Christian Men of Valor – “What manner of men ought ye to be.”

277208451_c8d219e030

The gospel of Jesus Christ is about liberation and freedom. Liberation and freedom from the bondage of sin and death. As Christian men of valor, we must keep ourselves from unwanted desires. When we set our foot on the path of righteousness, when we set our eyes on the Savior and redeemer – Jesus the Christ – and when we comply in fulfilling our duties, we inevitably strive to become men of valor.

Not a man who meets the standards of the world today. Men who have “awaken and arise” in order to begin the need to uphold the Gospel of Jesus Christ in his everyday life. One who possesses a perfect understanding and has liberating joy in our own divine heritage and birthright. Today, as Christian men of valor, our responsibility and duty is more profound than at any other time. We may do well in pondering and answering the question for ourselves – what manner of men ought ye to be?394abc5a8226319054eba7d4fa2fb0bd

Becoming a righteous man is not something we put off. We want to take action today. We are in need of searching our hearts and take a healthy inventory. Socrates is right when he shared an unexamined life is not worth living. If we are not examining our lives on a day-to-day basis by seeing how we are aligning ourselves to the truth of Christ’s teachings, then we are without purpose and meaning. In addition, if there is sin, we do well to confess those sins, repent of those sins, and forsake them. We are to turn no more to those desires that may keep us from fulfilling the unique responsibility and duty we have before our Sovereign God.

We are the light and example of what a true man ought to become. For our sons, we are the light and example on what they desire to become. For our daughters, we are the light and example of what a righteous husband and father is to her mother. To our community, we are the light and example of what a true man is and how we can share the love of Christ to all who are laden with heavy burdens. Through our example of service to our fellow neighbors, we show the love of Christ in all ways and in all things.

True Characteristics of an Honorable Man

Here are some essential qualities of an honorable and valiant man:

  1. We obtain a perfect understanding of who we are, what our purpose is, and how we are to be of service toward others.
  2. We are not delighting in any violent behaviors
  3. Our joy is based on the liberty and freedom our country provides and we do well to ensure that all people enjoy liberty and freedom
  4. We are productive, we labor for our own welfare, the welfare of our family, and the welfare of our community
  5. We are firm and bold in our faith in Jesus Christ and are ready to give a defense of the hope that lies within us
  6. We defend the very rights and privileges afforded by our constitution and by our own country, as well as by our own religious piety

As we begin to strive to become men of of Valor, uplifting one another, standing in bold faith on the founding truth of who Jesus Christ is and the message of the Gospel, we are strengthened. The very powers of hell may be shaken and the adversary will not have any power of the hearts of men.

Understanding our greatest desire and our greatest hinderance

The first step in coming to face who we are is by admitting two simple truths. One, our greatest desire is to experience happiness in this life. Two, our greatest hindrance is the very need to control. This requires us to shift our thought process toward how we define our sense of happiness and come to realize our need for control is merely an illusion.

We truly are not in control of our lives. This is quite a paradigm shift from the worldly mantra. The reality is, we have the very capacity to control our lives as we do in changing the direction of the wind. How much time, energy, frustration and emotional distress have we experienced in battling against things we have no control over?

Our own happiness is not in what is or is not happening. Our faith and happiness is derived from resting in Christ and in the truth of the Gospel as we continue to live out those characteristics. What this means is that since we have a natural desire to pursuit happiness, we inevitably have a desire to come to understand who we are, what our purpose is, and how we are able to be of service towards others. When we continue to think we have control over our life, we may very well act in a manner where we experience excruciating emotional pain.

Instead of attempting to flounder in the abyss of illusion of control, we begin to 5112ej+mW7L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
learn that as we awaken and arise to become men of valor, following the teachings of Christ, we develop an ever-deepening capacity to embrace life with justice, compassion, curiosity, awe, wonder, serenity, and humility (Shapiro, 2016; Introduction – Recovery, the Sacred Art).

Rami Shapiro shares this insight:

…God is the Source and Substance of All Reality: God is what is and what was and what is not yet. The more mature our spirituality is, that is, the more we embrace life with justice, compassion, curiosity, awe, wonder, serenity, and humility, the more we become aware of God in, with, and as all things.

Jesus Christ, in the sermon on the Mount, provides this wisdom:

Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? (Matthew 6:25)

Once we break free from the enslavement of our illusion of control, we begin to come to were we are capable of surrendering ourselves over to a Sovereign God. Various scriptures call us all to put aside the flesh, live according to the spirit, and strive to continue to be servants of righteousness (See, Romans 6:1-23).

Second, our happiness is merely an illusion as well. We desire to be happy, that is true. However, in our modern thought processing, our happiness appears to be contingent on the conditions and unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves and others. This is more so when it comes to the Christian life.

  • If God will allow me to get that better paying job, then I will be happy
  • If God will speak to my wife, then we will have a happy marriage
  • If my children will start listening and obeying me, then I will be happy
  • If God will just bring me a companion, then I will be happy
  • If God will simply just get me what I need, then I will be happy

This is deceptive, it is false, and it is unrealistic. Our true happiness is not on what God may be capable of doing for us, our happiness is based on whether or not we are content in our present season. Paul writes this:

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. (See, Philippians 4:1-13).

Therefore, our happiness is based on the reality that as we experience life, we are strengthened in all seasons. Whether we are prospering, or, whether we are suffering and are in need. We have the strength, the courage, the wisdom, and the power to endure because it is through our faith in Christ that we are able to manage.

We essentially have to stop playing God.

We surrender ourselves over to God’s Sovereign Will

After we come to terms with the reality that we do not have control. After we cover-37understand our happiness is not contingent on unrealistic expectations of God, self, others, and Life. We are now motivated to surrender ourselves, our life, and our very own natural will over to the Sovereign God we claim to worship and follow.

A practical and simple way we come to surrender over to God is by understanding this truth:

No one can “handle” life without help, particularly heavenly help. There comes that moment when it dawns upon us – and a singular moment it is – when we admit to the fact that our omnipotent, omniscient, and omni-loving God can do far more with our lives than we can. Humility ushers us into the realm of real submission and surrender. And, ironically, submission and unconditional surrender to the true Captain of our souls lead eventually to victory. “Thanks be to God,” Paul exulted, “[who] giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). In short, there is peace, there is rest, there is victory associated with doing things God’s way, through “giving heart and soul” to our Lord and inviting his active participation and direction in our lives. (Robert Millet: Men of Valor – Giving Heart and Soul; 2007).

Our ability to surrender to God’s divine and sovereign will is of utmost importance. However, we do well to be mindful of what type of surrendering we are engaging in.Total Surrender

Oswald Chambers shares this insight:

Our Lord replies to this statement of Peter by saying that this surrender is “for My sake and the gospel’s” (Mark 10:29). It was not for the purpose of what the disciples themselves would get out of it. Beware of surrender that is motivated by personal benefits that may result. For example, “I’m going to give myself to God because I want to be delivered from sin, because I want to be made holy.” Being delivered from sin and being made holy are the result of being right with God, but surrender resulting from this kind of thinking is certainly not the true nature of Christianity. Our motive for surrender should not be for any personal gain at all. We have become so self-centered that we go to God only for something from Him, and not for God Himself. It is like saying, “No, Lord, I don’t want you; I want myself. But I do want You to clean me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I want to be on display in Your showcase so I can say, ‘This is what God has done for me.’ ” Gaining heaven, being delivered from sin, and being made useful to God are things that should never even be a consideration in real surrender. Genuine total surrender is a personal sovereign preference for Jesus Christ Himself.

