The Need For Real Men Who are Real Christians

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then...

Ephesians 6:13-14(a), NIV

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.

I Corinthians 16:13-14(a), NIV

 

The more wicked society becomes, the more I see the need for real men who have the courage to stand against this wickedness. I don't mean that we need men of violence who refuse to turn the other cheek, but I believe we may have missed the meaning of Jesus' command for us to not resist evil men. I don't believe He was telling us to be weak and let wicked men do whatever they wanted; rather, I believe He was instructing us not to repay evil for evil. The reason I think this is that we see Jesus on several occasions not allowing wicked men to do Him harm, even when it was their clear intent to do so. 

 

The other reason I believe this is due to passages like the ones above. We are to take stands against evil - even to the point of putting on the full armor of God to defend ourselves against the devil's wicked schemes. So, to the best of my understanding, it would appear that we are allowed to defend God's righteous cause, including taking stands to defend the innocent, while at the same time not going to the sinful extreme of retaliating against wicked men.

 

In other words, it would appear that God expects righteous men to uphold justice, while allowing for His vengeance at the time of His choosing. We cannot stand idly by when Satan's followers are attacking the innocent, but we must be careful not to go too far by taking revenge. Justice in the absence of vengeance may be tricky to accomplish, but it is not only possible, it is absolutely necessary to do so.

 

This is where Christian men being men of courage is so desperately needed. Where were the men needed to take those necessary stands when God was being removed from the public square by evil men? Where were the men needed to take stands against the aborting of millions of innocent children? Where are the men now, when men of perversion wish to be around our wives and children? I'm not saying that they needed to be violent or take God's vengeance, I am asking why so few had the courage to stand against evil and let Satan's children know that they could not sin against God and commit their crimes against the innocent?

 

We are seeing the results of the lack of righteous men willing to take righteous stands over the years. The filth and degradation has spilled out openly into our streets, often into our schools, and sometimes even into the church. Where are the men of courage who will say no more? And I am asking this question specifically to men of faith because it is your job. We have righteous women who are willing to take these stands and these women of virtue are to be commended.

 

Having said that, I believe that it is we men who have shrunk back during the times when we were needed most. As a result, the penalty for taking righteous stands will now be harsher than it was in the beginning when wicked men were first allowing their wicked deeds to be seen in the open light of day. They were likely surprised when their wicked deeds were met with such small opposition. Now the boldness of the devil's followers has grown by magnitudes, and it is time for men to be weak no more. We can take the stands that God requires us to take, but it will require us to become familiar with God's expectations that are found within His holy Word. And we must take these righteous stands for what will happen to the innocent if we do not?

 

So, where are you men of faith? Are we ready to show ourselves as the men God expects us to be, or will we cower in fear hoping that wicked men in high places don't notice us at all? The answer to these questions, I believe, will determine whether or not we are a society that is even worth saving. America is trembling on the brink of destruction at the present, as can be clearly seen by those honest enough to look. Sadly, so too is the church. And while it would be tragic indeed for us to lose our nation, such nations as ours that have given themselves over to wickedness have always faced the choice or repentance or destruction. Losing America would be a blow to the entire world.

 

However, losing the church and losing your soul would be fatal. It is time, men of faith to stop fooling ourselves and take a righteous stand. God will help us, but we must stand now or we will find ourselves and our families suffering the consequences for all eternity. 

 

One more thing that I believe we must keep in mind: Those on God's side are going to win. If we are going to be on His winning side, we are going to have to be strong; we are going to have to be courageous; we are going to have to do these things in love; and we are going to have to take a stand!   

 

Who Do You Trust?

Stand in awe and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.

Psalms 4:4-5, KJV

 

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night, with some concern pressing so heavily on your mind that you simply cannot go back to sleep? While I do not seem to have that happen nearly as often now as when I was a bit younger, I occasionally will get to thinking about something to the point where I still will lose sleep over it, even to this day.

 

Usually, the thing that keeps me awake is very minor, but there are other times that I get to thinking about problems that are so vast and out of my control that it robs me of my much needed rest. Last night was such a night.

 

I got to thinking about the state of the nation. It began with the drug problem that has become so out of hand that it is literally spilling out into the streets of just about every city and town, regardless of size. I then moved on to thinking about our national debt which is so out of control that the interest alone is costing each and every citizen over $6,000 in interest each year. For a family of four, the amount is nearly $25,000 annually! Then I got to thinking about my own personal finances and you know all to well how that line of thinking goes, especially in the middle of the night.

 

So, after lying awake since 3:00 AM, I finally got up this morning a little before five and started reading my Bible. That's when I came across the passage you read above. It advises us to commune with our own heart upon our beds and to be still. Then it tells us to offer the sacrifices of righteousness that are due to God and, finally, it tells us to put our trust in the LORD.

 

Valuable advice, I'm sure you will agree. Priceless, in fact,  if we will just have the wisdom to take it.

