Welcome to REAL Men RoCK

This blog is about the issues men face and things I have experienced.

I hope you will be encouraged, challenged, and stirred to take action.

Proverbs 27:17 (The Message)

17 You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another


ighteous   E ncouraging   A ccountable   L oving 


ely on    C hrist's   K indness

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I Can Tell Where Your Heart Is by.....

Several years ago I was at a business convention and a speaker said the following: "I can tell where your heart is by looking at your calendar and your checkbook." Where you spend your time and how you spend your money reflects where your heart is.

I went home and looked at my checkbook and my calendar to determine what he was talking about. Here is what I found: I was giving at least 10% of my income to my church but I was spending more time in trying to build a business and make money than I was in serving others.

I do not believe it is wrong to develop wealth or to spend time in recreational activities. Besides what I believe or think is not important but what God says about how you spend your time and money is. So let's look at a few scriptures from the Word of God to see what He commands us to do.

1 Timothy 6: 10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang.

Today there are those who would say that the desire to prosper is wrong but God says the love of the money produced by this drive is what is wrong.

In Malachi 3: 8-10 God challenges us in the use of the first 10% of our income. 8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How have we robbed You? In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this, "says the Lord of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows."

That was God speaking to the nation of Israel and although I do not believe we are bound by having to give 10% of our income I do believe that the principle of giving is still valid for the church today.

Let's look at Paul told the church at Corinth about giving: 2 Corinthians 9: 6-7 Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.

In Genesis 1: 28 God told Adam and Eve to God blessed them: "Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth."

In Ephesians 4: 28 Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can't work.

God is not against Christians or anyone else creating wealth but He is against Greed! and He wants us to give out of our abundance to help others.

When I took the challenge to looked at my checkbook and calendar I found I was giving 10% of my Gross Income to my church but I was not giving of my time in service to others.

Let's look at some scriptures about helping others.

James 1: 26-27 Anyone who sets himself up as "religious" by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

Ouch! The challenge revealed I was talking a good game but I had no action in my life. But it got worse when I read Matthew 25: 31-46 I was convicted by my lack of service. In these verses Jesus tells us when He returns some who thought they were following Him will be separated with those who did not follow Him. They will be shocked. And He will then tell them why: verses 41-43 "Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.'

44"Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?'

45"He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'

I sank in my chair as I realized I spent more time having fun than I did serving. I cared more about my own problems than I did the problems of others. I did not hear when others hurt because I was so self focused. I decided that I would work on changing this.

I now want to challenge you to take a look at your checkbook and your calendar and consider what they reveal. I am not saying you need to give 10% to your church or to charity and I am not saying you should spend more time serving others than doing anything else. I am only challenging you to consider what your checkbook and your calendar reveal about what your priorities are. Where is your time and money being spent? It will more than likely show you where your heart is. If you are more focused on pleasing yourself then maybe, just maybe you need to do what I did and begin to make some changes. It is not important what I believe or say about how you spend your time and money but what God has to say is.

Listen to what Jesus says: Matthew 19-21"Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being."

Please share with me your thoughts on this subject. Did God speak to you through this post?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Small Group Big Ideas

My wife, Kat, and I started a new home group today in our small town of Louisburg, KS. Right now we have two other couples coming and tonight we talked about what each of us hopes will be the results of our group.

I went over what I plan for the structure of the group to be and the guidelines for the group. The teaching part will be 10-15 minutes and the discussion and sharing will be 30-40 minutes followed by fellowship of 20 minutes.

My guidelines are simple:
1. Respect each other
2. Sharing is encouraged but not mandatory
3. What is shared in the groups stays within the group.

Some of the goals we set for the group where:
1. No matter what the topic or book we study always refer back to the Bible as our guide and authority. Be open to the Holy Spirit moving the group to where He wants us to be on any given night.
2. Build group with the idea in mind of developing new leaders for new groups.
3. Do service projects to meet the needs of those in community who less fortunate than we are.
4. Have the small group at the park now and then giving away hot dogs to those at the park.
5. Go to local nursing homes and visit those who reside there.
6. End every meeting focusing by praying about the needs of those in the group.

Most of you do not live in our area and you may be asking what does this post have to do with me? This group is beginning with 3 couples but we have set BIG goals. What this post has to do with you is to encourage you to move beyond where you are today. Set Big Goals for yourself and for those you are involved with.