Where does Jesus Christ figure in when we have a concern about our natural relationships? Most of us will desert Him with this excuse— “Yes, Lord, I heard you call me, but my family needs me and I have my own interests. I just can’t go any further” (see Luke 9:57-62). “Then,” Jesus says, “you ‘cannot be My disciple’ ” (see Luke 14:26-33).

True surrender will always go beyond natural devotion. If we will only give up, God will surrender Himself to embrace all those around us and will meet their needs, which were created by our surrender. Beware of stopping anywhere short of total surrender to God. Most of us have only a vision of what this really means, but have never truly experienced it.

Our surrender is total, complete, whole, without any form of judgment, criticism, shame, guilt, or justification. We do not hold back. It is radical in that we give all of ourselves over to the care and will of a Sovereign God. We trust in him in all things, and in all ways. We trust in his wisdom, in his counsel, and in his word. It is a daily sacrifice.

Concluding thoughts

As we come to awaken and arise to the realization and wisdom that we possess a divine heritage, and begin to become men of valor in society today; we come to answer the question – What type of men ought ye to be? The answer is simple truth. We are to become the type of men that are a reflection of Christ himself. We are to become like Christ in the way we think, in how we engage, and in how we serve.

Our true identity rests in the personal revelation of who Jesus Christ is. Our greatest devotion is following Christ, putting to death our very own natural desires and tendencies. We live to follow God in all ways and all things. Then, and only then are we capable of not only becoming men of Valor, we become men who find liberation and freedom from the bondages of the unrealistic expectations of the world’s perceptive ideology of what a man ought to be.

Christian Men of Valor – Created in God’s Divine Image

Adam's Creation - Sistine Chapel - Michelangelo

There is no greater truth than this: We are the posterity of Adam and Eve. Through them, we have the understanding that a Sovereign God created them after His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). Perfectly innocent and with harmonious fellowship with God. Both, men and women, have a beginning. We did not merely evolve, we were created, fashioned, and designed by a Sovereign God who desires to have a meaningful and intimate relationship with each one of us.

In the last two articles: Christian Men Shouldn’t be Afraid to be a Man of Valor and Christian Men of Valor are Called to Awake and Arisewe explored what a Christian man of valor is and how we are to awake and arise. This article focuses on how we are to transform our lives into one that exemplifies the principles and virtues.

We begin by understanding the very heart of truth – our own divine heritage and nature.

What does it mean to be created after God’s image and likeness

The first principle truth, that comes to mind, is the idea that Adam was created with an impeccable nature and disposition. The Latin impeccabilis means “not to sin”. In the dawn of human history, prior to the fall of Adam, Man was created without a sinful nature. He was not prone to illness, plagues, or even death. Man existed with God and was given dominion to care for the creation (see, Genesis 1:26).

A second principle truth is provided by the following observation J. I. Packer makes:

Image means representative likeness—which tells us at once that we should be reflecting, at our creaturely level, what Genesis 1 shows God is and does. Therefore we should always act with resourceful rationality and wise love, making and executing praiseworthy plans just as God did in creation. He generated value by producing what was truly good; so should we. We should be showing love and goodwill toward all other persons, as God did when he blessed Adam and Eve (1:28). And in fellowship with God, we should directly honor and obey him by the way we manage and care for that bit of the created order that he gives us to look after, according to his dominion mandate (26, 28).

As men of valor, who come to awake and arise to the simple truth that we are created after God’s own image and likeness, we recognize how we are to be reflecting who God is and what God does. This is accomplished as we begin to:

  • Act with resourceful rationality and wise love
  • Making plans that are not only purposeful, they are executing praiseworthy plans
  • Generate value by producing what is truly good
  • Showing Godly love and compassion, and goodwill, toward other persons
  • Honor and obey God through our own act of stewardship over what He has given us

This begins with us returning to a nature and disposition that is impeccable before others and God. And, it is the most difficult aspect to accomplish. As, J. I. Packer further observes, we may still bear God’s image formally, we have essentially lost the divine image and likeness of our Sovereign creator substantially. We have lost our impeccable nature because of the fall of Adam:

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. (Romans 5:12-14). 

Adam was transformed from a divine spiritual nature and being to a mortal man who now is succumb to sin, diseases, and death. We have become subject to judgment, criticism, and compliance with specific laws. Where we once enjoyed direct fellowship and intimacy, we are now suffering real spiritual intimacy and connections with our Sovereign God.

Yet, the fall was not a travesty in God’s sovereign design and plan. As we read in the early pages of Holy Writ, we discover something that separated Adam from immortality and mortal existence. In the Garden, there were two trees that stood in direct opposition to one another. The Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God’s only commandment to the man and woman were to not partake of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. A spiritual law was established in direct opposition to another command – for Adam and Eve to multiply and replenish the earth. To bring forth posterity.

In ancient cultures, The Tree of Life is prominent feature of mythology, legends, and traditions. In the Latter-day Saint tradition and teachings, there is a passage recorded in the Book of Mormon that has the Tree of Life as a central theme. In Christian tradition, the tree of Life is typology of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.

lehi's dream 3

The importance of understanding the opposition between the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is simple, and yet complex and profound. Satan deceives the woman into partaking of the fruit of the forbidden tree. She, then, offers it to her husband. The passage reflects the instant transformation that has occurred. Awareness of their own nakedness. Shame and Guilt is experienced in their disobedience to the Law of God. Hiding self from their creator. Judgment and blame from the man to the woman, and from the woman to the serpent. Punishment for violation of the direct command of God.

What is interesting to note is the response the Sovereign creator provides in Genesis 3:22:

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

Yes, it is simple and profound truth man was substantially created after the divine image of God. In His likeness were we fashioned from the dust of the ground. What was missing from this is the attainment of knowledge. With knowledge, also comes wisdom. Had man not partaken of the fruit, we may not have the knowledge and wisdom we have. We may not have no understanding of opposition.

A Return to our Divine and Impeccable Nature

We are not destined for destruction and punishment. As Christian men of valor, we understand and know that through Jesus Christ’s Atonement, we are “born anew”. Paul expounds upon the “new creation” in the Book of Romans in an eloquent manner. Through Adam, sin and death reigns. In addition, so also does knowledge and wisdom.

Packer reflects that we all suffer because our natural disposition is one that …drives us all the time to be self-centered and self-seeking, and so robs us of the power to love God with all our heart, mind, and strength. We struggle to be without sin.

The only means by which we are able to transform ourselves is to experience the transformation of Christ’s atonement in our lives. We are “born again” by the Holy Spirit. We are to do well to begin living our lives toward a substantial means of restoring our divine and impeccable nature through Jesus Christ, and Christ alone.

Through God’s sovereign Grace, we come to reflect the image of Christ. This is accomplished by how we learn to be impeccable with our word. Meaning, we come to understand that what we say has significant impact on not only our own lives, it has a significant impact on the lives of others. It also means we come to be bold in our speech and actions.

Being impeccable with our word means

… we don’t use our word against ourselves indulging in guilt or shame. We also don’t use our word against others in blaming, criticizing, or gossiping. We also honor our commitments and only make commitments we intend to follow through on. (Miguel Ruiz – The Four Agreements)

The Four Agreements - A practical guide to personal freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz
The Four Agreements – A practical guide to personal freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz

In the confrontation between Christ and Satan, Jesus Christ responds with the simple truth: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).

God’s word is contained in the Bible. It is also contained in personal revelation as we come to reflect upon the scriptural truths gleaned from the pages of Holy Writ. For, the Spirit speaks to our hearts as we read from the pages and learn the truths of how to become Godly men of valor.

