Building a Church Community

There are many variations of passages of Lorem Ipsum available, but the majority have suffered alteration in some form, by injected humour, or randomised words which don’t look even slightly believable. If you are going to use a passage of Lorem Ipsum, you need to be sure there isn’t anything embarrassing hidden in the middle of text.There are many variations of passages of Lorem Ipsum available, but the majority have suffered alteration in some form, by injected humour, or randomised words which don’t look even slightly believable. If you are going to use a passage of Lorem Ipsum, you need to be sure there isn’t anything embarrassing hidden in the middle of text.There are many variations of passages of Lorem Ipsum available, but the majority have suffered alteration in some form, by injected humour, or randomised words which don’t look even slightly believable. If you are going to use a passage of Lorem Ipsum, you need to be sure there isn’t anything embarrassing hidden in the middle of text.There are many variations of passages of Lorem Ipsum available, but the majority have suffered alteration in some form, by injected humour, or randomised words which don’t look even slightly believable. If you are going to use a passage of Lorem Ipsum, you need to be sure there isn’t anything embarrassing hidden in the middle of text.

There are many variations of passages of Lorem Ipsum available, but the majority have suffered alteration in some form, by injected humour, or randomised words which don’t look even slightly believable. If you are going to use a passage of Lorem Ipsum, you need to be sure there isn’t anything embarrassing hidden in the middle of text.There are many variations of passages of Lorem Ipsum available, but the majority have suffered alteration in some form, by injected humour, or randomised words which don’t look even slightly believable. If you are going to use a passage of Lorem Ipsum, you need to be sure there isn’t anything embarrassing hidden in the middle of text.

 

Solve the Scripture Problem

We must read Scripture, brother. God chose those words for you and for me. “Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us” (Romans 15:4 MSG). God chose those words, carefully, so we could read them. And he designed us to need to read them. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Most of us can do better—reading Scripture more and with more regularity. Figuring out how is the problem. But it’s a problem we should approach with excitement and intentionality and optimism, not with guilt or reluctance or resignation. It’s a problem we should approach with creativity, recognizing our unique designs and identities, our unique preferences and tendencies—for the solutions to the problem are as unique and varied as we are.

Okay, so what do we do?

Don’t know where to start? Try one of the many reading plans on the free YouVersion mobile app. Can’t find time? Try listening, in the car or at the gym, to one of the several audio versions on the free Bible.is app. Struggle with consistency or motivation? Try the daily reminder feature of the free BibleGateway app or the tracking and/or group accountability features of the free Bible Companion and ReadingPlan apps. Don’t like archaic language? Try The Message version, available free on YouVersion and BibleGateway. Can’t remember what you’ve read? Try the free Fighter Verses memorization app. Something else? Work those masculine problem-solving skills to forge your own solution. Then, execute it.

And, remember, this is about a relationship, not about rules or the “right way.” It’s about making a little room for God to speak to you through Scripture. It’s about connecting with God, today.

 

Taken from the WiRE
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Dare You to Pray This . . .

In the aftermath of adultery and murder, King David pleaded with God. He begged God not to cut him off (Psalm 51:11). You see, David had experienced what it’s like to know God, what it’s like to spend time with him, to listen to him and trust him, to love and be loved by him—and he dreaded losing that closeness and goodness and truth. So, in desperation, he invited God to do something new in him. He invited God to rebuild his heart, in any way he would like (Psalm 51:10). He gave himself up. He gave himself over . . . to whatever work, whatever journey, whatever adventure God might have for him. He decided to trust God more than he trusted himself.

How about we do that too? We may or may not be guilty of adultery or murder, but we’re all sinners. We all carry sin’s taint. “If we say we have no sin . . . the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). So how about we too invite God to do something new in us? How about we too give ourselves over to whatever work, whatever journey, whatever adventure God might have for each of us? And, how about we do it, as men, together? We’ll be better for it—God’s brilliant, he’s good, and he loves us. Might it be scary? Sure it might. Might it be a little painful even? Sure it might. Will it be one of the best things we ever do? Absolutely it will.

Okay, so what do we do?