The problems in your community or in your church can be solved if you will do three things:
1. Lay them before God in prayer.
2. Agree as a group or as an individual that you will use your gifts and talents to help better the situation. Be a part of the solution not the problem.
3. Plan Big Goals and then seek the involvement of the Holy Spirit to make them come about.
4. Do not, do not give up. If you fail get up and try again.

Now go light your world.

Peer Pressure

This may not seem to be an adult subject but bear with me for a few minutes.

First let's define Peer Pressure, second show how adults can bend to Peer Pressure, and third let's look at what God's word says about Peer Pressure.

Defining Peer Pressure (from Dealing With Peer Pressure at Kids Health)
Peers influence your life, even if you don't realize it, just by spending time with you. You learn from them, and they learn from you. It's only human nature to listen to and learn from other people in your age group. Peers can have a positive influence on each other. Maybe another student in your science class taught you an easy way to remember the planets in the solar system, or someone on the soccer team taught you a cool trick with the ball. You might admire a friend who is always a good sport and try to be more like him or her. Maybe you got others excited about your new favorite book, and now reading it. These are examples of how peers positively influence each other every day. Sometimes peers influence each other in negative ways. For example, a few kids in school might try to get you to cut class with them, your soccer friend might try to convince you to be mean to another player and never pass her the ball, or a kid in the neighborhood might want you to with him. Another great site for teens about battling Peer Pressure is No Cussing Club.

Peer Pressure is not only a problem for teens but also for adults. Just look at any major sporting event. People paint their hair, their faces or in some cases with men their chest with the color of their favorite team. More seriously people steal, cheat or get involved in immoral relationships because of peer pressure. People joins groups, churches or clubs because of peer pressure. People even vote for their elected officials because of peer pressure.

Let's look at what God has to say about giving in to Peer Pressure. In Romans 12 Paul tells us the following: 2 "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Earlier in Romans 8 Paul tells us what we are to be comformed to: 29 "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;"

Our sermon today at Vineyard Church was on James 1: 19-27 and I want to share verse 27 with you. "This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world."

I once heard someone say that he could tell exactly where your heart is by looking at your checkbook and calendar. By where you spend your money and where you send your time he could tell what your priorities in life are.

I think I could tell who puts peer pressure on you by looking at the sites you visit and the emails you send. The question for you and for me is are you being pressured by others or by the Holy Spirit?

If you are being pressured to do things that do not bring glory to God then I encourage you to change who your friends are. When that peer pressure is coming from within lean on this verse: 2 Timothy 1: 7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

The pressure coming from within is sometimes the hardest to battle because it is based on wounds that we have received and we are pressured to medicate them when we hurt. God promises to comfort us through His Holy Spirit if we will just lean on Him (John 14: 16-18 and John16: 7-12).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Whose you are makes who you are

Have you ever thought about who you belong to? Some of us belong to a country club. Some to the YMCA or an athletic club. So of us belong to a bunko group. We might belong to a church, a small group or a civic organization. We often get our identity from the group or groups we belong to. And some of us belong to no group at all and we have gotten our identity from what others have said we were.

For years I allowed what others said or thought about me make me who I was. Then I read this, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a Holy Nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 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." 1 Peter 2: 9-10

When I read that I saw myself in a new light. No longer was I that shy, backward, tongue tied guy. No longer was I that guy who would be nothing but average. No longer was I that person who did not deserve anything better than what I had. I was chosen to be God's own possession and He did not make or own junk. I was more valuable than anything in His creation.

I began to learn how to give speeches. I learned how to step out of my shyness and make new friends and even become a leader. I was no longer average but growing into a person seeking God's heart.

I was able to change because first I realized whose I was and after I read 2 Timothy 1: 7, "For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline." I began to use the Holy Spirit to grow out of who I use to be.

If you find yourself stuck in an identity that you do not want to stay in I encourage you to focus on the two verse I quoted above. Dig deeper and discover whose you are and how much that being loves you. Earnestly seek His Spirit and watch how your life changes day by day as you submit to the one who has called you be His possession.

If you are not yet a follower of Jesus find someone who you can trust to share with you the Good News of the Kingdom of God.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A baby cried

Last night as I was doing my job I heard a baby cry. I came around the corner and there was a baby of about 4 months old crying for whatever reason babies cry. A while later I was in another area of the building and I heard what I thoughts was the same baby crying and I peeked around the display to find a different baby. Same cry, different baby, one was a white baby and the other Indian.