We come to learn that through God’s divine word, we are blessed, we are provided for, we are protected, and we become resilient in our faith. Through our word, we become bold.

How to become bold and impeccable

Paul provides insight in that we are to be transformed by the renewing of of our mind by which we offer ourselves up as living sacrifices that are holy and acceptable to God (see, Romans 12:1-2). We are fearless in that we are free from the entrapment of our own shame and guilt. We are free from our own prejudices and biased perceptions. We are confident in our own strength because we are confident in the strength and grace that is provisioned through Christ. We are confident in our relationship with Christ, and with our Sovereign God. Through obedience to God’s commandments, we come to honor him through our commitment.

Here are some key truths to become bold and impeccable with our word and commitments:

  1. We understand the power and strength our word has (James 3:1-12)
  2. We honor our commitments by following through on what we say
  3. We are not engaged in blaming, judging, criticizing, or complaining
  4. We strive to discover our own personal power and learn to live with clear purpose and intent through the Grace of God

We learn through God’s word that we are to take responsibility for our own actions in a manner that is mindful (meaning, without judgment or criticism). When the crowd brought the woman before Christ, His response reflects the very character of the crowd, “he who is without sin”, meaning any one of you who are impeccable in your own actions and manner of living pronounce judgment and criticism. When the crowd dropped their stones and turned away, only the woman was left with Christ. Addressing the woman, Christ asks, “where are your accusers?” He then requests the woman to depart and to go and sin no more. Meaning, to become a woman of virtue with a nature that is contrary to that which she previously disposed herself in being.

Christ says to us, “where are your accusers?” We sit in the seat of the scornful and judgment and cast stones in judgment and criticism. More so toward self, as well as toward others. As men of valor, we are bold and fearless in not being critical, judgmental, or even holding any biased suppositions. There is no pretense toward self or others.

Concluding Thoughts

Becoming Christian Men of Valor begins with awakening and arising. It moves toward understanding our divine nature and heritage. Whereby we are to become Men of impeccable and boldness through the transformation of God’s divine grace. We are born anew, through Christ’s atonement, and strive to become living sacrifices to have intimate and rich fellowship with our Sovereign God. We learn to move past our own judgments, our own shame and guilt, and move into the light of God’s divine truth. We understand this takes time as we cultivate a new way of living our lives. It is through our commitment in honoring God, we learn to honor ourselves and honor others. We come to live out Godlike character and come to realize that we are progressively transforming our hearts and minds into the image and likeness of Christ.

Christian Men of Valor are Called to “Awaken” and “Arise”

Gideon

We are called to be “mighty men of valor” 

~Judges 6:12~


Wherever we may find ourselves, there we are. Ordinary men, engaged in providing for our families, working within the community, and looking at our past, our present, and where we potentially are heading. As men, we may even concern ourselves with the type of legacy we may leave behind. What impact have we had? What influence have we made? Or, is it too late for us because we may feel that our very own destiny no longer appears on the horizon? The reality is that God is sovereign and we may experience Him in ways that refresh our faith and renew our hope.

Gideon, himself, viewed his life as mundane. He saw himself as the “least in my father’s house” (see, Judges 6:15). And, he viewed his family as the “weakest in Mannasseh.” The social climate Gideon found himself in appeared to be oppressive. Israel had succumbed to evil and the Midianites appeared to have impoverished Israel (see, Judges 6:1-7).

Christian men of valor are being called to awaken and arise. We are being called to become “mighty men of valor” as Gideon was called. Like Gideon, we too are called to face the enemies that surround us, including those thoughts and feelings that make up our own negative self-talk. It is time we awaken and rise up from the illusion of control over our lives.

A single most important question to ask ourselves?

It is essential we understand who we are. Our identity rests in the Sovereign God and Jesus Christ. Often times, one may find themselves asking, “what kind of man have I become?” The second question, “what kind of man do I yet want to be?” And, the third question, “What type of man is God calling me to be?

The first two questions appear to be easily answered. It is the third question we truly wrestle with. That is where we want to start. That is where true spiritual awakening occurs. It is where we cultivate a spiritual passion.

Richard Exley provides this in the first section of his book, Man of Valor:

Nothing is more important than what a man believes about God. How he perceives Him will determine, to a significant degree, what he believes about himself and how he relates to others. It will also define his interpretation of life and the meaning of events. Never is a man’s understanding of God more critical than in times of personal crisis.

Our defined perception of God does have an influence in the way we define who we are as men. Do we see ourselves the way society has come to define us? Or, do we turn to the word of God and see’s how God defines us? Notice how Gideon defined who he was compared to the way the Angel of the Lord defined whom he truly is. Gideon’s self-perception focused on his social identity within the conditions of Israel at that time. The Angel of the Lord saw him for who Gideon truly is, a “mighty man of valor.” In other words, the way we see ourselves vastly differs from the way our Sovereign God sees us.

At his trial, Socrates defended his philosophy and teachings. Out of this came his famous statement: An unexamined life is not worth living. This is recorded in Plato’s Apology. Socrates was ultimate condemned to death for what was believed to be an act of “corruption of youth”. The impact and reality of this phrase rings true today, especially for Christian men.

When we awake and rise up, we also come to examine who we are as we see ourselves in relationship to how God sees us for who we are. And, it is not just Gideon we see this encounter. Throughout Holy Writ, every time God has come to call men, he met them where they presently were at. Called them because of what God had seen and valued in them. How, through the course of fulfilling the calling placed upon their shoulders, each man was transformed.

As we awaken and rise up, we break free from the chains of bondage that has held us captive. We begin to awaken and open our eyes to the reality of God and our need for God’s sovereign grace and mercy. Our identity of who we think we are becomes scales that fall and we begin to be transformed into new men – men of valor.

We must come to wrestle with God

Each one of us come to “Wrestle with God” in not only understanding who He is, we come to understand who we are because the revelation of God. To understand this, we turn to the account of Jacob’s encounter with God and how Jacob wrestled with the Lord.

Dena Johnson provides an insightful understanding of this encounter in her article: How Wrestling with God Will Change You ForeverIn a similar fashion, a staff writer over at Desiring God published this article: Will You Wrestle with God? Both articles touch on the Biblical account of Jacob and him wrestling.

As Christian men of valor, we want to wrestle with God. Not to merely receive blessings, to receive strength, or even grace. We want to wrestle with God in order to define and refine our identity in Christ and Christ alone. It is how we see ourselves as “mighty men of valor” through the perception of how God see’s us.

This, hopefully, develops our spiritual passion toward seeing God for who he truly is and how he truly reveals himself to be.

Spiritual Passion begins by following after God

A. W. Tozer provides this unique observation, in his book The Pursuit of God

“No man can come to me,” Said our Lord, “except the Father which hath sent me draw him,” and it is by this very prevenient drawing that God takes from us every vestige of credit for the act of coming. The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after him; and all the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand: “thy right hand upholdeth me.”

Tozer also continues:

The man is “saved,” but he is not hungry nor thirsty after God. ... we Christians are in real danger of losing God amid the wonders of His Word. We have almost forgotten that God is a Person and, as such, can be cultivated as any person can.

We notice that all the men of the Bible, followed God as how God revealed himself to them. From Abel on down to the Apostles. As Christian men of valor, we continue to carry the legacy of the ancient prophets and apostles, we come to pursue God, because God has already pursued us. Our spiritual passion is derived from, what Tozer reports, “The moment the Spirit has quickened us to life in regeneration our whole being senses its kinship to God and leaps up in joyous recognition.” This is because we are created in His own “image and likeness” (See, Genesis 1:26).