Pray with the men of WiRE right now:

“Do a new work in me, God. You’re brilliant and good, and you love me. So do whatever you’d like. And, whatever it is, I’m in. I’ll trust you more than I trust myself.”

Taken from the WiRE
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Begin to Pull it All Together

You can move, brother, into “an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you” (Ephesians 4:20-24 MSG). We can all be remade into new selves, true selves—but God won’t force change upon us. He wants us to ask and listen and learn and work with him. He wants us to do so continually, because he also won’t reveal those true selves all at once. Rather, he’ll teach. He’ll guide. And he’ll reveal identity iteratively, in a progression, in a process that builds on itself throughout our lives. How this actually happens will be different for each of us. We’re new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). But, we’re unique creations too (1 Corinthians 12:14-26).

So, when God gives us something, just for us, when he allows us to discover something about ourselves, we’ve got to treat those things with extraordinary care. We mustn’t allow them to be lost or forgotten in the rush and charge of life. We must collect and revisit them—so we can always have the best, most complete picture possible of who we really are and whom we’re really meant to become.

Okay, so what do we do?

Get a notebook or create a document, one dedicated to this purpose. Record what God’s revealed already. Recall moments when you just knew he was speaking—maybe a trusted friend pointed out something true about you; or the story of a particular person in the Bible stood out from all the rest; or you sensed God showing you something about yourself, in prayer. Collect and compile these things. Add more as you get more. Protect and preserve them, so you can return to them . . . and return and return and return.

Taken from the WiRE
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Here’s a Little Heresy

“Life’s not all about success.” Those are fairly heretical words for most of us men—men trying to ascend—men for whom success in careers, success in raising kids, or success in just looking successful have become so important. Planning for success, working for it, worrying about it—they dominate our everyday lives. And, I mean, look around. How could life not be all about success? Well, brother, it’s not. Our King, Jesus Christ, teaches us that it’s not.

 “Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot”
(Luke 12:15 MSG).

Now, make no mistake, life is partially about success—we’ve got to spend our lives for something, and we should do that something as well as we can. So, we mustn’t forget success entirely. We just can’t make it an ultimate thing. “If you are too obsessed with success, you will forget to live,” wrote Thomas Merton. When we focus all, or even most, of our lives on achieving success, we fall short of the full life Jesus promises in John 10:10. We miss those parts of life we’re meant to devote to the success of others.

How many of us sacrifice huge portions of the lives we’re meant to live—loving wives; spending time with kids; eating meals with families; hanging out with friends; helping people in need—spending too much time on our own success? How many of us are unavailable to those who need us most, whose lives are enriched by us—and who’ll enrich ours, right back?


Okay, so what do we do?

If you struggle with this, start talking about it. Confess it to friends, to brothers in community. Confess it to God. Repent it too. Tell God you don’t want to be that man anymore. He’ll help you change, if you want to.


Taken from the WiRE

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You’re Built for Opposition

Ever been in the middle of something tough, prayed for rescue, and heard . . . nothing? Ever questioned God, in frustration, “Why won’t you answer?”

Could it be that God doesn’t always answer because, sometimes, he wants us to stay right where we are and learn, there, how to fight? Could it be that God sometimes allows trouble and pain to train us, to build our maturity, to make us more reliable conduits of his love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control? We often consider trouble and pain as unnecessary, to be avoided, hindrances to ease and happiness. Might it make more sense to consider trouble and pain as opposition, as a mountaineer views the pitch and the altitude, or as a linebacker views the block and the fake?

We aren’t meant to be men who avoid opposition, numb it or deny it. We aren’t meant to run from battles, to hide and to let others fight. We’re built for opposition. Truthfully, we’d probably wither without it. We must see it, though, for what it is: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Our struggle is against being lured into selfishness, indifference, impatience, rage, resignation, or sin in the face of problems at work, or in our finances or relationships or families. These are epic struggles—battles worthy of any man.

Okay, so what do we do?

God doesn’t always take opposition away, brother, because he’s built you to conquer, not to cower. And he’s given you everything you’ll need. Spend time this week reading and meditating upon Ephesians 6:10-17. Write out what the words mean to you, personally, practically.

