I am starting a new study with my small group that I lead on Thursday nights. We are a group of men ranging from 18-26 years old. Men who are trying to figure out who they are suppose to be and who their going to marry. We are still trying to decide if we will continue our lives as boys running free or if we are going to be men and mature in our faith. This study comes from the book, "Mighty Man of God," by Sam Laing. This is the introduction letter I sent them.
As you know, these past few weeks, I have informed you that we will be starting a new lesson called, "Mighty Men of God." It is with great excitement that we are starting this. It has been a burden of mine for some time now about the state of men and how we are growing and who we are becoming. About 90 percent of this study will come from a small book entitled, "Mighty Man of God" by Sam Laing. I read this book last summer and it opened my eyes to so much. I was trying to find a balance between being a boy and running free and growing up and thinking about starting a family. One year later and this is still my go to book on the matter of growing up and manhood. Sam takes us through every aspect of what it takes to be a mighty man for Christ. It's challenging, thought provoking and a hidden gem among books about being a godly man.
If you would like, you can order it on amazon for pretty cheap, HERE.
I start out this study a week in advance. Some lessons may take you a week to accomplish. I urge you and implore you to do your best on being at the bible study each week. This study may not be for the faint at heart. I have prayed about this study and fully believe it is in our best interest. I would not be putting you through this if I didn't think it was possible. I love you guys and want to see each of you grow and mature in your faith. So, I start out this study with a letter. Just as Sam, the author, did with the men of his church.
This is the introduction letter:
What Does it Take to be a Mighty Man of God?
Strength, Honor, Nobility, Courage, Humility, Service, Love, Purity, Chivalrous, Warriors, Ready Men, Brave, Able, Prepared Leaders, Commanders, Undivided Loyalty, Experienced, Fully Determined, Valiant Fighters These are a few descriptions that come to my mind.
We are in a war. Not a war for territory or for political or economic power, but a spiritual war. This is a war for our own souls, for the souls of our families, and for the souls of men and women all over the world.
If we, the church, are to win this war, we must rekindle the warrior spirit in God’s people. And most important of all, it must be rekindled in the hearts of us, the men. Something must be done. Something needs to happen to us today and in the future. To become powerful, godly men we read about in 1 Chronicles 11-12 and 2 Samuel 24. Men who became men by the mere fact of being challenged.
The condition of manhood in our world is deplorable. Men are viewed as superficial, shallow louts. A goofy, foolish object of pity, the masculine gender is the butt of countless jokes and subject to an endless stream of ridicule. When was the last time you saw a man portrayed as a hero, as a person’s dignity, honor and grace?
Of their noble and sacrificial virtue? Not a superhero but a real life, Gospel centered, family enacted man.
Power hungry, brutish, violent, greedy, sports obsessed, conniving, lazy, aloof, cowardly, depressed... these are the words that now describe the men of today. And this is the man created in the image of God, who was given care and dominion over God’s creation, who was told that he was a little lower than the angles! Where are the men? Where are the men who will marry women and stay with them, faithful until death? Where are the men who will love their wives and stand beside them to raise the children and build a family? Where are the men who will lead our nations and guide our governments with wisdom and dignity? The presidents and leaders of today seem unable to remain faithful to their own wives, much less inspire a nation to greatness.
Men today watch porn and play video games to satisfy their cravings for pride and dominance. (I’m not putting down video games per say, but there is so much more we could do with our time and utilize the time we’ve been given. Be intentional with whatever you do.) Women watch “Magic Mike” and read “50 Shades of Grey” or watch “Twilight” to satisfy their cravings for power and to have someone who holds dominance over them. They’re looking to us and seeing a man who is a loof and not able to care for them. We need to get back to them and show them that we are able. That we are men who can satisfy their longing for responsibility and we can satisfy their desires.
Where are the men of God’s kingdom? Where are the men to lead the way in evangelism, prayer, in love and in faith? Is it not the Christian women who so often set the pace in spirituality, in numerical growth and in hearts devoted to God? More women hold bible studies, take a career in the mission field and lead in the family.
Are the single brothers in our fellowship mired in the same morass of selfishness and immaturity as the men in the world around them? Where are the men who could rise up and be leaders in our churches? Are they too wrapped up in their own pursuits, too concerned with making money and being comfortable? Where are the great heroes of faith we need to inspire our teens and students to inspire us all?