I instantly thought about Matthew 18: 1-6
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And He called a child to Himself and set him before them and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever them humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea."

I would imagine that God looks at the human condition hearing the cries of mankind just as the parents of the babies I observed last night. Each was trying to comfort their crying baby. Around the world mankind is crying out for healing for their ailments. That healing and comfort will not come from another man.

There is only one way to enter the Kingdom of God and receive healing for what ails us. John 14: 6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father, but through Me."

We are all crying the same cry and there is one who hears and who will solve all of our problems. For now we can find temporary answers in the Word of God called the Bible.

Think about this the next time you hear a baby cry and thank God for His unfailing love for all of mankind.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Don't Give Up and Give In

James 1: 12 Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.

I once heard that it isn't important what happens to us but what happens in us when things happen to us.

For years I reacted to the circumstances that life brought my way which almost always placed me in an even more challenging position. I was either running away from relationships or failing in them.

When I became a Christian in 1982 after 32 years of running and failing I began to place trust in God to move me forward in life. I slowly began to grow up in the faith of Jesus. I spent 17 years growing but never getting beyond my past failures. In 1999 at the age of 49 I began to attend the Vineyard Church in Overland Park, Kansas. I discovered a relationship with my savior and a deeper involvement with the Holy Spirit. Over the past 10 years I have received healing for all of my wounds and failures.

Today's sermon by Mark Warner based on James 1: 12-16 brought it home for me. I no longer always give up and give in. I encourage you to visit the Vineyard Church sermon page and listen to this sermon.

I believe Nick Vujicic is a great example of what it is like to be a possessor of the faith and not a professor of the faith.

The words of Winston Churchill are a perfect way to end this post.

"Never Give In"
"This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."

—HarrowSchool, 29 October 1941. It is commonly believed that Churchill stood up, gave the three-word speech, "Never give in!," and sat down. This is incorrect, as is the suggestion, variously reported, that the speech occurred at Oxfordor Cambridge. It was on his first visit to his old school, Harrow, where he would continue to return for the annual "Songs," making his last appearance in 1961.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Truth leads to Real Change

There are thousands of books on Personal Growth or on Becoming Successful. I have found the following books helpful as I moved forward in my personal growth. I will share one thing from each book that I found helpful and then share with you what I believe is the ultimate ingredient to becoming successful in our personal growth.

Failing Forward by John Maxwell
Life is Tremendous by Charlie "Tremendous" Jones
Soar with Your Strengths by Donald O. Clifton & Paula Nelson
Character Counts by Rod Handley

Failing Forward chapter 9 "Get Over Yourself -- Everyone Else Has"
People who desire to fail forward must turn their attention away from themselves and toward helping others. You could call that process getting over yourself.

After reading this chapter I began to keep my eyes open to people in need and make the effort to do what I could to help. When I did this I began to move beyond my hang-ups and I experienced personal growth each time I reached out to help another.

Life is Tremendous chapter 3 "Three Decisions in Life"
The three great decisions are: 1) Who are you going to live your life with? 2) What are you going to live your life in? 3) What are you going to live your life for?

Soar with Your Strengths chapter 6 "Strengths Develop Only in Relation to Another Human Being"
Relationship is the process of investing in another person by doing things for that person's own good without consideration of self-reward. Ultimately, it is the sum of our responses to another human being.

Character Counts chapter 1 "A Call to Accountability"
I became interested in accountability because of two primary reasons. The first one was personal. Though I had an impressive address and phone book listing and could mix fairly well in most social situations, I found myself longing to have someone who knew me for who I really was, and would be willing to listen, advise and challenge me to live in an upright godly manner.

The second reason I became interested in accountability was the pattern of failures which I observed in the lives of many Christians whom I admired and followed closely.

Each of these books woke me to things in my life that were needing correction but these books are not worth anything unless I take the action to do the hard work called CHANGE. The greatest book I have found on change is the Bible.

In the pages of the Bible I find men and women who were faulty and yet the Creator used them to make great changes in others. I find men, like David, who sinned, woke up, repented and God used them for great things. I find cowards like, Jonah, who ran from their responsibility and once God woke them up they carried out their mission with success.

In reality I find myself often looking for answers by reading books written by men when I could find real lasting solutions to the same problems in the book that really counts, The Bible.

For example: Luke 10: 30-37 Jesus gives us the Parable of the Good Samaritan were a man gets mugged and a priest and a leader came upon him and went around him instead of helping. Then a reject of society came along and stopped to give him care. Jesus then encourages us to go and do the same.