Taken from the WiRE
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Who Are Your Enemies?

Who are your enemies? Do you have any? Who hates you? Anyone? Most of us would probably answer, no. We might even conclude that these words, spoken so long ago, have become a little irrelevant in our present, everyday lives. And we might try to just move on to the next set of instructions. But, should we? Can we? The answer is, absolutely not. These particular instructions are as relevant to us, right now, as they are challenging—and as they are important. Our King, Jesus Christ, is simply calling on us to love even those who are hardest to love. And we know people like that.

Who’s mistreated you? Who’s let you down? Who’s taken advantage of you? Maybe someone at work? A family member? A friend? A neighbor? Someone you barely know? “Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst” (Luke 6:27-30 MSG).

We must treat well those who’ve treated us badly (Luke 6:27-29). We must help those who will never help us back (Luke 6:31-34). We must be generous to those who are anything but (Luke 6:29-30). And we must be merciful to them all (Matthew 6:14-15). But, not only that, we must be merciful again and again and again (Matthew 18:21-22). You see, what Jesus is teaching us—what we must grasp and embrace—is that we don’t fight evil with yet more evil; we fight evil with good (Romans 12:20).

Okay, so what do we do?

Who’d be the hardest person for you to pray for? Got him? Got her in mind? Okay, that’s your person. Pray for them. Let God the Holy Spirit lead you in how to pray. Pray tomorrow too. Write their name down and pray for them every day for a week, at least.

Taken from the WiRE
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Where’s Home?

“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:2-3). How does God restore your soul, brother? Where do you find rest? How are you most able to forget, even for a few moments, the pressures of this life? Where do you get reset and realigned? How do you connect with God most easily? Where are you most able to hear his voice or feel his guidance?

Is it in praying at your breakfast table in the early morning, before anyone else wakes? Or in reading Scripture on the treadmill or in your car over the lunch hour? Is it in a few minutes of stillness and solitude in the evening? Or in boisterous community around a table, with brothers or with family? Is it in walking or running or biking through streets or through hills? Is it in listening to music? Or in making your own music, singing in church perhaps? Or in something else entirely?

Recognize that God designed you, uniquely, to have ways—even amid the busyness—to find him, to find rest and restoration through him. You were designed to, every so often, just come home. So open your eyes. Search your heart. He has, no doubt, already shown you how.

Okay, so what do we do?

Think back on times when you most felt God’s peace, most felt his presence. That you have experienced him in particular ways, in particular places, in particular activities, means he has spoken . . . right to you. He’s given you permission to do those things, whatever they are. He’s told you he wants you to do those things—that you’ve got to do those things. Now, you simply must choose to do them, consistently and often.

Taken from the WiRE
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A Relationship > A Rule

Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; 
he’s the one who will keep you on track—Proverbs 3:6

We men like formulas. We like bullet points. We like bright lines. They make life easier. They cut through mystery and doubt. We’d love it if such things could govern our relationships with God. They would make following him easier, too. At least, we think they would. So we try to create them. It starts innocently: Someone seeks God and finds him—through a specific prayer or practice, or through a particular way of studying Scripture or being in community or doing service. But, then, that person decides that’s “the” way to find God. Others are persuaded, of course, because they want to find God too. And a formula is born, a bullet point, a bright line, a rule about how our relationships with God must look.

The thing is, while God never changes (James 1:17, Hebrews 13:8), our relationships with him do. They’re ever changing, ever challenging (2 Corinthians 3:18). There’s always more with God. There’s always mystery. And there’s always something new. But because we fear change and fear being challenged, we often cling to what’s worked in the past or what’s worked for someone else. We create a rule, repeat a ritual, but we may not grow and mature in our relationships with God.

Okay, so what do we do?

“Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do” (Matthew 23:8-10 MSG).

Set aside some time to pray and to listen. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. Ask where you might find him next—maybe in Scripture; maybe through serving; or on a short-term mission trip; or out in his creation; or something else. Let him guide your thoughts. Let him keep you on track.

Taken from the WiRE
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