Are you ready to ascend to the heights of dignity and nobility that God intended for you when he made you? It is a call to forsake the paths of selfishness and vulgarity and become a hero who thinks of himself last and others first. It is a call to grow, to change, to step out and step up. It is a call to greatness, to be free of the chains of pride, fear and sensuality that have too long bound you. It is a call to conquer your weaknesses and fears, to leave them forever in your past as you forge onward and upward to your true destiny–to become a mighty man of God!
Homework: Read 1 Chronicles 11-12, 2 Samuel 24. Be prepared to discuss.
What’s the greatest thing you need to give up to become a mighty man of God? Be prepared to share.
I am currently reading, "Past Watchful Dragons" by Walter Hooper who was Lewis' biographer. He knew Lewis more than just about anyone else. "Watchful Dragons" goes into detail of Lewis' conversion to Christianity then explains how this caused him to write the beloved books, which are, "The Chronicles of Narnia." Below is an excerpt from Lewis' "Letters to Malcolm" explaining that the joys of this life fail in comparison to the joys in Heaven. Hooper uses this point to let us know that Lewis' got it. He understood that nothing compared to the "Joy of Heaven."
I do not think that the life of Heaven bears any analogy to play or dance in respect of frivolity. I do think that while we are in this "valley of tears", cursed with labour, hemmed round with necessities, tripped up with frustrations, doomed to perpetual plannings, puzzlings, and anxieties, certain qualities that must belong to the celestial condition have no chance to get through, can project no image of themselves, except in activities which, for us here and now, are frivolous. For surely we must suppose the life of the blessed to be an end in itself, indeed The End: to be utterly spontaneous; to be the complete reconciliation of boundless freedom with order—with the most delicately adjusted, supple intricate, and beautiful order? How can you find any image of this in the "serious" activities either of our natural or of our (present) spiritual life—either in our precarious and heart-broken affections or in the Way which is always, in some degree, a via crucis… It is only in our "hours-off", only in our moments of permitted festivity, that we find an analogy. Dance and game are frivolous, unimportant down here; for "down here" is not their natural place. Here, they are a moment's rest from the life we were placed here to live. But in this world everything is upside down. That which, if it could be prolonged here, would be a truancy, is likest that which in a better country is the End of ends. Joy is the serious business of Heaven.
Letters to Malcolm, C. S. Lewis
Past Watchful Dragons, Walter Hooper
God had an awesome way of directing the narrators of the Bible in how they interpreted events and features and the story of Esther is no different. The book of Ester is fascinating because we see events and key ideas being repeated over and over. During the time of Esther we see a prosperous kingdom of Persian and it’s capital city of Susa. King Ahasuerus is having feast after feast in his honor and displaying all of his royalty and grandness. Even these feasts are a common theme throughout the story. There are also many things that happen in pairs throughout the story. For instance, we see two decrees; both accomplishing the opposite of the other. Haman’s decree was to kill all of the Jews in all of the provinces but Esther’s decree was to save all of the Jews.
Haman was King Ahasuerus’ right hand man. He was appointed as head of the officials who were with King Ahasuerus. Once he was appointed to his office he made a parade for himself, “and all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage.” (Esther 3:2) This filled Haman with fury and he not only wanted to hurt Mordecai, but also his people, the Jews. Haman brought this before King Ahasuerus when he told the king, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king’s laws, so that it is not to the king’s profit to tolerate them. If it please the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed...” (Esther 3:8-9) This set up the course for the rest of the book of Esther. After Mordecai learned that Haman wanted to destroy his and Esther’s people, he brought it before Esther while visiting her at the king’s gate. She then had to tell King Ahasuerus that she really was a Jew and her people were going to be destroyed. He found favor with Esther and issued a new decree. “Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows, because he intended to lay hands on the Jews. But you may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king’s ring...” (Esther 8:7-8)
The story starts out with feasts and ends with feasts. The story opens with King Ahasuerus throwing two major parties just to show off his riches and splendor. One to his officials and servants and the second to the army of Persia. We also see Queen Vashti having a feast of her own with the women of the palace. Once Queen Esther learns about the possibility of her people being destroyed, she holds two feasts for her king and Haman. She only tells the king of her concern after the second feast. Later, after the Jews “gain mastery over those who hated them,” after the 75,000 are killed, we see that they made a day of feasting and gladness, which is the first feast of Purim. Then King Ahasuerus instituted that the fourteenth and fifteenth of the month of Adar would be set aside for the Feast of Purim. If we do not count Queen Vashti’s feast while the king is holding his first feasts as being a significant feast then, we can see the repeated pair of feasts; Two feasts from King Ahasuerus, two from Queen Esther and two Feast of Purim.