A Samaritan was looked down on in the society Jesus lived in and Jesus showed how this reject looked beyond his status in society and to the needs of another.

Another example is found in James 5: 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

By becoming accountable to another person we can begin to move pass our sins and toward our dreams.

God's Word, the Bible, is full of truths about change and how God wants to help you grow. It is the only book to read that really counts. I have to admit that I often do not go to the Bible first for the help I need but I do end up there.

I encourage you to open the pages of the Bible and look for the answers to your problems, your hang-ups and your sin. God is waiting to give you the help you need, at the time you need it but you have to seek it first and it is found in His Word.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Are You Living in Failed Potential?

Have you ever thought about what your potential is? Are you frustrated with certain habits you have developed that keep you from growing to your potential? I got the title for this post from Mark Warner, Senior Pastor of Vineyard Church.

I discovered several years ago that God had a purpose for my life which has its roots in all of the experiences I have had, the talents I have and the Spiritual Gifts I have been given by the Holy Spirit. At the same time I discovered my purpose I discovered there are habits I had developed that kept me from reaching my potential and live in my purpose.

Soon afterward I wrote a personal mission statement: "I am living my purpose as I grow to my potential by serving others." My purpose in life is to help others, especially men, by serving them. As I do this I will grow to my potential.

In Genesis we are told how Moses and the Israelites watched various miracles that God performed and yet they did not trust in Him. While in captivity they developed certain habits from trusting in their tasks masters to provide everything for them. Once set free from bondage of their captives they could not break free from the reliance of the easy life of letting someone else make all of their decisions. Their fear of the unknown kept caused them to wander in the desert for 40 years.

What life controlling habit(s) have you developed that keep you stranded in the wilderness and out of the promised land?

It could be a negative attitude. It could be reliance on drugs or alcohol. It could be addiction to pornography. Or it could be self-righteousness. It could be pride. It could be sin which includes all of the above. I encourage you to examine your life and discover what it is that keeps you from fully living a full life.

Do you want to break free and live a life that is full? I believe that only God can set you free from the life controlling habits you have developed but you have your part to do as well. I have four things for you to do to begin the process of breaking free from life controlling habits.

1st - You must acknowledge you have a life controlling habit and that you are powerless to overcome it on your own. James 5: 16
2nd - You must submit to the power of the Holy Spirit. James 4: 7
3rd - Everyday you must go before God in prayer through the name of Jesus Christ for strength to overcome. Matthew 21: 22
4th - You must replace your life controlling habit with service to others. Matthew 25: 34-40

Breaking free from life controlling habits is a process and an ongoing effort on your part but your strength will come from the Holy Spirit.

I challenge you do this for 90 days and see what God does in your life. If you do I believe you will find that you are no longer living a life of failed potential.

I would like the opportunity to pray for you over the next 90 days so please leave a comment describing your life controlling habit. I believe God will honor your desire to overcome and set you free of your life controlling habits.

Competition in the Kingdom

I shared earlier how I recently attended a church dedication where a minister from another church first welcomed the new church into the community and then he shared a vision God gave him for his church. He spoke of five things that God had stirred him to focus on:
1. Pray for an out-pouring of the Holy Spirit in an unprecedented way in the community.
2. Pray that the people of the community would see Jesus as He really is.
3. Pray that the people of the community would be healed of any wounds the church has caused.
4. Pray for and guide the church to wake up to the needs of the community.
5. Pray for and guide the church to see God's plan for the community.

As I listened to these five things God stirred me to think of my own community. I had just decided to start a new home group which would take place in our community and so I considered these five things in context of how could I use this group to focus on these things.

I live in a small community 20 miles south of Kansas City, a major city on the border of Kansas and Missouri. I attend the Vineyard Church in Overland Park which is a suburb of this large city. I share this because it is important in regard to what I share next.

Because I attend church in a community outside of my town I reside in I decided to share out of respect with other pastors that I am starting a small group in our community. In my letter I also shared the five things the pastor shared at the dedication.

I received a response from a local pastor in which I was taken to task about not going to church in the community I live in. I was told unless I attend church here I should not consider reaching out to those who are hurting and not attending church in our community. I was told that our community is not a mission field for outside churches or for people like me. I was told that I was doing something wrong and risky by wanting to reach out to those who do not attend church since I go to church in another community. I was told because I attend church in another community I could not understand the problems in my own community. Unlike the church dedication in the other city this letter was not a welcome letter but in my mind a "How dare you" letter.