Along with this, we are to follow the counsel of the Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:5. In the King James Version, the Greek for Mortify refers to being “deaden” or “subdue” our natural desires and tendencies. As men of Valor, our spiritual awakening requires us to rise up and subdue those things that will become barriers toward a healthy relationship with God.

It is when we enter into relationship with God, by and through the power of the Holy Spirit, having been regenerated and cleansed by the atonement of Jesus Christ, are we able to begin transforming our lives toward Godly purpose and meaning.

Concluding Thoughts

We know that scripture is true and we know that as we come to drink from the well of God’s divine words, we begin to grow into mighty men of Valor. Not who we desire to become, but how God desires to shape is in becoming the men of valor He destined us to be. Learning from the patriarchs of Scripture, the character and attributes they possessed, coming to pursue God and learning of God as He reveals himself toward us. Subduing our own natural passions and desires to become great men, and disciples, of Christ.

We awaken and arise to wrestle with our identity in Christ. We awaken and arise to find meaning and purpose through Christ. And, we awaken and arise to understand how we are able to be of service toward others as Christ works through us. When we come to understand these three principles, we become Christian Men who are Might in Valor.

Thoughts to Ponder

  1. Take a moment to reflect on how you have come to understand and believe about God’s character and nature. Are these attributes reflective of scripture, or based upon one’s own assumptions?
  2. What does it mean to “grow up” and become a “mighty man of valor” (see, Judges 6:12
  3. How often do you contemplate on what type of man you presently are today? What type of man have you considered becoming? What have you considered in relationship to the way others may remember you and the legacy you will leave?
  4. In what ways do you feel God is calling you to “Awake” and “arise” from your present condition and perception?
  5. Where in your life is there a need to undergo conversion, a mighty change? How is this conversion and mighty change going to be utilized in being of service to others?

Christian Men shouldn’t be Afraid to be a Man of Valor

sword

17757279_1299171396796677_8005545432930360648_n

If ever there was a time, if ever there was a season, if ever there was a cause that cried out for men of purpose and men of purity to step forward and draw upon the powers of heaven, it is today 

~ Robert L. Millet, Men of Valor: The Powerful Impact of a Righteous Man* ~


In his November 12, 2014 Op-Ed analysis piece, Christian Kachel observes:

The assault on males continues everyday through our media, best exemplified by the network television template for primetime sitcoms—from “King of Queens” to “Modern Family”, and “The Big Bang Theory”. Immature, usually overweight, lazy, spineless men navigate life by accident, dumb luck or with the help of superior female characters. While this may be reality for some, it reinforces the negative stereotype that any form of masculine behavior is to be marginalized, ridiculed and shunned.

The premise of his article appears to be about the cultural shift in America. He appears to comment how it relates to understanding modern masculinity. His polemic charge against the increase in dependency and entitlements appear to be grounds (at that time) to undermine traditional masculinity and perception; especially when it comes to the military.

Whether one accepts, or denies, the premise of Kachel’s Op-Ed analysis. We may want to draw our attention to the emasculation of men in American Culture today. We want to move from the demoralization of masculinity and bring back a proper worldview of how Christian Men today are not to be afraid to be men of valor.

What does it mean to be a Christian Man of Valor? 

In his book, Robert Millet provides an insightful observation:

  • We are to stand in the position God has called us to
  • We are to take up our cross on a daily basis
  • We are to deny ourselves of ungodliness and every worldly lust (see Matthew 16:24)
  • Our minds are to be occupied with uplifting thoughts
  • We are to ponder those things Paul wrote about in Philippians 4:8
  • We are to avoid any places, influences, or people that may degrade or dilute the power of Christ*
  • We are to rise up and reach out to make a difference

In the introduction of his book, Men of Valor, Richard Exley describes our struggles with this observation:

The enemies attacking us will not be soldiers on the battlefield but the inner enemies that war against our souls – things like fear, egotism, selfishness, materialism, lust, and the abuse of power. These are the enemies that ambush us at every turn, that threaten to rob us of our destiny. And these are the enemies we must defeat if we are to become the men God has called us to be.

Exley states he has “…identified seven characteristics possessed by valiant men throughout history and today.” These seven characteristics are:

  • Spiritual Passion
  • Courage
  • Loyalty
  • Integrity
  • Sexual Purity
  • Wisdom
  • Compassion

Millet’s book references more of the action men of valor take in relationship with their calling and living out according to scripture:

  • Need for men to Awaken and Arise
  • Focusing on the Lesser Things (walk the walk and not just talk the talk)
  • Giving heart and soul (Surrender to God and God’s Will)
  • Being United (Fellowship of believers)
  • Following after the manner of Christ
  • Christ’s Royal Priesthood
  • Acting in the name of Christ

Finally, we come to understand the nature of Valor itself. That being, Christian men of valor are those individuals who possess a boldness, determination in regards to facing difficulties through heroic courage and bravery. In essence, Valor refers to the strength and moral worth of men in today’s demoralization of masculinity.

Christian Men of Valor are Bold

What this mean’s is that Christian men are fearless, possess a freedom from the entrapment of those things that either degrade or dilute the power of God’s grace in our hearts. Along with this sense of fearlessness and freedom, we become confident through Jesus Christ in who we are as men. Confident in living out our lives daily for Christ. Confident in approaching the throne of God. Confident in our own faith toward God’s will and desire.

Christian Men of Valor are determined

Since we are redeemed through Christ’s atonement, we have a firmness of purpose. We become resolute in our faith and hope that lies within us. We continue to strive, to work toward, and achieve something that may become quite difficult for us. There is also the very act that as Christian men of Valor, we act upon our decisions to serve God, to exercise our faith in God, and fix our eyes on the settling purpose of God’s own word.

Christian Men of Valor are Heroic and Courageous

Through our commitment to God, to our families, and to our services within the community, we become daring to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We become noble in not only talking of Christ, we preach Christ through how we are living out those virtues and values that define us. We act courageously in following Christ that may be quite frightening. Despite our fears, we are able to persevere and endure because we receive strength in the face of any pain or grief we may face.

In addition, our courage comes as we are continually strengthened through Christ because we are acting in accordance to our beliefs – despite any criticisms that may come our way.

Because of our heroic and courage to follow Christ, we develop a mental and moral strength to continue to venture toward an increase of our faith. We persist, withstand, and face our own fears as it relates to those times of difficulty.

Christian Men of Valor show Bravery

Through all of the aforementioned values espoused, a Christian Man of valor shows an act of bravery by being valiant, fearless, confident in how they actively face and endure anything threatening or difficult. Through it all, we grow in our relationship with God, we exemplify the ministry of Christ, and we sharpen and serve other men in the hopes of inspiring them to become Valiant in their efforts in this time.

We should not be afraid to be Christian in today’s social climate. We also have no fear to be men of Valor in a social climate that appears to have long demoralized masculinity in a more palatable and socially accepted means to emasculate true manhood.

Call to Action

The hope is to inspire Christian men to come face to face with who they truly are – Men of Valor. It is also hopeful to inspire men to share with one another the nature and power of ways to become examples of valiant men to young men. Our society struggles with stereotypical identities that belay the reality that true manhood not resides in the gender itself – it resides in the characteristics espoused by those who truly identify themselves as men of God.

Therefore, your thoughts and discussions on this topic are greatly appreciated. Share this with others, ponder the thoughts, check out the resources provided, and let us awake and arise to the reality of who God has called us to become.

* Millet’s book is written from an LDS (Mormon) perspective. His principles fit well within the Christian Biblical Worldview of how we are to become men of valor.

