Stand firm, act like men. Do all in … what?

Yesterday when reading the Bible I came across one of my favorite Bible verses. In 1 Corinthians Paul is trying to encourage the church and he says something that many men’s Bible studies have memorized.

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (‭1 Corinthians ‭16‬:‭13‬ ESV)

This is an awesome verse. I can just see someone like William Wallace, a great warrior, standing in front of an army while waiting to be ambushed.

Face painted, looking fierce, walk back and forth in front of his army. Trying to encourage his men and give them the courage to stand through the night he starts to shout. “Be watchful,” he says, staring the men in the eyes as he passes by them in the chill night air. “Stand firm in faith,” he says, “act like men!” Then pulling out his claymore and pointing it towards the direction of the enemy army he yells “Be strong!”

You can hear the strength in his voice and all of the men shout, feeling fearless as they follow this warrior.

This is just such a great passage that really encourages men to stand apart, not to fall, and be warriors. Don’t fall into pornography, it’s a trap! Be watchful of your actions, of what your eyes wonder too. Watch what your family does and stand strong for them. Lead them. Because this is what a man is supposed to do!

And then I read the next verse and it kind of shattered this whole image of William Wallace.

Let all that you do be done in love. (‭1 Corinthians ‭16‬:‭14‬ ESV)

For some reason I just can’t see any strong warrior shouting this at the end of their battle cry. As men, we love to be strong, watchful, courageous. These are qualities we look up to in others and hope to have in ourselves.

But love? That doesn’t describe a warrior. You don’t see Navy SEALS talking about love. So why is Paul putting these statements together?

God obviously thinks that loving others is of supreme importance. Jesus tells us to love our enemie (Matthew 5:44) and tells us that loving God, and loving others, are the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:36-40).

Then God gives us the ultimate example of love in the cross, where God did not conquer evil, but gave His only Son to die in the place of those who are rebelling against Him. Why? As John 3:16 says, Because God so loved.

Paul makes it clear that it doesn’t matter how faithful of a follower of God you are, or how awesome of a warrior you are, if you don’t have love and act out of love then you are nothing.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (‭1 Corinthians ‭13‬:‭1-3‬ ESV)

Trying to live our daily lives interacting with so many people is tough. We get short with our spouses because, often times because of pride. We start to get frustrated or angry at our kids, neighbors, or coworkers. And yet these very people are our mission field. We are called to be Christ to them. To love them.

In every interaction, no matter how difficult it is, we are told to love them.

Be strong, Christian brother. Stay strong in faith. Be watchful and ever vigilant. Act like men, and let all that you do be done in love.

Men and the Decline of Marriage in the US

This is a brief editorial on a pressing issue in United States culture: Sexual Purity.

A February 2012 NY Times article “Young Mothers Describe Marriage’s Fading Allure,” suggests the attraction of marriage is not what it once was for many young mothers.

My heart broke at the resounding theme of this article: women do not trust men. What a sad thing, but is that surprising in a society where dating produces children more often than fathers?

Traditional marriage was a cultural standard in the US, but that is changing. According to the article cited above, the national figure for children born outside of marriage is 53%.

Premarital sex and child birth are now normative.
The basic unit of society is the family, which is being crippled by cultural practices of casual sex.
I would like to propose a partial solution to this epidemic problem can be found in Scripture:

“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”
-Hebrews 13:4 ESV

Men in our society are failing women at a basic moral level.

Sure, there’s enough guilt to go around, but according to scripture, God made men to lead.

Leaders are trend setters, so to alter a trend, leaders must act first.
A paradigm shift is required to change what is happening in our culture.
I argue that the weight of it lies on the shoulders of men first.

If we want to see change as a culture, men need to commit to sexual purity in all categories at all levels.

Imagine the change created by a situation where women did not feel pressured to have sex before marriage?
Imagine the respect inherently communicated in that situation.

How would that change things?
I think it would change a lot of things.

Please join me this week in praying for the sexual purity of the men you know.

God Built: Forged by God – Book Review

I have heard a lot of good things about Steve Farrar but never personally read one of his books until now.  God Built: Forged by God, in the Bad and Good of Life is a very interesting and thought provoking book.

This book goes in depth into the life of Joseph and looks at why each event in his life happened.  From his betrayal by his brothers, to being sold into slavery, to being a chief slave, to being thrown into prison, to being handed the keys of Egypt, Joseph had a life of more downs than ups.  But Joseph acknowledged that everything in his life was orchestrated by God.  Which gets to the main point of this book, the sovereignty and providence of God.

“But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. … And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God;” Genesis 45:5,7-8

This book challenged my beliefs on how much God is in control of every detail of our life, and every event, even the bad ones.  It has challenged my views that God does not just allow bad things to happen, but He put them there.

Praising God in the storm

Many will get offended and defensive when I say that, but those are usually the same people who sing that it is “God who gives, and takes away.”  This is a belief that we have acknowledged but never really thought through the implications of.

