Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Biblical Manhood 5--Live in Love to be a Real Man

2013 is at an end. This means that my Biblical manhood study is as well—at least in a purposeful sense. I may well come back to it at some point. However, I have learned many things that I totally realize I do not do well enough, but God’s grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9), and with it I will improve. From January 1st, where I learned initially that Biblical men are to be strong and courageous (which I can definitely improve on), to April 18th, where I learned that Biblical men trust God’s promises (which I can use work on), to August 4th, where I learned that Biblical men are ready for the Lord’s return (which I need to pray for more), to September 25th, where I learned that Biblical men are controlled by God (which is by no means an excuse to sin), to December 21st, where I learned that Biblical men repent (which I need to grow in). My study took me from the book of Joshua, to Ruth, Job, and the “Minor” Prophets. From there I went much slower—starting on February 16th—and made it through Acts, Genesis, Luke, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, and finally, 2 Chronicles—finishing on December 28th.

With only three days left in the year, I stopped, but today, I felt called to 1 Corinthians 16:13-14. This passage sums up everything I have read this whole year in the realm of Biblical manhood. In addition, it’s ironic because my dorm at school adopted this passage as their theme.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, “Be alert, stand firm in the faith, act like a man, be strong. Your every ⌊action⌋ must be done with love.”

Biblical men do everything in love. Evangelism, parenting, preaching, sin-fighting, doctrine-correcting, must all be done in love. Christians are to be known by their love, so Biblical men must be loving.

This verse is huge. It does not, by any means, mean that Biblical men are to be sissies. Love is one of the hardest things to truly do, and our culture is slowly working to destroy it. For Christian men to truly live in love, we will combat the culture. In the verse, we are given four commands: be alert, stand firm, act like a man, be strong. We are told to do all of this in love. Jesus said Himself in John 13:35 that, “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Allow me to elaborate.

Be alert. This means that we must be on guard. Guards must be in place against temptation, false beliefs, and anything else that will distract us from God. Doctrine-correction comes in here; it must be done with love. I’ve been studying the book of Jude the past few weeks, and its whole point is to warn against false teaching. First Peter 3:15-16 says, “[H]onor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect.” It’s specifically speaking of evangelism, but doctrine correction (“debates”) comes in the same way. We must do it in love, but keep ourselves alert to falsities.

Stand firm. This means that since we are believers, we can’t impinge on our beliefs. We have to hold to them. People look to us and how we act. Firmness must be held in actions so we are not called hypocrites. However, in so doing we must still be loving. Homosexuality is a good example of this. We must be firm in the fact that it is a sin, but we must be loving in how we go about telling them. We can’t be Westboro Baptist. We have to love the sinner enough to share God’s grace with them—which includes the fact that sin must and will be punished—and pray that God grants them salvation. However, we must stand firm in our beliefs.

Act like a man. This includes right relationships with brothers in Christ, right relationships with women, and right relationships with children. Men need relationships with fellow Christian men. Men need to treat women properly—whoever they are: mother, wife, sister in Christ—and use intimacy appropriate to that place. Men—if married—have a responsibility to properly raise their children in the fear and instruction of the Lord and to daily pray for their salvation. All of this should be done in love.

Be strong. Second Timothy 2:1 says, “You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” We are to be strong—not primarily physically, but more so spiritually—in the grace of God. We must trust that grace as more powerful than anything we possess. God is good, and in Him is everything we need. This is love for God.

Do I do everything in love? How can I improve? Will I? Am I a Biblical man? How can I improve?

God, help me to be a man. A real man. A man after Your own heart. I read Proverbs 31 today as well—December 31—, and if I’m to find that woman, I must be a Biblical man myself. I love You, Lord. You’ve shown me much this year, and grown me too. Never let my life regress. Use me, God, to further Your kingdom. Thanks for grace and loving me first.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Biblical manhood 4--Real Men Bow Down in Repentance