4 Secret Ingredients for a Healthy and Authentic Christian Life

Want to know the four secret ingredients to a happy and sustaining authentic Christian life? Sure you do, especially if one is struggling with a crisis of faith, doubt, or moderately curious as to what the Christian life has to offer? These four secret ingredients are simple and practical. Want to boost your faith and relationship with God? Increase your own self-awareness and confidence as a Christian?Better yet, Influence people with the hope that lies within you (See 1 Peter 3:15) because of the authentic Christian life that is lived out daily.

We know everyone is chasing after something that, hopefully, will bring them some type of happiness. Better and healthier relationships, health and wellness, financial prosperity, a sense of liberation/freedom, and ability to have a sense of worth.  These are all good things. Yet, life is frustrating when we see ourselves without and wanting these things. To help us move into a richer and life sustaining authentic Christian life, we must look at what we are doing each and every day to maintain the following areas of our lives:

  1. Sense of Worth
  2. Sense of Freedom
  3. Sense of Fun
  4. Sense of Belonging

In addition to the above four simple principles, we must understand that these are things we do for ourselves, by ourselves every day. The question is, how do we gain a sense of worth, freedom, fun and belonging for ourselves and by ourselves as Christians?

1. Gaining a Sense of Worth

First, we all understand that confidence goes a long way. For Christians, we have an understanding that our confidence comes by and through Jesus Christ. This happens as we begin to align ourselves to walk according to the will of God and move away from walking according to our own will. This begins with understanding how we are a new creation in Jesus Christ (See, 2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV)

Ezekiel 11:19 (KJV) says this:

And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh (see also Romans 6:4 and Romans 7:6)

Once we receive this new life we start walking according to the will and desire of God. This occurs as we put off the old and take on the new man (See Ephesians 4:24, ESV). In Moroni 10:32, we read the following:

Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ, and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

Therefore, our sense of worth begins with Christ and comes because of Christ – who has conquered sin and death (see Romans 6:8-10).

Second, our sense of worth comes because we grow from faith to faith and grace to grace. Through our obedience to following God and live as Christ taught us to live, we become ever transforming through the process of sanctification. The more humble we allow ourselves to become, the more we learn to walk in humility. The more we practice empathy and compassion through acts of charity, the more opportunities we grow and move into more acts of kindness. Our faith grows all the more, even through adversity and trials.

Third, it is because of trials and adversity that we gain a greater sense of worth. For many of us, facing fears and challenges brings a sense of anxiety, maybe even hopelessness. Our focus is on what we are not able to do, our fears, concerns, and sometimes lacking in resources. However, it is because of these trials that we face, our faith in God (and in ourselves) grows all the more stronger. For instance, James 1:2-3 shares this insight:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Finally, as we grow in our faith, our confidence grows, as well does our relationship with Christ and the Father. We become intimate with them, we understand and know the voice of the Spirit. We are willing participants in our life. It becomes easier and easier as we gain confidence in knowing God is there and answers our prayers. This means, we develop a habit of coming to the Lord in prayer with our requests, and take time to meditate upon his word each and every day. Because, our faith grows through personal revelation. In combating Satan, Jesus Christ replied, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” This means through the scriptures, through prayer and meditation, through other Christian believers, and through messages that are delivered by those who preach and teach the message of the Gospel of Christ.

The question becomes, what are we doing to gain a sense of worth in our daily lives in moving toward an authentic and sustaining Christian lifestyle? Taking the simple steps here we, start developing the habits of moving closer to God, and closer to others. We face our trials with confidence, knowing it helps grow our faith. We rest in knowing that every day is an opportunity to walk with God through Jesus Christ as we relate to others around us. Our worth comes from Jesus Christ.

Because our worth comes through Jesus Christ, we are sustained and able to endure to the end no matter what happens in our lives. What steps do you need to take today to start gaining a sense of worth in your own Christian life?

2. Sense of Freedom

We are bogged down with a sense of “busyness” where we feel overwhelmed and frustrated. People struggle with various forms of addiction, debt, live in toxic/co-dependent relationships, or work too many hours. Life is not happy, and for some, it becomes almost unbearable. Many of us, essentially, seek to escape from the realities of our lives. Find solace, desiring a sense of freedom.

First, we come to understand that there are two types of freedoms in the Christian life. The first freedom is that from sin. Through Jesus Christ, we are no longer enslaved to temptation and sin. As mentioned in the previous section, we are new creatures through the redeeming power of Jesus Christ. The second type of freedom in the Christian life is living in an authentic life that continues to be liberating and not enslavement. This ultimate leads to a life with Jesus Christ, because we will essentially leave this mortal life and await until we are resurrected and receive our heavenly reward. Both of these types are interdependent with one another.

A careful study of Romans 5:12-21 contrasts the difference between Adam and Christ. Through Adam, we inherited a fallen nature that is susceptible to disease, temptation and sin. We become slaves to our own passions and desires. Through Christ, and his redemption, we are no longer bound to sin. We are indeed free from the effect of the fall and the consequences of sin.

Another careful study concerns the Fall of Humanity and the scriptural evidence. It appears to have been a necessity for the Fall. This begins with understanding the command to Adam and Eve in partaking of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. A Sovereign God placed two trees, the tree of Life and the aforementioned tree, in the garden of Eden. The only prohibition regarding the partaking of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. Without the fall, there is no need of redeeming humanity. In fact, a reading of the chapter in Genesis shows that the Sovereign God remarked how man had become like God in obtaining of the knowledge of Good and Evil (See Genesis 3:22)

This knowledge shows the powerful gift of moral agency within the human experience. Through our moral agency, we choose to live a life that is liberating or live a life that is enslaved to our own desires and passions. Through our choices we make, we are either blessed or receive a life that is cursed. In our lives, we strive to put to death the flesh of our humanity and strive to walk in the Spirit of light and truth where we are constantly transformed.

Again, through Jesus Christ, we begin to discover a sense of freedom for ourselves. The key to this blessed life of liberation is how obedient we are willing to come to a Sovereign God and lay down all our defects of character and allow the spirit of Christ work through us and in us. Constantly revealing areas in our lives that need constant work and transformation. After all, the Christian life is not only living in authenticity, it is an ever transforming process of change in the new life we are blessed with.

3. Sense of fun

When it comes to the Christian life, especially when we are discussing living in authenticity, one of the complaints arise from the concern that this life appears to be “boring”. Some may even go so far and describe the Christian life bland and without any excitement. Of course, this is all based on perception. As Christians, we are not to diminish ourselves from not enjoying life. There are many things we can do, ever so little, in our lives to gain a sense of fun. Fun at work, fun at Church, fun within our families, and fun within our communities. In fact, it may even be fun to utilize creative ways to find activities for ourselves to engage in.

However, one of the challenges is the false idea that in order to have fun, we have to be around others. Of course, it is fun to get together with friends and family. Yet, what are we doing to have fun for ourselves and by ourselves? This is where balancing out our lives come into play.

There are thousands of activities one may be able to engage in. Learn a new language, take classes to improve our talents, learn an instrument, discover hidden talents, anything that keeps our hearts and minds occupied. Always mindful to do all things that are worthwhile and beneficial.

4. Sense of Belonging

The final ingredient that will ignite and sustain and authentic Christian life is having a sense of belonging. While we are created to be in relation with one another (and God for that matter), there are many times an individual may need to “get away” and have some time alone. This does not mean we ought to isolate ourselves. On the contrary, taking time for ourselves helps us gain a sense of belonging. Taking a Sunday stroll on a nice afternoon and reflecting upon the message from the sermon. Volunteering our time to help those (most Churches are always in need of volunteers in various ministry).