I lead a men's group each week and before we have our meeting one of the guys and I play ping pong and I am known as a competitive guy. I share this because I am a competitive guy except when it comes to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

My view point is the more the better in the sharing of the Gospel of God and we should join together in spreading the Word of God. There is no turf in the Kingdom of God, it all belongs to Him and who am I to tell someone else not to do what Jesus told the disciples to do in Matthew 28: 18-20. "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." This verse does not say we must only share the gospel in the community you live and attend church in. Setting boundaries is a worldly action not a Kingdom action.

Why do I share this situation? Sometimes Christians, especially pastors, can become territorial about doing the work of the Kingdom. In Luke 9: 46-56 we are told about how the disciples argued about who was going to be the greatest and a question about someone who was not among their ranks casting out demons in Jesus name. It would be good for us to hear Jesus response.

"Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for he who is least among you, this is the one who is greatest."

"Do not hinder him; for he who is not against us is for you."

I believe when we get territorial with the Gospel of God we are serving ourselves and not the Kingdom. I understand that I am not to seek people to bring into my group who are already attending church and that is why I wrote the letter in the first place. I wrote it to openly let pastors in my community to know I was starting a small group which would focus on those who do not attend church at all. I wanted it to be out in the open and not have word of our home group get to them through the rumor mills of our community.

The reason for this post is to stir in you a question about what your motives are for doing things for the Kingdom of God. Are you looking to be greater than someone else? Are you looking to build your name? or Are you looking to build the name of God? Are you looking to serve rather than be noticed? The reply from the local pastor stirred those questions in me about my motive and I found that the reason I am starting the home group is because I want to serve those who do not attend a church. I want to do through our small group the five things the pastor shared. If that causes our local churches to be stirred to action then maybe that is a good thing. But it is not a good thing for there to be a spirit of competition and an attitude like the one this local pastor has.

As for me and my situation I am moving forward and not allowing the attitude and reaction of local pastors to keep me from reaching out to those who have been hurt by life circumstances or even the church. It is more risky not to respond to what God is calling me to do than it is to step out in faith and do it. My job is to focus doing what will bring glory to God.

I say rejoice when someone who is firmly grounded in God's word reaches out to the poor in spirit of your community and if that irks you then get up, repent you haven't been engaged and help. I challenge you to encourage others when they are engaged in the sharing of the Gospel of God. Tear down any territorial walls you have built concerning God's Kingdom. Bring glory to God not yourself.

Friday, January 9, 2009

10 Virgins, Talents, Goats and Sheep

The Story of the Virgins

"God's kingdom is like ten young virgins who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom. Five were silly and five were smart. The silly virgins took lamps, but no extra oil. The smart virgins took jars of oil to feed their lamps. The bridegroom didn't show up when they expected him, and they all fell asleep.

In the middle of the night someone yelled out, 'He's here! The bridegroom's here! Go out and greet him!'

The ten virgins got up and got their lamps ready. The silly virgins said to the smart ones, 'Our lamps are going out; lend us some of your oil.'

"They answered, 'There might not be enough to go around; go buy your own.'

"They did, but while they were out buying oil, the bridegroom arrived. When everyone who was there to greet him had gone into the wedding feast, the door was locked.

"Much later, the other virgins, the silly ones, showed up and knocked on the door, saying, 'Master, we're here. Let us in.'

"He answered, 'Do I know you? I don't think I know you.'

"So stay alert. You have no idea when he might arrive.

This story comes from Matthew 25: 1-13 and it is followed by the Parables of the Talents in verses 14-30.
The Story About Investment
"It's also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master's investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master's money.

"After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.'

"The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master's investment. His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.'

"The servant given one thousand said, 'Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.'

"The master was furious. 'That's a terrible way to live! It's criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.

"'Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this "play-it-safe" who won't go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.'

So far in these two sets of verses from Matthew we get the idea that unless we keep our lamps lit and we use our talents we will miss out on the blessings of Christ's return. Lamps are kept lit by oil and oil is often used in the Bible to show anointing or setting apart and represents the Holy Spirit's involvement in lives. The Parable of the Talents represents followers of Jesus using the gifts they received via the Holy Spirit in service to others.

This chapter of Matthew ends with Christ's return and separating those who have kept their lamps lit and used their talents or gifts in service of those who have been rejected or are at the bottom of society.
The Sheep and the Goats
"When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.'