My Biblical Manhood reading today had me read about the wickedest king of Judah—King Manasseh. Manasseh’s story has awed me from shortly after I was first saved. He doesn’t inspire me, but his is a comforting story for those saved by grace alone—of whom I am one. Second Chronicles 33:10-17 tells the story:
The LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they didn’t listen. So He brought against them the military commanders of the king of Assyria. They captured Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze shackles, and took him to Babylon. When he was in distress, he sought the favor of Yahweh his God and earnestly humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. He prayed to Him, so He heard his petition and granted his request, and brought him back to Jerusalem, to his kingdom. So Manasseh came to know that Yahweh is God. After this, he built the outer wall of the city of David from west of Gihon in the valley to the entrance of the Fish Gate; he brought it around the Ophel, and he heightened it considerably. He also placed military commanders in all the fortified cities of Judah. He removed the foreign gods and the idol from the LORD’s temple, along with all the altars that he had built on the mountain of the LORD’s temple and in Jerusalem, and he threw them outside the city. He built the altar of the LORD and offered fellowship and thank offerings on it. Then he told Judah to serve Yahweh, the God of Israel. However, the people still sacrificed at the high places, but only to Yahweh their God.
There is more to his story prior (33:1-9) and after (33:18-20), but the focus is on these verses.
Biblical men repent. Maybe they’ve lived wickedly their whole life, or maybe there’s just small sins that need repented of. Biblical men will repent. Manasseh is a prime example.
Manasseh was the typical teenager since he became king at age twelve (33:1) and immediately undid the good that his father Hezekiah had done in Judah (33:3). He built altars for other gods in God’s temple (33:4). He sacrificed his own children in the fire (33:6). In short he—as Judah’s leader—led the people into such evil that they were labeled as doing “worse evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites” (33:9).
Despite all this evil, God still spoke to Manasseh (33:10a). God is so good. Way more good than we deserve most of the time. However, Manasseh didn’t listen (33:10b). I see myself here in a sense: senior year of high school the only thing I wanted was for God to speak to me, but unfortunately I missed His voice until after I graduated, because I was looking for an audible voice and didn’t touch His Word. God will get the elect’s attention somehow though, and we see that in the next verses.
When Manasseh ignored God’s voice—through the prophets, Law, or auditory voice—God didn’t give up on him. It was all part of God’s sovereign will for Manasseh’s life. God sent Assyria to take him to Babylon (33:11). If Manasseh won’t listen to God when it’s just God, maybe he’ll listen to God when enemies are pressing against him and have him captured. It took me declaring God a liar and calling myself an atheist and contemplating suicide in order to come to the point where I could be changed by God’s grace.
Manasseh was changed. In a dank, dark, dirty prison he humbled himself and cried out to God (33:12). He prayed and confessed his sin (33:13). God is so good that He brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and made him king again. Manasseh proved his repentance real by removing idols and altars to false gods and telling Judah to worship God alone (33:15-16).
Repentance means turning away from something to something else. Second Chronicles 33:13 ends with the words, “So Manasseh came to know that Yahweh is God,” which shows that he believed in God. True belief manifests itself with repentance—two sides of the same coin—and Manasseh displayed repentance too; 33:15 says, “He removed the foreign gods and the idol from the LORD’s temple, along with all the altars that he had built on the mountain of the LORD’s temple and in Jerusalem, and he threw them outside the city.” When people truly believe in Christ it intrinsically includes turning away from sin. This is why repentance is not a one-time altar call. The story of Manasseh is good for believers just as much as unbelievers. We all need God’s grace, and we all can do better at falling on our knees and repenting of our sins. I know I can. Real men bow down in repentance.
Unfortunately, godliness is not passed down genetically. Just as Manasseh was the opposite of his father, Hezekiah (33:3), his son, Amon, would follow his father’s original steps and do evil (33:21). Not only must we daily fall on our knees and repent, but we must cry out for God to grant repentance to our children. I should repent of not starting to pray sooner for my future children’s repentance.
Do I repent? Why not? How can I repent? What can I repent of?
God, help me to be quick to repent when I sin, and let my life be a life of habitual repentance in which I habitually choose You over sin. Thank You for choosing me over wrath. I should choose You over sin for that reason. I love You.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

To Preach or Not to Preach?