 

So, why not do just that? Why not take God up on His offer to place our trust in Him? He is the One with the wisdom to help us with the large scale problems such our national problems of debt, our local problems of crime, and our personal problems that we each deal with. It's not that we do not have a certain responsibility to do our part, but having done all we can we are then privileged with the gift of turning everything else over to God's care. Since He is the only one with the wisdom and ability to take on this monumental task, it is a pretty good offer indeed.

 

And when we do place our trust in Him, we no longer have to fret and toss and turn on our beds at night. All that is left for us to do at this point is to be still on our own beds as we ponder in our own hearts the peace that comes from knowing that the Someone who is truly capable of handling the world's problems, great and small, has offered to do just that. Our part is to offer those sacrifices of righteousness to Him and then to simply trust God to do the rest.

 

And when we trust God to do the rest, we can rest.

 

It's a pretty good deal, when you think about it. We can either trust in ourselves to solve the world's problems, or we can trust God. Who do you trust? 

The Encourager

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

I Thessalonians 5:9-11, ESV

 

I believe that one of the most important things for Christians to remember is their responsibility to encourage one another. While it is true we have God-given standards that we must maintain, it is critical that we remember that God does not want us to fall under His wrath, but under His salvation. And while it is true that we must warn one another, and even discipline one another when such discipline is required, our primary duty is to encourage and build up.

 

I think all of us can readily call to mind those who have had such a talent for encouragement in our own lives. Maybe it was your parents, who always rooted for your endeavors even when you made mistakes. Perhaps it was that teacher who built you back up when you were discouraged from just not "getting it" as quickly as the rest of the class. Or maybe it was a coach who was especially adept at building you back up after what seemed to you the most miserable performance ever.

 

It is such people in our lives that we have the most love and devotion. They are the ones who believed in you, even when you were having trouble believing in yourself. They are the ones who spurred you on to accomplishments that you may have felt to be impossible for one such as you to achieve. These people make you feel good just by being in their presence, and sometimes just by thinking of them when you are not. I have had a number of such people in my own life, and I know from sweet experience how badly needed they are. In fact, I married one such person and I believe that it has made all the difference in the direction my life has taken. Perhaps you can relate because you have been blessed in such a way.

 

So when God gives us the command to encourage one another and build each other up, He is giving no small responsibility. The basic human need for encouragement is every bit as vital for our existence as water is for our bodies. And just as a day or two without water can threaten our very existence, the withholding of life-giving encouragement is just as dangerous.

 

But, what can we do when we are not so blessed as to be around encouraging people? For one thing, you can reassess your friends. You can rethink your employment situations, and even remove yourself from the poisonous environment of poor coaches and teammates. You could even run away from home or seek a divorce if things got rough. You could leave the church and even check out of society completely.

 

Or...

 

you could change the environment you are in. You could begin to try your own hand at encouraging others and building them up. It might just be that the unencouraging people you just seem to run into so often are a mere reflection of what they see in you. Much of life, I have found, is an "echo" where you have a tendency to get back exactly what you have been dishing out. The fact is that God loves us so much that He does not want us to suffer the slings and arrows of our fellow men, nor does He want others to suffer from the unkind remarks and actions that we might be tempted to make. 

 

So we can "encourage one another, and all the more" as we go through life. You know what it has meant to you to have such people in your own life, and you know what it means to you now to have a loving Father in heaven who encourages you on a daily basis. We need that building up in our own lives, and it is important for us to remember that others need the same thing from us.

 

By God's grace we are going to heaven, some day. if we do not become discouraged from the path. We can help others get there as well. It will not always be easy, but if we will encourage one another and build one another up, I believe that we will find that path to be most pleasant. Never forget that people truly need your encouragement just as surely as they need water for their daily lives. Otherwise, they are going to wither. Since that is the case, let us give one another that life-giving encouragement that each one of us so desperately needs. 

Are Only a Few People Going to Be Saved

Someone asked Him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?"

He said to them, "Make every effort to enter in through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to."

Luke 13:23-24, NIV

 

I have to confess that this is one of Jesus' sayings that makes me extremely uncomfortable. It would have been so nice had Jesus, when asked the question if only a few would be saved, had responded with something like, "Don't worry, we are all going to the same place by different paths so only a few really bad people will be lost."

 

But we all know that this was not even remotely close to His answer. 

 

His answer involved a command that required more effort than most of us would like to make. Most of us, were we to be truly honest with ourselves, prefer little effort as compared to every effort. It's kind of like when the rich man wanted to know what else he lacked upon learning that he was checking all the right boxes on the commandments. When Jesus told him that he needed to sell everything he had and then follow Him, the rich man became sad. Apparently he had been looking for less effort instead of more. Or when the man asked Jesus who his neighbor was, it is likely he was looking to limit his scope of effort, not expand it. So he was probably disappointed when he learned just how large the amount of the total population was made up of "neighbors" he was supposed to love and take care of.