"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'

"Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.'

"Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?'

"He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'

"Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward."

Be honest with yourself. At this very moment ask yourself:
Is your lamp lit?
Are you investing in the lives of others?
Are you becoming A Goat or a Sheep?

I honestly have to say that I do not always keep my lamp lit, I do not always use my talents in service of others and there are times I am more goat than sheep.

The good news is our salvation does not depend upon us being perfect but in us accepting Jesus as our perfect sacrifice for our failures and sins.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

5 challenges from God

I went to a church dedication the other day and several pastors from other churches spoke. Although all spoke of unity and welcomed the new church one in particular, Pastor John Wiley of
River Christian Fellowship, caught my attention.

He spoke of five things he felt God was calling the church to focus on in his community:

1. Pray for an out-pouring of God’s Holy Spirit in an unprecedented in the community.
2. Pray that the people of the community would see Jesus as He really is.
3. Pray that the people of the community would be healed of any wounds the church
has caused.
4. Pray for and guide the church to wake up to the needs of the community.
5. Pray for and guide the church to see God’s plan for the community.

I believe these five areas are things the church should focus on in every community. The world is moaning for an out pouring of God's Spirit. Most of the world has a wrong image of who Jesus is. The church has wounded many in the name of Jesus. The church often gets so involved in it's own needs that it can't see the needs of the people around them. The church often does not know what the plan God has for the community it lives in.

I want to encourage you to pray about the above five things and see how God moves you to make a difference in your community.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Why Men say, " I am Fine"

On Thursday evenings I meet with some other men to discuss life issues and seek solutions in the Bible.

Tonight we talked about the need of all men to be held accountable and why most do not seek it. I believe every man struggles with one of the following issues: lust, greed, power, pride, work, family, a wound or low self esteem. In my view being held accountable in one of these areas is needed in every man's life. Most men will not seek accountability for one of several reasons which I will discuss after I share the following story.

A farmer named Clyde had a car accident. In court, the trucking company’s fancy lawyer was questioning Clyde.

"Didn’t you say, at the scene of the accident, I’m fine," asked the lawyer.

Clyde responded, "Well, I’ll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite mule, Bessie, into the…"

"I didn’t ask for any details", the lawyer interrupted. "Just answer the question. Did you not say, at the scene of the accident, I’m fine?"

Clyde said, "Well, I had just got Bessie into the trailer and I was driving down the road…"

The lawyer interrupted again and said, "Judge, I am trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of the accident, this man told the Highway Patrolman on the scene that he was just fine. Now several weeks after the accident he is trying to sue my client. I believe he is a fraud! Please tell him to simply answer the question."

By this time, the Judge was fairly interested in Clyde’s answer and said to the lawyer, "I’d like to hear what he has to say about his favorite mule, Bessie."

Clyde thanked the Judge and proceeded, "Well as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie, my favorite mule, into the trailer and was driving her down the highway when this huge semi-truck and trailer ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side. I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other. I was hurting, real bad and didn’t want to move. However, I could hear ole Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible shape just by her groans."

"Shortly after the accident a Highway Patrolman came on the scene. He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning so he went over to her. After he looked at her, he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes. Then the Patrolman came across the road, gun in hand, looked at me, and said, How are you feeling? Now what would you say?"

I believe this story, which I found at http://comedyplus.blogspot.com/, describes very well why most men will not seek accountability even when they want it. Often in our churches, which should be the one place a sinner can find help, we find people who want to point to our sin making a big deal of it. What men need is a place where they can share what they are struggling with without more shame being added to what they are already experiencing. Men want honesty and directness but they do not want to be shamed. Another reason they do not seek accountability is often people place a label on them which brings discouragement. So this story points out how most men feel when they look across the room and often see a man confessing his sins only to be raked over the coals instead of being given the support and encouragement that he seeks.

Our Thursday evening group is based on REAL Men RoCK. Men are longing to know how to be Righteous, need Encouragement, want Accountability and desire to lean how to Love. They can only become those things by being Men who Rely on Christ's Kindness.

REAL Men RoCK is not about what I can do but how a group of men who have been changed by a relationship with Jesus can make a difference in the lives of other men. It is my honor to be an instrument that God uses to replay this message to men.

If you are a man who is looking for other men to come and stand by you as you battle your life issues then leave me a message. I can help you find men who will encourage you not shame you.