So, I haven’t updated my blog in a while. I’ll update you in general briefly. Dated a girl (goodbye New Year’s resolution) for four weeks beginning on September 25th. I’ve lived in Bolivar, Missouri at Southwest Baptist University since August 14th. It’s been lots of fun, other than now feeling alone again and trying to get back to the point where I can honestly say, “I’m single, and it’s totally cool.” It’s so hard to be content!!!
Since being out here I’ve preached five times. In front of people. I specify that because I’ve prepared sermons since the beginning of 2012 that I’ve preached to my computer. I’ve preached three different sermons over the course of the last month. First three times were Psalm 51; before the third, I preached a message on a Saturday on 2 Corinthians 5:14-6:2; finally I preached on Isaiah 44:6-8.
My sermon propositions (or main points/applications) were the following. In Psalm 51, King David teaches us to come to God in a bold, yet humble, and sure state of repentance when we sin, so that we can be bold in our worship, and a light to the world. In 2 Corinthians 5:14-6:2 Paul teaches us to so love the lost that we would go and gospel them so that they can believe and be saved. In Isaiah 44:6-8, Isaiah presents us with a glorious portrait of God’s sovereignty so that we can live our lives as bold witnesses for Him—the only God.
Now that I’ve preached every week for a month the question has again come to mind: Is this what I’m supposed to do? Or to parallel a Shakespeare character, “To preach, or not to preach, that is the question?”. I would say, “Absolutely!” I don’t know what else to do. D. Martyn Lloyd Jones put it well in his classic work Preaching and Preachers.
[T]here should also be a sense of constraint…It means that you have the feeling that you can do nothing else…I would say that the only man who is called to preach is the man who cannot do anything else, in the sense that he is not satisfied with anything else. This call to preach is so put upon him, and such pressure comes to bear upon him that he says, ‘I can do nothing else, I must preach’ (Lloyd-Jones, 118).
I’ve tried to find something else to do for a living as well, and every time I’m drawn right back to pastoring. “This is something that happens to you; it is God dealing with you, and God acting upon you by His Spirit; it is something you become aware of rather than what you do. It is thrust upon you, it is presented to you and almost forced upon you constantly in this way” (Lloyd-Jones, 117). It’s a fire burning in my bones. Like Jeremiah wrote in Jeremiah 20:9, “But if I say, ‘I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,’ Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it.” As much as it is demanding, time consuming, and intimidating to speak for God, I can’t think of anything else to do with my life.
I was saved in the summer of 2010 and all I’ve been able to think about is preaching since April of 2011. My call came in February of 2011 when I heard Shai Linne’s song “Expository Preaching” off the album, The Church: Called and Collected. In it he raps, “We got enough rappers, we need more pastors.” I tried to ignore it for a couple months, but finally I got to the point where I knew I should stop trying to fight it. And here I am, preaching every week (even twice in one of them) for a month.
However, while I totally know that I’m meant to preach, I’m very happy to not be doing it for a while. I feel like I’m starving while feeding others. I need to hear a sermon myself on Sundays. The way my church back home does it is awesome. Two preaching pastors, and a third one who fills in occasionally, preach two Sundays a month—two in a row—and split the four fifth weekends evenly. This way they get a two week break between preaching and receive rest. It’s exhausting to preach four Sundays in a row. When I have a church I’m going to stick with this pattern because I need weeks off. Preaching is a serious calling, and I need rest from it.

To preach or not to preach, that is the question; my answer is, “I must!”

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Biblical manhood 3--Taking Hold of Christ

