, regardless of return, if you ain’t got $50, you ain’t got it. Our hopes are to raise $400 to $500 to not only scholarship a few needy couples in the door for a great date night, but we’d also like to foot the bill for their babysitter that night (unless you’d like to volunteer – which we’d welcome you to do!). So, there it is, another “consider” for you to consider! Would you consider it?
For more info on “That Day”, go to “www.thatday.info“. Yeah, that was easy to remember!