Gospel

Gentlemen,

The other day, my wife said to me, “I wonder if I haven’t been very gospel-focused in my life?” It startled me. My wife is one of the most gospel-focused people that I know. Her question was stimulated by reading Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Have you read it lately? It’s a book rich in gospel focus. In it Paul reminds us so much about how the good news of Jesus Christ impacts us. Ponder these things. The gospel produces love in us. It gives us hope. It is the word of truth. It bears fruit. It increases understanding. The gospel gives wisdom. It pleases God. It strengthens us with His power. The gospel delivers us and transfers us. It provides forgiveness of our sin. It is clear and Christ-centered. The gospel reconciles us with God. It is life-giving. The gospel allows Christ to dwell in us. It is the hope of glory. Ah, what richness we have when we accept Christ’s gift of good news to us. Believe, gentlemen, believe!

Seeking strength and courage in the hearts of men,

Jay

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Proclaim

Gentlemen,

May I indulge more on the theme of proclaiming? If Peter is correct that we were created to be people who “proclaim the excellencies” of God (I Peter 2:9), then paying attention to other places where the theme of proclamation is prominent could prove beneficial for us. For example, John is his first letter, a brief dispatch, mentions proclamation three times. In each instance, proclaim is associated with Jesus Christ. Is there any better focal point for the God’s excellence than Jesus? His life, death, resurrection, his inauguration of the Church, his Spirit manifest and at work in believers — are they not wondrous works worthy of amazement and awe? Oh, and our proclamation. Let’s be proclaimers of his excellence and supremacy. Shout it to the nations. Declare it to a neighbor. Announce it to your family. Make it known to a co-worker. Jesus is Lord of all. Quit blushing and start gushing. Our God is exceptional!

Seeking strength and courage in the hearts of men,

Jay

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Complainer

Gentlemen,

Recently while sitting with some friends, we drifted into complaining about today’s political climate and governmental trends. On our minds were concerns about the recent decisions by the Supreme Court. The following morning I was meditating on Psalm 145 when I ran across these words: “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations” (v. 13). This psalm is David’s meditation on the wondrous works of God. One of his confidences was the stability of God’s eternal reign. David proclaims it brazenly. Many years later, the Apostle Peter would speak equally boldly about our belonging to that kingdom. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). I must repent of my complaining and return to the ways of proclaiming. Therein lies my stability in this fallen world. The Lord reigns! Are you a complainer or a proclaimer?

Seeking strength and courage in the hearts of men,

Jay

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Joyful

Gentlemen,

Meditating on my lack of joy has been insightful. What hinders my joy? In fact, what is joy? Do I really understand God’s gift of joy and its benefits for me? After some mulling and chewing and dissecting, I believe that joy is infinite confidence and delight in God’s beneficial rule. Consider that definition in light of these great Scriptures: Look to “Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus endured the cross with infinite confidence and delight in God’s beneficial rule. Or, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2). When I face suffering, I can be confident that God reigns with goodness. So, Jesus desires for us to be joyful. He says, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:11). Why do I find myself stoic or angry? Reasons that I am not joyful include myopic vision of my circumstances, rejection of his authority, or doubt in God’s goodness. How about you? Where’s your joy?

Seeking strength and courage in the hearts of men,

Jay

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Beautiful Word

Gentlemen,

Some of you have aptly pointed out that I skipped number five in Mr. Bloom’s list of reasons for memorizing Scripture in the last Thoughts for Men. I offer my apologies. Here it is. 5) Because God’s Word will become more precious to you. Ponder that for a little while. How precious is God’s Word to me? Is it like honey? Do I long for it more than gold (Psalm 19:10)? It was so vital to Moses that he would proclaim it throughout the camp. David hid it in his heart. Jesus used it as a weapon to counter Satan’s attacks. Paul viewed it as the breath of God. John inexorably linked God’s Word with Jesus forever. What do I think? How does my life reflect my view of the Scriptures? I’m motivated anew to spend time meditating on the Word in such a way that it tucked into my being? Again, I invite you to join me.

Seeking strength and courage in the hearts of men,

Jay

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Me, Memorize?

Gentlemen,

Jon Bloom recently spoke on memorizing Scripture. His ten reasons for doing so are worth reflection. Memorize Scripture: 1) Because you have a bad memory. It won’t get better without practice. 2) Because you need to feed your mind (Philippians 4:8). 3) Because the Bible becomes accessible. 4) Because you have the Internet. The Internet is teaching us how not to read. We need deep reflection in our lives. 6) Because you probably don’t know the Bible as well as you think you do. 7) Because it will help you see more of God’s glory. 8) Because doing it will fine-tune your ability to discern the enemy’s lies. 9) Because you are going to suffer. Suffering is always disorienting. Memorized Scripture gives you a well from which to draw. 10) Because your brothers and sisters are going suffer and be in need. There are a host of great reasons for me to memorize God’s Word. Will you join me?