My Biblical Manhood reading yesterday morning had me read about a woman whose faith I would like to emulate. It is centered smack dab in the middle of a bigger healing story, but the one about the woman is more amazing by far in my opinion. Luke 8:41-48 tells the story.
Just then, a man named Jairus came. He was a leader of the synagogue. He fell down at Jesus’ feet and pleaded with Him to come to his house, because he had an only daughter about 12 years old, and she was at death’s door. While He was going, the crowds were nearly crushing Him. A woman suffering from bleeding for 12 years, who had spent all she had on doctors yet could not be healed by any, approached from behind and touched the tassel of His robe. Instantly her bleeding stopped. “Who touched Me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are hemming You in and pressing against You.” “Someone did touch Me,” said Jesus. “I know that power has gone out from Me.” When the woman saw that she was discovered, she came trembling and fell down before Him. In the presence of all the people, she declared the reason she had touched Him and how she was instantly cured. “Daughter,” He said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”
It goes on to tell of Jesus healing Jairus’s daughter as well, but the focus is on the bleeding woman in this post.
Biblical men want nothing less than to take hold of Christ and the power He has. In the passage, it was a woman, but still. Taking hold of Christ is a necessary thing sometimes, like Jacob in Genesis 32:24-32.
Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that He could not defeat him, He struck Jacob’s hip socket as they wrestled and dislocated his hip. Then He said to Jacob, “Let Me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me.” “What is your name?” the man asked. “Jacob,” he replied. “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” He said. “It will be Israel because you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked Him, “Please tell me Your name.” But He answered, “Why do you ask My name?” And He blessed him there. Jacob then named the place Peniel, “For I have seen God face to face, and I have been delivered.” The sun shone on him as he passed by Penuel—limping because of his hip. That is why, to this day, the Israelites don’t eat the thigh muscle that is at the hip socket: because He struck Jacob’s hip socket at the thigh muscle.
This passage is very important to compare with the one of the woman, and I will get back to that in a couple sentences. The first thing to notice about Jacob is that He persisted in wrestling with God (vs. 25). Second, Jacob asked for a blessing before letting go (vs. 26). Third, Jacob wanted to know God more intimately (vs. 29).
This parallels the story of the woman who touched Jesus. First, she persisted in trying to solve her bleeding problem, turning to Christ as a last resort (Luke 8:43). Second, she was blessed by Christ (vs. 44). Third, she came to know Him more intimately (vs. 48).
This is amazing to think about. So often we waste all our time, money, and emotions trying to buy happiness, when in reality it’s only found in Christ. Learning this sooner, rather than later, will save tons of heartache.
Christ will bless us if we take hold of Him. Maybe not in a physical or monetary sense, but definitely in a spiritual—our greatest need—sense. The bleeding woman was healed because she took hold of Him. Her healing was not only physical, but also spiritual. If it had only been spiritual, she wouldn’t have been healed and we wouldn’t be aware that Jesus can forgive sins (Luke 5:23-24). She was healed of her greatest physical need and her greatest spiritual need at the same exact time.
If we take hold of Christ we come to know Him more intimately. The words Jesus said to the woman are amazing, “‘Daughter,’ He said to her, ‘your faith has made you well. Go in peace’” (vs. 48). He called her daughter, because she had been saved by His grace and was now a child of God. Talk about intimate. I want to hear Christ say, “Son, your faith has cured your sin. Go in peace.” Peace there is a wonderful phrase. When you’ve been saved by Christ, “the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). It makes no sense even to us. It surpasses every thought or notion we have of it. The interesting thing here is the verse immediately prior goes back to wrestling with God—taking hold of Him—in prayer. This peace that will guard us is the result of it. “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (4:6).
We need to wrestle with God and take hold of Christ every day. In every temptation. In every blessing. In every trial. Take hold of Christ. And pray!
Do I take hold of Christ? How can I improve?
God, thank You for allowing me to take hold of You. I pray You help me not let go as easily in the future as I have in the recent past. I love You and want to honor You.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Puffy Heart Filled with Rocks

“Dear God,
“Here’s the latest. My new year’s resolution, while I’d like to keep it, doesn’t have to kept. If I stick to it just to stick to it, I’m being a legalist. You see, there’s a girl I’m very interested in. Her name is ___(for her privacy)___.
“I don’t know what will become of it. I don’t know if she’s even interested. Part of me doesn’t want her to be, because a relationship isn’t practical right now. School starts in five months and all my time and money needs to go towards that. However, if it’s meant to be, it’ll work out somehow. You, God, are sovereign and You will work it out.
“Another part wants her to be interested. She’s the most godly girl I’ve ever met. Beautiful inside and out. Whoever ends up marrying her one day will be the luckiest guy on earth. The world is in need of more women like her. Bless her future marriage.
“If we’re meant to be, grow my desire. If not, kill it asap. I don’t want to waste time, energy, or emotions—mine or hers.
“Guide me and continue to prepare me for my future wife. I can’t wait to meet her. (Maybe I already have…only You know.)
“I love You, Lord! Whatever happens, keep my focus on You and don’t let me fall like last time. I’m living for Your glory.
“—Josh W.”