In scripture, we read that Christ took himself away from his disciples and the crowds. Along with finding things a person is able to do for fun, one also may gain a sense of belonging through exploration. Journaling might be a good way to gain a sense of belonging as we reflect on the day and lessons learned in that day, how we are progressing in our walk and what has inspired us in living a transformed and authentic Christian life.

Lastly, we gain a sense of belonging in knowing that each day we live our lives, and we live it unto Christ, we belong to the family and Kingdom of God.

Therefore, as you go throughout your day, ask yourself – What am I doing in my Christian life to gain a sense of worth, sense of freedom, sense of fun and a sense of belonging? If you are new or questioning the Christian faith, ask yourself what it will look like for you to not only gain however, to implement ways to begin living an authentic lifestyle. Even if you do not come to know Christ, living a healthy life that is transformed and authentic requires an understanding of these four simple ingredients. They will ignite and sustain your life in a way that empowers and motivates one to move more toward a deeper sense of being and appreciation.Want to know the four secret ingredients to a happy and sustaining authentic Christian life? Sure you do, especially if one is struggling with a crisis of faith, doubt, or moderately curious as to what the Christian life has to offer? These four secret ingredients are simple and practical. Want to boost your faith and relationship with God? Increase your own self-awareness and confidence as a Christian?Better yet, Influence people with the hope that lies within you (See 1 Peter 3:15) because of the authentic Christian life that is lived out daily.

We know everyone is chasing after something that, hopefully, will bring them some type of happiness. Better and healthier relationships, health and wellness, financial prosperity, a sense of liberation/freedom, and ability to have a sense of worth.  These are all good things. Yet, life is frustrating when we see ourselves without and wanting these things. To help us move into a richer and life sustaining authentic Christian life, we must look at what we are doing each and every day to maintain the following areas of our lives:

  1. Sense of Worth
  2. Sense of Freedom
  3. Sense of Fun
  4. Sense of Belonging

In addition to the above four simple principles, we must understand that these are things we do for ourselves, by ourselves every day. The question is, how do we gain a sense of worth, freedom, fun and belonging for ourselves and by ourselves as Christians?

1. Gaining a Sense of Worth

First, we all understand that confidence goes a long way. For Christians, we have an understanding that our confidence comes by and through Jesus Christ. This happens as we begin to align ourselves to walk according to the will of God and move away from walking according to our own will. This begins with understanding how we are a new creation in Jesus Christ (See, 2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV)

Ezekiel 11:19 (KJV) says this:

And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh (see also Romans 6:4 and Romans 7:6)

Once we receive this new life we start walking according to the will and desire of God. This occurs as we put off the old and take on the new man (See Ephesians 4:24, ESV). In Moroni 10:32, we read the following:

Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ, and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

Therefore, our sense of worth begins with Christ and comes because of Christ – who has conquered sin and death (see Romans 6:8-10).

Second, our sense of worth comes because we grow from faith to faith and grace to grace. Through our obedience to following God and live as Christ taught us to live, we become ever transforming through the process of sanctification. The more humble we allow ourselves to become, the more we learn to walk in humility. The more we practice empathy and compassion through acts of charity, the more opportunities we grow and move into more acts of kindness. Our faith grows all the more, even through adversity and trials.

Third, it is because of trials and adversity that we gain a greater sense of worth. For many of us, facing fears and challenges brings a sense of anxiety, maybe even hopelessness. Our focus is on what we are not able to do, our fears, concerns, and sometimes lacking in resources. However, it is because of these trials that we face, our faith in God (and in ourselves) grows all the more stronger. For instance, James 1:2-3 shares this insight:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Finally, as we grow in our faith, our confidence grows, as well does our relationship with Christ and the Father. We become intimate with them, we understand and know the voice of the Spirit. We are willing participants in our life. It becomes easier and easier as we gain confidence in knowing God is there and answers our prayers. This means, we develop a habit of coming to the Lord in prayer with our requests, and take time to meditate upon his word each and every day. Because, our faith grows through personal revelation. In combating Satan, Jesus Christ replied, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” This means through the scriptures, through prayer and meditation, through other Christian believers, and through messages that are delivered by those who preach and teach the message of the Gospel of Christ.

The question becomes, what are we doing to gain a sense of worth in our daily lives in moving toward an authentic and sustaining Christian lifestyle? Taking the simple steps here we, start developing the habits of moving closer to God, and closer to others. We face our trials with confidence, knowing it helps grow our faith. We rest in knowing that every day is an opportunity to walk with God through Jesus Christ as we relate to others around us. Our worth comes from Jesus Christ.

Because our worth comes through Jesus Christ, we are sustained and able to endure to the end no matter what happens in our lives. What steps do you need to take today to start gaining a sense of worth in your own Christian life?

2. Sense of Freedom

We are bogged down with a sense of “busyness” where we feel overwhelmed and frustrated. People struggle with various forms of addiction, debt, live in toxic/co-dependent relationships, or work too many hours. Life is not happy, and for some, it becomes almost unbearable. Many of us, essentially, seek to escape from the realities of our lives. Find solace, desiring a sense of freedom.

First, we come to understand that there are two types of freedoms in the Christian life. The first freedom is that from sin. Through Jesus Christ, we are no longer enslaved to temptation and sin. As mentioned in the previous section, we are new creatures through the redeeming power of Jesus Christ. The second type of freedom in the Christian life is living in an authentic life that continues to be liberating and not enslavement. This ultimate leads to a life with Jesus Christ, because we will essentially leave this mortal life and await until we are resurrected and receive our heavenly reward. Both of these types are interdependent with one another.

A careful study of Romans 5:12-21 contrasts the difference between Adam and Christ. Through Adam, we inherited a fallen nature that is susceptible to disease, temptation and sin. We become slaves to our own passions and desires. Through Christ, and his redemption, we are no longer bound to sin. We are indeed free from the effect of the fall and the consequences of sin.

Another careful study concerns the Fall of Humanity and the scriptural evidence. It appears to have been a necessity for the Fall. This begins with understanding the command to Adam and Eve in partaking of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. A Sovereign God placed two trees, the tree of Life and the aforementioned tree, in the garden of Eden. The only prohibition regarding the partaking of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. Without the fall, there is no need of redeeming humanity. In fact, a reading of the chapter in Genesis shows that the Sovereign God remarked how man had become like God in obtaining of the knowledge of Good and Evil (See Genesis 3:22)

This knowledge shows the powerful gift of moral agency within the human experience. Through our moral agency, we choose to live a life that is liberating or live a life that is enslaved to our own desires and passions. Through our choices we make, we are either blessed or receive a life that is cursed. In our lives, we strive to put to death the flesh of our humanity and strive to walk in the Spirit of light and truth where we are constantly transformed.

Again, through Jesus Christ, we begin to discover a sense of freedom for ourselves. The key to this blessed life of liberation is how obedient we are willing to come to a Sovereign God and lay down all our defects of character and allow the spirit of Christ work through us and in us. Constantly revealing areas in our lives that need constant work and transformation. After all, the Christian life is not only living in authenticity, it is an ever transforming process of change in the new life we are blessed with.

3. Sense of fun

When it comes to the Christian life, especially when we are discussing living in authenticity, one of the complaints arise from the concern that this life appears to be “boring”. Some may even go so far and describe the Christian life bland and without any excitement. Of course, this is all based on perception. As Christians, we are not to diminish ourselves from not enjoying life. There are many things we can do, ever so little, in our lives to gain a sense of fun. Fun at work, fun at Church, fun within our families, and fun within our communities. In fact, it may even be fun to utilize creative ways to find activities for ourselves to engage in.