It is God who gives and takes away; He has a purpose for everything, we just need to learn to accept it and keep following Him regardless of if we see the good in a situation or not.  God had a purpose to allow Joseph to go through what he went through, and He has a purpose for what we are going through.

Take for example the Jasper family.  One day while the father was playing around with his five year old son their go cart flipped over, killing Cooper, the five year old boy.  Along with all of the pain that goes with loosing a child they never took their eyes off of God. They knew that it happened because God wanted it to happen, and this freed them to worship God even in the darkest of moments instead of tearing their family apart with anger towards God or blaming each other.  (Check out their story made into a documentary)

Working for God

Having a better understanding of who God is and how God controls everything also helps us in our day to day life, not just during the bad times.  When working at a job, God put us in that job, if we like it or not we are still working for God so we need to give it our best.

Joseph was literally a slave, but he worked hard to serve God and he ended up becoming the top slave in the house, in control of everything.  Then he got demoted, sent to prison, but his attitude and willingness to serve God meant that he was recognized by the jailer and was put in charge over his area of the prison.

When God puts us in our own dirty jobs, even for years at a time, we need to endure it with a positive, Godly attitude.  That will help us learn the lesson that God may have for us in those situations, and it will be a good witness to those around us that God may want us to minister to.

God’s Control… and Evil

One of the questions that is often brought up when discussing this topic is if God is in control of everything, then that means He made sin and makes us sin.  Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones has an answer for this, which is explained in a bit more detail in the book.

The great problem is this: if God does govern and control everything, then what is his relationship to sin? All I can do, in answer, is to lay down a number of propositions that are clearly taught in Scripture.

The first is that sinful acts are under divine control, and occur only by God’s permission and according to his ultimate purpose (Genesis 45:8).

The second is that God restrains and controls sin (Psalm 76:10).

The third is that God overrules sin for good (Genesis 50:20).

My last proposition is that God never causes sin, nor approves of it, He only permits, directs, restrains, limits, and overrules it.  People alone are responsible for their sin (James 1:13-15).

You are built by God

All of this is meant to show you that you are built by God, the way you are and the plans He has for you in the future.  It is about us being men, manning up to our responsibilities and living how God wants us to live, because He built us for a purpose.

Your past mistakes and hardships were not mistakes, they were engineered by God to make you who you are.

I would recommend this book to most people, and at only $8 for the hard back at Amazon it is in a price range for most people as well.  So pick it up!

Courageous – Movie Review

In 2007 while browsing through a Christian bookstore I found a movie that touched my life.  The movie was Facing the Giants.  I resisted the movie at first because it is a football movie, and being a geek means I am not really much of a sports fan.  But I gave the movie a chance, and I am glad I did, that movie touched my life and encouraged me to put God first once again in my life.

Sherwood Pictures, the group that created the movie, just came out with another movie this month in theaters called Courageous: Honor Begins at Home.

The Message

The message of the movie is an important one.  It focuses on the man’s responsibility to his children and wife, and how important that relationship is.  The men in the movie are like any of us, imperfect fathers from all walks of life.  Men who suck at being a father and men who are doing a good enough job.  The men get to a point in their life where they decide “good enough” is not really good enough, and they seek to change.

Stephen Kendrick, one of the movie’s producers stated the mission they have for the movie during an interview.  He said “We want to challenge men to forgive their dads, their dads wounded them, or provided poor example for them. And them seek God as their father and then step up to spiritual leadership. We can change the world if we can get dads to step up and disciple and lead this next generation.”

Story Elements

The story is very engaging and emotional for all audiences.  There is action, humor, tragedy, and redemption.  The characters are very believable and the actors are good.  Despite the fact that this movie is made by a church congregation, it has all the elements and look of a Hollywood blockbuster, but with a strong Christian message.

I went to the movie during a weekday so there were not a lot of people there, maybe a dozen or so sitting all around me.  Throughout the movie, in every direction, were people laughing, and even sobbing.  (I was too, but don’t tell anybody)  That tells me the entire audience really engaged and connected with characters and the story in a deeply emotional way.

Go see it!

Courageous, I would say, is an epic film.  You need to see it.  The message given make this far exceed any entertainment available today.  It will encourage families to take a more courageous stand in their family, even if it is not easy.  It will encourage men to want to do the right thing in their marriages and with their children, and will show them how it is possible.

And while you are at it, go see Sherwood Picture’s other movies available on DVD.  Flywheel, Facing the Giants, and Fireproof.

Courageous, the book

After seeing the movie, get the book.  There are two books, The Resolution for Men, and a companion book The Resolution for Women.  I have The Resolution for Men at home sitting at the top of my book pile, so I will be reading it soon.  As soon as I finish it I will write a review for you guys.  However, based on the quality of Biblical work Sherwood puts out I would say you do not need to wait for my review to get the book and read it.

If anybody has read The Resolution for Women, please write a small review and send it to us.  Email it to Info@EternalTruthMinistry.com.

What are your thoughts?

Have you seen the movie yet?  What are your thoughts?  Post a comment below telling me how this movie has impacted you and your family!