Thus I prayed a week ago and I’ve learned a ton since then. Here’s the rundown: I have a hard, prideful heart. I would have realized neither if the girl situation hadn’t happened.
She wants to be solely friends. I found out less than 28 hours after writing the prayer last Saturday. The point is that God killed my desire asap, just as I asked.
I was in the middle of reading The Discipline of Grace, by Jerry Bridges, at the time and this quote has been lodged in my mind ever since. “One further discipline is still absolutely necessary in the process of sanctification—the discipline of adversity or hardship. Adversity is not a discipline we undertake ourselves, but is imposed on us by God as a means of spiritual growth…The purpose of the discipline of adversity, then, is to make us more holy” (218). He goes on to write: “This does not necessarily mean a particular hardship is related to a specific act or habit of sin in our lives. It does mean that every expression of discipline has as its intended end conformity to the likeness of Christ” (223).
One of my friends made the comment, “Josh’s heart is like a diamond—it can’t get broken,” because he was trying to help me feel better about the girl situation not working out. I thought about it for a few minutes and I realized that regardless of whether or not a girl breaks my heart (this one didn’t) my heart doesn’t break when it should. I am a sinful creature and God has forgiven me; I should mourn over the sin in my life, but I don’t, because my heart has become hardened to the weight of sin. Luke 8:6, 13 says, “Other seed fell on the rock; when it sprang up, it withered, since it lacked moisture…And the seed on the rock are those who, when they hear, welcome the word with joy. Having no root, these believe for a while and depart in a time of testing.” I believe I’m in the good soil (as a believer in Christ) but there is truth to the fact that sometimes the ground dries up and turns into a rock (or weeds pop up at other times). Tears are moisture, and they water the ground so it doesn’t become a rock. My life lacks moisture, so I need to ask God to break my heart for what breaks His. If the girl situation hadn’t happened, my friend wouldn’t have made the comment and I wouldn’t have realized this truth.
Secondly, I’m prideful. What happened was this: several weeks ago my friend told me that the girl was interested in a godly guy (at our workplace I assumed). My prideful heart told me, “I’m the most godly guy I know, so it’s got to be me.” This brings up Proverbs 16:18, which reads, “Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.” If I’d never fallen for the girl, I wouldn’t have realized how prideful I am. My prayer used to be, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner” (Luke 18:13, NASB). When did I fall from that to think I’m super godly? Romans 12:3 explains that, “For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.” I was thinking of myself way too highly, and not being sensible at all. It led to a fall, but that’s for another time.
God, thank You for Your gace every day. Break my heart for what breaks Yours. I’m sick of being prideful and hard hearted. Keep me humble and repentant. I love You. Thank for teaching me these practical truths that I’ve been ignoring. It took falling for a girl to show me, but I’m glad You allowed it to happen. Thank You for letting us remain friends; she’s a great girl. I’m very glad I know her. As spoken above, her future husband is going to be one lucky guy. Bless her marriage. Prepare me for my future wife. Amen.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Biblical manhood 2--Giving People Jesus

Currently, in my Biblical manhood study, I am in the book of Acts, and a section that stuck out to me was Acts 3:1-4:4. It is the story of Peter and John healing a lame man in the temple complex. Acts 3:3-8 tells the main point of the story.
When (the lame man) saw Peter and John about to enter the temple complex, he asked for help. Peter, along with John, looked at him intently and said, “Look at us.” So he turned to them, expecting to get something from them. But Peter said, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then, taking him by the right hand he raised him up, and at once his feet and ankles became strong. So he jumped up, stood, and started to walk, and he entered the temple complex with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.
It goes on to show that it was an avenue for preaching the gospel to the people around him, but for now I’m going to focus on this section.
Biblical men give people Jesus in word and action. It can’t be one or the other. It needs to be both. Actions prove words true and may even give an occasion for words.
People in our world need help—monetarily, emotionally, spiritually—and we are here called to help them. We can’t live lives of selfish isolation, only worrying about ourselves and our agendas. We are to give people of ourselves, and thus give people Jesus. First John 3:16 says, “This is how we have come to know love: (Christ) laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers.” You cannot give up your life if you are selfish and hold onto Jesus for yourself and never share Him. And, while the verse speaks of brothers (Christians) we are elsewhere told to love everyone—even our enemies (Matthew 5:44-45). If you refuse to share the gospel with them, you don’t love them.
Spiritual needs aren’t the only needs people have. The passage in Acts proves this. Peter and John miraculously heal the man and people see it. They see them give Him Jesus in action and verses 9-12, 16 elaborate.
All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized that he was the one who used to sit and beg at the Beautiful Gate of the temple complex. So they were filled with awe and astonishment at what had happened to him. While he was holding on to Peter and John, all the people, greatly amazed, ran toward them in what is called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this? Or why do you stare at us, as though we had made him walk by our own power or godliness?…By faith in His name, His name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. So the faith that comes through Him has given him this perfect health in front of all of you.”
These people saw Peter and John heal the lame man and wanted to know more which led to a gospel proclamation.
The point is that sometimes, rather than just diving into the gospel, we should offer people something else first. Does your neighbor need yard work? Offer to mow his lawn for free.  Does your coworker need dinner? Offer to buy for the both of you. Does your enemy need his car washed? Offer to wash it (and do so carefully—no scratches). Selfless acts like these are what John meant when he wrote that “We should also lay down our lives for our brothers.” Doing good without expecting anything in return is exactly what is meant here. If you die for someone, you aren’t going to get another shot at living; so it should be with good deeds. Don’t expect benefits in return.
Verse six is still the central point of this passage. “But Peter said, ‘I don’t have silver or gold, but what I have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!’”
I don’t believe that it’s appropriate to tell a homeless person, “I have no money, but I do have Jesus. Listen to me!” Most of us, even if we have no cash, still carry credit cards and can easily go into a fast food place and buy something for the person and then share the gospel while they eat. If you care enough to cover a physical need for them, they will be more inclined to listen about their spiritual need for Christ. This is proved in the Acts passage. He asked for money. Peter said he had none. Then he healed him. Then he shared the gospel.
We need to give people Jesus in word and action.
Do I only use words? Or do I only use deeds? Either one, alone, is off-balance and wrong. I need both.
God, please help my actions give people Your Son and not just my words. Help my words center more around You as well. I need help in both of these areas.