Seeking strength and courage in the hearts of men, Jay

 

Check out this helpful book by Dr. Andrew Davis.

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Repent

Gentlemen,

Repentance, what is it? I have been reflecting on its importance in my life recently. When I’ve done something wrong, I move quickly to hiding. Shame has long been a powerful, driving force in my world. Think about this: when I am hiding something it is about control. I move in such a way to have power over my world. I dictate what is to be known about me. Of course, I don’t want you to know about the ugliness of my sin. I must pay attention to this, because this pursuit of control indicates an unwillingness to be repentant because I won’t release my sins or my control to God. After all, God is ultimately in control. He is kind to bear with me. He unveils my hidden deeds and thoughts. Paul wrote to the Romans, “Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (2:4). My answer would be, “Yes, sometimes I do. If I am hiding then I most certainly am.” Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). When my hiding is exposed, I should run to God with genuine sorrow. He is interested in my good for His glory. Let’s pray for one another that shame and hiding would be greatly diminished more and more in our lives.

Seeking strength and courage in the hearts of men,

Jay

 

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Asking Questions

Gentlemen,

Most of us struggle in conversations. We grunt yes and no answers to questions, and then the dialogue gets emotional, we are quick to exit. This pattern doesn’t help our cause with our wives. They want engagement. We tend to resort to an exit strategy that we hope will get us out of the situation. Subversive marketing guru, Seth Godin, describes a similar approach while outlining the sale of Girl Scout cookies. “Most Scouts are taught to memorize a fairly complicated spiel, one that involves introducing themselves, talking in detail about the good work that the Scouts do, and finishing with how the money raised goes for this and for that.” He goes on to say that this is difficult work even for a professional, but for a kid talking to an adult, it’s frightening and unlikely to lead to a positive experience. Isn’t this what frightens us as we engage our wives? What if this doesn’t work? What if I can’t get comfortable? Godin offers a simple approach to the Girl Scouts; simply ask, “What’s your favorite kind of Girl Scout cookie?” He writes, “In less than ten words, all the Proustian memories of previous cookie experiences are summoned up. In one simple question, the power in the transaction shifts, with the Scout going from supplicant to valued supplier.” Men, that’s our lesson here. Ask questions that start conversations, questions that open the door to your wife’s emotion. Invite her to tell you about her world. Come on, what are you afraid of? Maybe you will find out that you offer to your wife a valuable supply that makes her life richer and better. If that’s the case, won’t your life be more meaningful in serving her?

Seeking strength and courage in the hearts of men,

Jay

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A Just Heart

Gentlemen,

In his book, Loving Your Neighbor, Mark Labberton makes an appeal for justice as a way of life. He uses a scalpel to carve the picture of three types of human heart. The first is the tyrannical heart, a heart that is evil and dispenses oppression on the weak. The second is the injured heart, a heart that is deeply broken because it bears the trauma of injustice. The second is often the victim of the first. By now you know I am pushing toward a question. You are asking, “Which heart am I?” Labberton suggests a third heart; this is the complacent heart. He writes, “Yet our hearts are weak and confused. Our hearts are easily overwhelmed and self-protective. They are prone to be absorbed with the immediacy of our own lives. Our hearts have the capacity to seek justice, but they are usually not calibrated to do so — at least not beyond concern for our inner circle. In a world of such hearts, virulent injustice thrives. Systemic injustice, the absence of the rule of law, and the suffering of so many innocents at the hand of oppressors rely on the complicity and distraction of our ordinary hearts.” Read that one more time. Now, which heart is yours? I have been all three. All I can do is throw up my hands and ask God to mercifully change mine.

Seeking strength and courage in the hearts of men,

Jay

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Argh, sin!

Gentlemen,

Sexual sin is uniquely offensive because it distorts the reflection of God’s intimate relationship with his church reflected in marriage. Sexual sin is serious stuff and repentance is demanded. Now Jesus said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:20-23). Sexual immorality is in that list, but what about those other sins? What about angry tempers, hard-heartedness, unbelief, presumption? How about pride? Have I used my time wisely?  What about failing to share the Gospel in the moment or being timid about my faith or right and wrong? What about the things I’ve omitted? Have I forgotten to extend justice, mercy, and love? Have I ever deceived another? Have I been untruthful in my dealings with others? Have my thoughts, words and deeds been pure? Have I coveted? Coveting is idolatry, saying I need God plus this or that. Have I hoarded or squandered the resources God has given me? Have I neglected God’s word or prayer? How have I limited God’s Spirit in affecting my life? And, what about the many sins I’ve forgotten? Please don’t hear this as a checklist of things we must do to please God. It’s not. It’s simple evidence that my heart is a mess and I need a Savior. Lord, hear me now and forgive me.

Seeking strength and courage in the hearts of men,

Jay

 

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