There are, within the Book of Esther, paired featured that make the story much more interesting. Twice, Esther did not make known that she was Jewish; once while she was meeting with Hegai the eunuch (Esther 2:10) and again while all of the virgins were at the king’s gate by Mordecai (Esther 2:20). Twice does it say that all of the virgins (numbering around 400) gathered in the king’s palace; once while meeting Hegai (Esther 2:8) and again at the king’s gate (Esther 2:19). Haman consults with his wife and friends, once as what to do about Mordecai (Esther 5:10-14) and again after he leads the parade for Mordecai (Esther 6:12-13). Esther has two unscheduled appearances with the king; one to announce the feast she wants to have with King Ahasuerus and Haman (Esther 5:1-2) and we assume that the other is when she pleaded with the king to avert the evil plan of Haman (Esther 8:3-8). Two times, King Ahasuerus’ anger is abated. He is pleased once he remembers what happened with Queen Vashti (Esther 2:1) and again when he hangs Haman (Esther 7:10). It took two days for the Jews in Susa to destroy their enemy. We see in chapter 9 verse 18 that they gathered on the thirteenth day and on the fourteenth day, and rested on the fifteenth day. We also see that the decree for the Feast of Purim was to be two days (Esther 9:27-28).
This is all very important because it was a way of memorizing the story. During these times, people had to memorize what they heard, so they could re-tell the story. What little ways of writing they had, it was crude. Memorizing and re-telling was the best way to keep the story alive. These repeated and paired elements helped the listener to understand the story and they would pick up on these repeated elements and remember them. It was a way to organize their thoughts in their mind and pick apart what they needed to know to tell the story. It is great to see how God worked through the minds of the people and narrators of the Bible. It gives us a chance to see how they lived and told stories. We can now look at different stories and places in the Bible and see exactly what the author intended for their audience to hear and we can then take that and better interpret the Bible.
Perfect in Christ Jesus.
Do you not feel in your own soul that perfection is not in you? Does not every day teach you that? Every tear which trickles from your eye, weeps imperfection; every harsh word which proceeds from your lip, mutters imperfection. You have too frequently had a view of your own heart to dream for a moment of any perfection in yourself. But amidst this sad consciousness of imperfection, here is comfort for you - you are perfect in Christ Jesus. In God's sight, you are complete in him; even now you are accepted in the Beloved. But there is a second perfection, yet to be realized, which is sure to all the seed. Is it not delightful to look forward to the time when every stain of sin shall be removed from the believer, and he shall be presented faultless before the throne, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing? The Church of Christ then will be so pure, that not even the eye of Omniscience will see a spot or blemish in her; so holy and so glorious, that Hart did not go beyond the truth when he said-
With my Saviour's garments on,
Holy as the Holy One.
Then shall we know, and taste, and feel the happiness of this vast but short sentence, Complete in Christ. Not till then shall we fully comprehend the heights and depths of the salvation of Jesus. Doth not thy heart leap for joy at the thought of it? Black as thou art, thou shalt be white one day; filthy as thou art, thou shalt be clean. Oh, it is a marvellous salvation this! Christ takes a worm and transforms it into an angel; Christ takes a black and deformed thing and makes it clean and matchless in his glory, peerless in his beauty, and fit to be the companion of seraphs. O my soul, stand and admire this blessed truth of perfection in Christ.
From Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, 1-28-2012
Not all the powers of heaven, earth and hell combined, could have dragged him from his celestial throne, and wrested the scepter of the universe from his hands. No, it was love alone divine, omnipotent love, which drew him down; it was in the bands of love that he was led a willing captive, through all the toils and sufferings of a laborious life; and it was these bands which bound him at the bar of Pilate, which fettered his arm of everlasting strength, and prevented his blasting his murderers.