P.S.     Maybe you’re wondering about the other part of my New Year’s resolution prayer. There is a girl on my mind these days, and I’m praying that it goes away, but I tag this on the end of this post because it also goes with Peter’s statement in verse six of Acts 3. “I don’t have silver or gold, but…I have…Jesus Christ the Nazarene.” I’m praying hard that she doesn’t become an idol, which is exactly the reason why I made the resolution in the first place. I need to realize that I don’t have much money, I don’t have much free time, I don’t have a girlfriend, but I do have Jesus Christ, and really, He is ALL I need to be content.
More later, (maybe) but for now know that this is where I’m at in my New Year’s resolution prayer. I’m praying for strength. If you could pray too, I’d appreciate it.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Biblical manhood 1--Correctly Preaching the Truth

Today I read the words of one of my favorite Bible characters and figured I would share what I learned from him. His name is Elihu and the only time he shows up in the Bible is Job 32-37. Job 32:6-8 and 17-22 explain the main truth that Elihu teaches about being a biblical man of God.
So Elihu son of Barachel the Buzite replied:
I am young in years,
while you are old;
therefore I was timid and afraid
to tell you what I know.
I thought that age should speak
and maturity should teach wisdom.
But it is a spirit in man
and the breath of the Almighty
that give him understanding…
I too will answer;
yes, I will tell what I know.
For I am full of words,
and my spirit compels me to speak.
My heart is like unvented wine;
it is about to burst like new wineskins.
I must speak so that I can find relief;
I must open my lips and respond.
I will be partial to no one,
and I will not give anyone an undeserved title.
For I do not know how to give such titles;
otherwise, my Maker would remove me in an instant.
From this, I quickly recognize that Biblical men preach the truth despite their age. They learn truth so they can share it when need be.
Up to this point, Job’s friends were telling Job that the reason life was so bad was because he had unconfessed sin in his life and God was punishing him for it; oblivious to Satan’s claim that Job would curse God if God let bad things happen to him. Bildad, Zophar, and Eliphaz—not to mention Job and Elihu—had no idea why so many bad things were happening to Job, but they claimed it was due to sin, going off a very low view of God. One that says, “God is holy and He will punish sin, and righteousness will be rewarded.”
All Job can say is, “I’m innocent. I help people (16:4-5), I don’t lust (31:1, 9-12), I confess my sin—I know I have some I struggle with (7:20-21). God is still with me (13:15).”
This is why Elihu comes in with words blazing. Job admits he’s not sinless, and he does good for others, but all Bildad, Zophar, and Eliphaz can do is condemn him. After a long speech by Job about why this treatment by God is not about sin in his life, he stops talking and the original three don’t speak. This is when Elihu says, “I am young in years, while you are old; therefore I was timid and afraid to tell you what I know. I thought that age should speak and maturity should teach wisdom. But it is a spirit in man and the breath of the Almighty that give him understanding.” This is reminiscent of 1 Timothy 4:12, where Paul tells Timothy to “be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” Elihu is clearly an example of speech in what he says and conduct in how he says it. He doesn’t yell and interrupt, he waits for a pause in the conversation.
So, in addition to me learning truth to be able to share it when need be, I need to learn the proper way to do it. I need to not fight to be heard; I need to wait for people to listen to what I have to say.
The last six verses of Job 32 explain more. Elihu says,
I too will answer; yes, I will tell what I know. For I am full of words, and my spirit compels me to speak. My heart is like unvented wine; it is about to burst like new wineskins. I must speak so that I can find relief; I must open my lips and respond. I will be partial to no one, and I will not give anyone an undeserved title. For I do not know how to give such titles; otherwise, my Maker would remove me in an instant.”
This goes to show that the truth of God is not meant to be held up inside of us. Elihu was about to explode, and I feel the same way often. However, the last two verses of the chapter are key. This goes to show exactly what Elihu was going to speak about. He wasn’t going to call Job a sinner or innocent, and he wasn’t going to blast the other three guys either. He was there to speak about God, and God alone. He wanted to point Job and his friends to God, and not himself. He even says that if he was to call them anything undeserved, God would remove him instantly.
If I’m going to be a man of God I need to preach the truth about God and let that convict people. I need to not just blast people about sin and judgment and then add the truth that Christ came for them. I need to preach that God is holy, righteous, all-knowing, creator, etc…
In closing, if you look at the end of chapter 37 and the beginning of 38, we see that heavy, true preaching of God will bring God’s presence and allow people to hear Him speak. Elihu says,
“‘Yet out of the north He comes, shrouded in a golden glow;
awesome majesty surrounds Him.
The Almighty—we cannot reach Him—
He is exalted in power!
He will not oppress justice and abundant righteousness,
Therefore, men fear Him.
He does not look favorably on any who are wise in heart.’
Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind. He said:
‘Who is this who obscures My counsel
with ignorant words?
Get ready to answer Me like a man;
when I question you, you will inform Me.’” (Job 37:22-38:3)
Elihu concludes, and God begins His discourse to Job by asking him when he became the know-it-all about everything.
If I’m to be a man of God, I need to make sure I prepare the ground for God to do His work. I prepare the soil, but God plants and grows the fruit.
Do I study the truth in order to share it or just to make me feel good about myself? Is what I say really truth, or just my ideas?
God, let me use my knowledge to help others. Don’t let me keep it to myself. Keep my teachings sound, please.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Resolved 2013