However, one of the challenges is the false idea that in order to have fun, we have to be around others. Of course, it is fun to get together with friends and family. Yet, what are we doing to have fun for ourselves and by ourselves? This is where balancing out our lives come into play.

There are thousands of activities one may be able to engage in. Learn a new language, take classes to improve our talents, learn an instrument, discover hidden talents, anything that keeps our hearts and minds occupied. Always mindful to do all things that are worthwhile and beneficial.

4. Sense of Belonging

The final ingredient that will ignite and sustain and authentic Christian life is having a sense of belonging. While we are created to be in relation with one another (and God for that matter), there are many times an individual may need to “get away” and have some time alone. This does not mean we ought to isolate ourselves. On the contrary, taking time for ourselves helps us gain a sense of belonging. Taking a Sunday stroll on a nice afternoon and reflecting upon the message from the sermon. Volunteering our time to help those (most Churches are always in need of volunteers in various ministry).

In scripture, we read that Christ took himself away from his disciples and the crowds. Along with finding things a person is able to do for fun, one also may gain a sense of belonging through exploration. Journaling might be a good way to gain a sense of belonging as we reflect on the day and lessons learned in that day, how we are progressing in our walk and what has inspired us in living a transformed and authentic Christian life.

Lastly, we gain a sense of belonging in knowing that each day we live our lives, and we live it unto Christ, we belong to the family and Kingdom of God.

Therefore, as you go throughout your day, ask yourself – What am I doing in my Christian life to gain a sense of worth, sense of freedom, sense of fun and a sense of belonging? If you are new or questioning the Christian faith, ask yourself what it will look like for you to not only gain however, to implement ways to begin living an authentic lifestyle. Even if you do not come to know Christ, living a healthy life that is transformed and authentic requires an understanding of these four simple ingredients. They will ignite and sustain your life in a way that empowers and motivates one to move more toward a deeper sense of being and appreciation.

Spiritual Disciplines for an Authentic Christian Life

Counsel6

Ours is an undisciplined age. The old disciplines are breaking down … Above all, the discipline of divine grace is derided as legalism or is entirely unknown to a generation that is largely illiterate in the Scriptures. We need the rugged strength of Christian character that can come only from disciplines

~V. Raymond Edman~


Good morning. Paul instructed Timothy to discipline himself for the purpose of Godliness (see, 1 Timothy 4:7). As we approach this morning’s devotion, let us pray that our hearts and minds are open to receiving the truth of what God reveals to each one of us through His Holy Spirit. In this series, we will be working through the spiritual disciplines of the Christian life. These articles are based on the Book by Donald S. Whitney Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. 

Spiritual disciplines are an integral part of the Christian worldview and experience. Whitney writes:

First, we must understand what we shall become. The Bible says of God’s elect, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). God’s eternal plan ensures that every Christian will ultimately conform to Christlikeness. We will be changed “when he appears” so that “we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2). If you are born again (see, John 3:3-8), this is no vision; this is you, Christian, as soon as “he appears”.

Spiritual discipline in the Christian life moves us toward fulfilling our calling and election in Christ. As Whitney continues: We aren’t merely to wait for holiness; we’re to pursue it. What are we pursuing that requires certain attention, certain disciplines? For the college student striving to obtain their degree, they discipline themselves to studying, researching, applying practical principles and concepts as a means to obtain the degree of study they are engaging in. In certain career fields, there are disciplines of competency for the individual to not only grasp and understand, they are to implement in practical course of business. So, too, in the Christian life, there are specific practical disciplines we come to understand and begin to live out day-to-day.

Our strive for Christlikeness is the crucial key for our own spiritual growth. And, without Christ and His infinite atonement, we are not able to see the Lord (see Hebrews 12:14). Furthermore, it is by and through the power of the Holy Spirit that generates new hungers toward holiness. We begin to hunger for the inspiration of the Bible. The Savior even testified to the fact that we are not to live by bread alone, we are to live by the words that proceed from God (see, Matthew 4:4). It is because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we begin to desire and pursue after holiness.

The goal of spiritual perfection is to develop and live out practical disciplines of the Christian life. However, we must understand what the personal spiritual disciplines are.

Whitney outlines what the purpose for spiritual disciplines:

  • Practices found in scripture that promote spiritual growth among believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ
  • These are activities not attitudes and therefore are practices one engages in and maintains
  • They are biblical based and are modeled within the pages of Scripture
  • These spiritual disciplines are sufficient for a person to come to know and experience God in their every day life
  • These spiritual disciplines are, what Whitney refers to, derived from the Gospel and not divorced from the Gospel of Jesus Christ
  • The spiritual disciplines are the means to achieving Godliness – or, Christ-likeness – through the transformation process of spiritual maturation in the Christian life

The ultimate goal, according to Whitney, of the spiritual disciplines for the Christian life is Godliness – that is, closeness to and conformity to Christ.

Managing a Biblical Worldview on Affliction Is Essential For Your Success. Read This To Find Out Why

afflictions-8

We do not like adversity. We question our own worth. Most of us wonder if there will ever be a time where we will have peace and happiness in our hearts and our lives. Since the fall of humanity, we have been plagued with pestilence, war, natural disasters, abuse, illness, pain, sorrow, injury, et al. In a world darken by sin, how do we manage an appropriate and Biblical worldview on affliction? It is quite essential for our success in a healthy and authentic Christian Life to understand the important role affliction plays, and the reality of truth the scripture speaks in relation to being afflicted. Related image

Illusion of Control and Fear

There are two main principles to convey and understand here. The first is that we may need to come to terms with the heart of fear. It is often quoted that we do not have anything to fear but fear itself (John F. Kennedy). What this means is that we fear our inability to overcome. Nothing more, nothing less.

The second principle coincides with our fear of our inability to overcome. In fact, it is probably humanity’s greatest weakness and addiction. Our illusion of having control over our own lives.

Rami Shapiro writes:

“What does it mean to play God? It means living under the delusion that life is controllable. It means lying to [ourselves] all day, every day, insisting that, with enough effort, [we] can get life to do whatever it is [we] want to do.” (Shapiro, Recovery, the Sacred Art, 2009).

From a more Biblical (and Christian) worldview, we come to realize that we do not have any control, and, we need only to fear God (in the sense of worship, praise, and being in awe of his divine Sovereignty).

What does the Bible say about affliction and our response to being afflicted? What is it that God teaches us about experiencing affliction in our own lives?

God sees our affliction and hears our cries of sorrow

In Exodus 3:7, we come to the encounter of the Most High with Moses. As we read, Moses comes to see a burning bush and is requested to take off his sandals. There, Moses engages in conversation with God.

And the Lord said, I h ave surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows.

Previous to this encounter, we read the nature of the sorrows and afflictions the Children of Israel were experiencing. In Exodus 1:8-14. We also read, that because of their affliction and their petitions to God (see Exodus 2:23-25) God remembered his covenant he made to the Children of Israel.

In the midst of our own trials, when we are feeling sorely vexed, we do cry out to God in our own sorrow, in our own affliction. Because He is sovereign and graceful, He bends to us and calls us to him. He hears our prayers.

2 Chronicles 20: 9 says that when evil befalls upon God’s people, that we are to stand and cry unto God in our affliction. This is because we exert our faith in the reality that God will hear and help us in our time of need.

How do we stand in petition God in our own affliction? 2 Chronicles 33:12 relates that we are to be “humble” and to seek after God.

We are not immune to affliction in our lives

Probably one of the greatest myth’s of the Christian faith is this false idea that once we become Christians, we will be immune to any form of affliction. It is not that we are instantly saved from anything that will bring sorrow in our lives. What we do know is that God will bring us out of those times we are being afflicted. Psalms says this:

Many are the afflictions of the Righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.