 

The fact is that God has always required best effort, while men's preference has always been the bare minimum. We want to know how much we need to give so we can have the rest for ourselves. We want to know how much we need to worship, so we can keep the rest of the time for what we really want to do. Is it any wonder that the religious organizations that preach the bare minimum are likely the most popular? Just give us a few hours of "worship" at Easter and Christmas and our consciences will be soothed and we can get on with "our" lives.

 

But God is not a God of the bare minimum effort, and He never has been. Nor is He a God of the "broad path society" or the "limit who is our neighbor club." He has always required a people who will love Him with all of their heart and all of their soul and all of their mind and all of their strength. Furthermore, He does not insist upon the narrow path as a punishment, for His narrow path is brightly lit and readily identifiable. It is a lot more restrictive that the broad paths that we might prefer, this much is true, but it is a path that is filled with good people who want to be on that path and who are more than willing to help you along the way.

 

One more thing: There are few endeavors in life that are excellent that do not require extra effort. Getting straight "A's" in school is hard (or used to be). Getting that gold medal is hard. Receiving a promotion is hard. But all of these things are eagerly sought by those who refuse to settle for mediocrity. Why then should we be looking for anything else in our service to God our Creator and to Jesus our Savior? We should be eagerly seeking ways to increase our service to the Ones that we owe our very existence and salvation to, not less.

 

We owe them our very lives! Why would we want to repay this debt on the "cheap"? While we know we can never earn our salvation, we are still required to make every effort to enter by the narrow way. And if we truly love the Father and the Son, why would we want to do anything less?  

Numbering Our Days

The length of our days is seventy years - or eighty if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away... Teach us to number our days aright, that we may have a heart of wisdom.

Psalms 90:10 & 12, NIV

 

How do you feel about getting older? Just about everybody I know isn't a big fan, but as the psalmist points out, it is something we really should think about.

 

I can remember when I first started preaching about this verse when I was about twenty-five. I would tell people that if my life was average, then it was about a third over at that point. That was alright with me at the time because I was in good health and it seemed like it took an awful long time to get to that point. Still, half way is half way, and it did get me to thinking. 

 

But now, Moses' call for thinking about our mortality is a bit more pressing. At nearly 64 years of age, I'm looking at about six to sixteen more years on the range he gives above. Since the last six to sixteen years have gone by rather quickly, it's beginning to dawn on me that the sands in that proverbial hourglass are starting to run out.

 

Wow, cheery stuff so far, right?

 

But actually, it is. The closer I get to Moses' sliding scale of life expectancy, the happier I get. Not because I am some sort of fatalist, but because I know that the next phase is way better than this one, for it is eternal. That being the case, I still have exactly the same amount of time remaining as the two of my grandchildren who have yet to turn one. And while I know that my physical life is diminishing (I do have a mirror) the ever-shrinking amount of physical time I have left doesn't really bother me that much, for God has placed before me the hope of Heaven if I will just be faithful. 

 

Putting aside the worry that too many people have about their years running out then frees us up to take care of the really important things that God has planned for us all. The numbering aright of our years will prompt us to make sure that we are taking care of the most important things. So here is what I am thinking we all need to be doing with our remaining time:

 

First, God has given us the offer of eternal life with He and Christ. He has extended His grace to all and Christ has died for all so the most important things have already been done. The only part remaining is our part (we are called "servants" after all) so we must read the terms of His offer, accept those terms and then do them. 

 

Second, God has given that same offer of eternal life to our loved ones, so we need to encourage them to accept their own responsibility, read the Bible to find out His will, and then do it.

 

Third, this old world is in a pretty big mess. While we cannot clean up the whole thing, we can do our part to take care of the small corner that we are in. So we must be determined to do just that as long as God blesses us with the strength to do so.

 

And fourth, we have to be determined to appreciate and enjoy the time we do have left. As the blind and deaf Helen Keller once said, life really is either an exciting adventure or it is nothing at all. God has given us a great gift with this life, and I am learning that one of the greatest parts of this gift is the fact that He has wisely limited it to a very reasonable number - about seventy to eighty years. And while it is true that age comes with its share of unique challenges and surprises, it is a blessing, not a curse, for the physical part of our existence to have an expiration date.

 

We are, after all, going to Heaven if we will do our part. God loves us and will always do His part. Christ, too, will continue to do His. Since this is the case the only thing that remains is for us to do our part. Since that includes numbering our days aright. let us do so with an eager anticipation of the quickly approaching finish line and the prize that awaits those who will run the race by God's rules. And while we are at it, let's make sure that we are urging our loved ones (and everyone else) to do the same.

 

One last thought: I have never seen a long distance runner who was disappointed in seeing the finish line. For Christians, this finish line of our physical lives is merely the beginning of the marvelous eternity that God has in store for all who will just number their days aright and then live the rest of their physical lives in a way that will please Him.