So, before I get into 2013, I want to recap 2012. I wanted to read the Bible through twice, finish the rough draft of my novel, Stranded, and finish my CD, L.I.L.F.Y.T.R.. I read the Bible three times, finished two drafts of the novel, and finished and am currently selling my CD.

So, with that said, 2013 could be successful as well. Except that my biggest goal is not to finish anything. Rather it is to start several things. It's also more of a prayer than a resolution.

Here goes:

"God, 2013 is upon me now. I have no idea what it holds for me or my family or my friends. I have no idea how it will affect my future. But I do know that You know it completely already so I can trust You in it wholeheartedly.

"That's easy to say, but not so easy to do. Give me the grace to trust You completely everyday. Help me get to know You more. Help me grow more in love with You. So much so that my current love looks like apathy in comparison. I need You LORD. Help me remember this everyday.

"I need Your help to be sexually pure this whole year. Let it be the first year of purity that continues for the rest of my life. Help me learn true purity. Just not losing my virginity is not enough. Just not doing things with girls is not enough. Just not looking at arousing images is not enough. I want to be pure; not half dirty. 1 John 1:9 says that the blood of Jesus cleanses me from all sin. I want to be cleansed of this sin this year. I can't do it alone though. I need Your help. Help me remember to run to You in time of need.

"In addition, keep me from pursuing any 'relationships' this year. I need to focus solely on You and grow in love towards you before I can ever hope to lead a woman. My flesh would love to meet someone. Help me overcome this. I need You, not a distraction. If she (the one) comes into my life this year, so be it, just don't let me pursue her until 2014. Give me the grace to accomplish this task.

"Finally, I want to learn what it means to be a biblical man. Help me find this in my Bible reading this year. Help me grow in this area. Men should not be selfish, so help me put on a selfless attitude. Men should not covet what they do not have, so help me learn contentment in You. Men should not be angry about nothing, so help me learn self-control. Help me learn more about what it means to be a man as well. Please give me the grace for all of this as well.

"God, I really hope this can all be a reality. It will be a huge struggle and a daily fight, but please give me the grace to accomplish all of this.


"Josh Wingerd"

Well, there's my resolution. I'll be updating my blog this year with thoughts, findings, and experiences of grace from this year.

Have a happy 2013.

Soli Deo Gloria.