Again, we see that when we call to God (Psalm 88:9) He will bring us through whatever it is we are faced with. How does he do this? He comforts us in the midst of our sorrows, our mourning, our affliction (see Psalm 119:48-50). And it is not so much God himself that brings us comfort, it is His word (the Gospel, and the Scriptures) we meditate upon.

Affliction is the refining fire we walk through

What many of us fail to see is that the afflictions we face in our own lives are the very refining fire we inherently walk through. Isaiah 48:9 says this:

Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction

God calls us out of the most darkest parts of our lives. He meets us where we are most broken and in need of hope. This is the precious truth of the Gospel. It is not in our time of prosperity and doing well that he calls us (and we call unto him). It is during those times where every single ounce of hope has been extinguished and what we see as being impossible (or incapable) of overcoming, God speaks light, truth, and life into the heart of one that is dead.

Hosea 3:15 reiterates that we seek God in the furnace of our own affliction. We cry out to God in the “belly of [our own] hell” (See, Jonah 2:2).

Blessed are we because of affliction

Again, dispelling the false teaching that, if one is a Christian, therefore,we are not Related imageto experience any form of sorrow or affliction. Christ says, “blessed are they which are persecuted…” (Matthew 5:10). Following Christ evokes persecution and affliction. In Mark 4:17, we read that those who are not rooted in the truth of the Gospel of Christ become offended when they are afflicted.

We also know that scripture tells us that the last days will be filled with persecution and affliction (See, Mark 13:19). This is not just any form of affliction that has seen before. The passages reads that the affliction we will experience in these last days will be of such as had never before seen since the beginning of God’s Creation.

Minister to those in affliction

The greatest ministry of the Church (outside of the preaching of Christ Crucified and Risen again) is to reach out to those who are afflicted. To provide service to the “fatherless and the widow” (See, James 1:27). To help those who are afflicted to pray (See, James 5:13). We are to preach the Gospel, even in the midst of our own afflictions.

If you are experiencing any form of affliction, take a moment to let the Spirit of God speak to your soul. Have you cried out to God? Have you come to embrace your affliction as a gift of refining you into a person God is calling you to be? Are you reaching out to minister to other people? These are soul-searching questions we need to be asking of ourselves.

Finally, Christ is our greatest example of enduring affliction. Not only did he endure the Cross, he endured the painful torture of Roman Flogging. He endured the most difficult prayer and decision “father if it be thy will, let this cup pass before me.” Even Christ himself, the very Son of God, knew that his suffering, his afflictions were to serve a much greater and far better purpose than his need to survive. He lovingly submitted himself to the torture for our sake and our salvation.

No matter where you are at in life, God hears your cries, he knows your struggles, and He is graceful and merciful enough to meet you in the darkest hours.

Nothing is Impossible with God

How do we face our moments of crisis? In Matthew, a distraught Father comes to Jesus and requests the healing of his son. A son plagued with seizures. These episodes causes injury. When the Father reports that even the disciples of Christ were not able to provide the healing, what was the central point Christ focused on? The lack of faith.

We face trials in our lives. We tend to want to follow the path of least resistance. Yet, the reality is, we lack faith in ourselves, and inevitably lack faith in God. Today’s message is about facing the impossible. What we see as impossible, God makes possible. This is accomplished through the stretching of our faith.

Trust in Christ for a useful Christian Life

He that followeth me, walketh not in darkness 

~ 1 John 8:12, KJV ~


confiance

Read: Genesis 1-2:25; Psalm 1:1-6; Proverbs 1:1-7; and Matthew 1:1-25


These are the words of Christ, by which we are admonished , how we ought to imitate His life and manners, if we will be truly enlightened, and be delivered from all blindness of heart.

Let therefore our chiefest endeavor be, to meditate upon the life of Jesus Christ.

~ From, The Imitation of Christ ~

There is no greater example than that of the Savior. How he lived his life, what he taught, and how he related to His Father.

Today is the first day of a new year. Today, is the call to fully trust in a Sovereign God. We do this by placing our trust in Jesus Christ and strive to conform our lives to that which mirrors the life of Christ.

We are justified through the power of the Holy Spirit and justified by the righteousness of Christ – which is imputed upon us as we are set apart as disciples.

As we follow after Christ, we are led out of darkness and walk in the light of His Grace and love. We come to God with humility, seeking vigilantly to be ever conformed into doing the will of God. Seeking forgiveness when we have fallen short and forgiving those who have caused offense toward us.

True discipleship and true transformation toward a radical and authentic Christian lifestyle begins with radically surrendering our own selfish desires and wills over to God, accepting the grace and mercy of God into our own lives and learn to be conformed and transformed in our obedience to His divine will and desire.

Jesus taught, “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 16:25, KJV). Our very trust in Christ moves us toward a useful spiritual life where we become a blessing to others.

There is a blessed promise to the believer: …to be conformed to the image of his Son… (Romans 8:29), and we shall be like him (1 John 3:2). This is not something that happens over night. It is a process that begins with our act of trusting in a Sovereign God.

  1. Are you ready and committed in placing your trust into Christ and the saving work of His atonement?
  2. Are you hesitant in trusting in Christ? If so, what is the reason for your own hesitation?
  3. Trusting in Christ is not partial. We are either wholly committed and placing our lives in His or we are not – what is preventing you from fully trusting in Christ and the Sovereign Grace of God?

Today’s Prayer and Application

Father God, help me come to a place where I am able to fully trust in your will. 

Our Refuge and our Fortress

I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”

~Psalm 91:2 – ESV ~

~ Read: Genesis 7-8; Psalm 3:1-4; Proverbs 1:20-22; and Matthew 4:1-25 ~


On April 22, 1864, Congress approved the national motto “In God We Trust” to be printed on the 2-cent coins. Thereafter, this motto appeared on silver coins. The national Motto eventually was approved to be placed on all US currency by 1966.

Noah placed his trust in God. Despite the mocking of society, Noah followed God in building of the ark. A place of refuge and fortress for his family and those animals that were brought into the ark.

Obedience is the cornerstone to our faith in God. While Noah’s obedience led to God’s blessing and reward, the disobedience of his contemporaries led to their destruction.

~ Charles Stanley – Life Principles Daily Bible, NASB, 2011 ~

Our faith in Jesus Christ saves us from the condemnation and judgment of God upon those who walk in disobedience. Because of our faith in Christ, we are brought into the refuge and fortress of a Sovereign God’s love, mercy and grace. We still experience the pains and sufferings of mortality, however, our perspective is not anthropocentric, our perspective is spiritually based on a Sovereign God – whom we have placed our trust in.

We grow in our faith and trust in God by our willingness to follow Him in obedience. The savior says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. ” (See, Matthew 16:24 and Luke 9:23, ESV). This is a daily action on our part and it begins with our willingness to trust in Christ and our Heavenly Father. Trusting in the will of God as opposed to trusting in our own will.

Let us, therefore, continue to trust in the Sovereign God, our Heavenly Father, and His Son, whom he has sent – Jesus Christ. For Christ is our refuge and our fortress where we are saved.

  1. What is preventing you from entering into the ark of God’s grace and walk in obedience to His divine will?
  2. How are you committed in walking in God’s divine will and grace for your life today?
  3. How is trusting in your own will, desire and abilities preventing you from experiencing Heavenly Blessings and freedom through the Grace of God?

Father, you are my refuge and my fortress and I place my trust in you each and every day. Strengthen me to conform to your will and not mine. Draw me into your arms and guide my thoughts so that I emulate you in all things and in all ways. Help me with strength and courage to walk in obedience.