Unless we could ascend into heaven, and see the glory and happiness which our Redeemer left; unless we could descend into the grave, and learn the depths of wretchedness to which he sank; unless we would weigh, as in a balance, all the trails, toils and sufferings of his life; never, never can we know the immeasurable extent of his love. But these things we cannot do. None but the omniscient God knows what he felt, or what he suffered; none but the omniscient God, therefore knows the extent of his love. To think of the love of Christ, is like trying to conceive of existence which has no beginning, and of power which can make something of nothing. Tongue cannot describe it; finite minds cannot conceive of it; angels faint under it; and those who know most of it can only say, with inspiration, that it passeth knowledge.
Excerpt from, Spiritual Treasure's from Edward Payson
Youth leader, your students can never cherish what they do not know. Train young people to love the Word of God and seek it out like treasure.
My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.
Youth leader, your students can never cherish what they do not know. One of the highest priorities for anyone who leads students is to equip and encourage their young people to love the Word of God. Few would argue the importance that the next generation be biblically literate. But how do we encourage students to not only know, but also enjoy their Bibles? It starts with how you approach it. In my experience, the reason so many young people in the church experience so little joy in Scripture is because they approach it like a tourist instead of treasure hunter.
Here lies our motivation for opening our Bibles: to deepen our joy!
A tourist will browse, but a treasure hunter will dig. A tourist will wander, but a treasure hunter will seek. A tourist finds memories, but a treasure hunter finds riches. A tourist usually ends up lost because they are unfamiliar with the landscape; a treasure hunter has a plan that keeps them on track. Though both types of people are looking for something, the fundamental difference between a tourist and a treasure hunter lies in the intensity of their desire. The following are three big, simple ideas I have used when teaching students to help young people both know and enjoy the Word of God.
1. ‘Use A Map’
Drifting off-course is never done intentionally—drifting is the natural by-product of not being intentional. As the old adage goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” When I was younger, I would (like many) open my Bible to a random page and hope for the best. Unfortunately I kept landing on passages of God killing people, so I decided to stop playing “Bible roulette.” A good Bible reading plan is like a good map: it provides us with direction, which then keeps us on track. There are literally hundreds of different reading plans that sites like YouVersion have made available (free of charge), which can also be downloaded as an app on most smart-phones. One important point to remember here: the reading plan is your servant, not your master. If you miss a day, just pick up wherever you left off. Your righteousness is not in the consistency of your reading, but in the Christ you read about.
2. ‘Dig Deep’
When reading the Bible, how much you understand is far more important than how much ground you cover. It is far better for you to read one chapter and understand one verse, than to 10 chapters and understand none of them. Mark down two or three of the richest verses and dig deep. Take your time as you read and re-read these verses. Pray over them. Meditate on them. Imagine you’re eating a $100 steak—chew it slowly and soak up every bit of flavor. Tools like the REAP study method (Read, Examine, Apply, Pray) can really help cultivate intentionality so you can dig deeper than a surface-level reading. Yes, sometimes reading the Bible is hard. In fact, the Scriptures even say that about themselves! (2 Peter 3:16) But the treasures gained far surpass the effort spent. In the same way that precious diamonds are rarely discovered aboveground, so too are the most beautiful gems of Scripture buried a little deeper than a rushed, surface-reading-on-your-way-out-the-door would allow us to discover. Spurgeon encourages us, “Make thorough search; for as in a king’s treasure that which is the most closely locked up and the hardest to come at is the choicest jewel of the treasure, so is it with the Holy Scriptures.”
3. ‘Read For Intimacy, Not Just For Information'
Youth pastor, this word is for you, too. If you’re only reading to get a sermon or a tweet, you’ve missed the point (and the joy) of opening the Bible. The great error of the Pharisees was they saw God as an ideal to strive toward instead of a person to be enjoyed. Remind your students (and yourself) that they are not checking a box or completing a moral duty, as if God were an angry middle school teacher demanding their homework. These are the living, breathing, life-giving words of our Creator who makes known to us the path of life, who captures us into the joy of his presence through Christ, and who alone satisfies the deepest affections of our hearts (Ps. 16:11). This is why in Psalm 119:162 the writer exclaims: “I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil!” Here lies our motivation for opening our Bibles: not to fulfill our duty, but to deepen our joy!
Come to the Bible like a tourist, and you’ll come away with a few vague memories. But come to the Bible like a treasure hunter, and you’ll find riches worth more than 10,000 worlds.
Blog post by Adam Ramsey from, The Resurgence.com