But the more that we wrap our minds and hearts and actions in our faith and in scripture the more that the lifestyle of discipleship can take hold of our hearts and hands and feet.
We do an event at our church called “Man Church”. Once a month men gather on Sunday evening to eat (of course), sing a few worship songs, and then have a devotional. The goal of man church isn’t so much about being “better Christian men” but rather furthering our lives of discipleship. As men, yes. But not only in a “man” type setting. The church always get a kick out of my announcement about Man Church not being a get-together where men sit grunting in the the woods. I think at times we can try to be so manly that we forget that most men (much like myself) would rather sit and have a good conversation as opposed to chopping wood!
One of the tenets of man church is to really drive and develop our lives of discipleship and the two devotional messages we’ve had so far have been centered around some challenges that force us to dive into our faith more than just what is an easy, daily occurrence. These challenges force us to be conscious of what we are saying, doing, and genuinely believing.
Last week we talked about being completely committed to a life of faith in Christ and wrapping our hearts and minds in our belief. I left the men with three challenges.
1. Read the Bible out loud with someone. It could be a family member, a friend, a church member, or anyone they wanted. When we read the Bible out loud with someone it is almost impossible to just walk away and not say another word. It spurs on discussion. We get an opportunity to hear other view points on passages and hear how people interpret scriptures through the lens of their own backgrounds. I believe being able to hear how others act in their faith expands our scope and helps us to deepen our faith.
2. Pray for someone new each day. The men have already been challenged to pray out loud over their families and to let their family members hear how they seek to intercede for them, now I’ve added one new person each day. It can compound and you can be praying for 30 people by the end of the month or you can just move to a new person each day. I get excited thinking about the implications of taking time in each of our days to pray for someone each day. Prayer is not as simple as glossing over a topic. We could just say “Dear Lord, I’m praying for Jared” and move on, but I don’t think we are really praying if that’s the limit of our prayer.
I think prayer requires much more heart and investment than simply saying the words. Otherwise we are treating prayer as an incantation. Prayer is something that is less about moving God and more about moving our hearts. It’s why we aren’t just to pray for those that like us and treat us favorably, but even those that hate us because in doing so it helps to soften our hearts toward them. We’ve seen what happens on a personal scale all the way up to a global scale when we stop utilizing love or even simple kindness as our main vehicle of action and belief and faith.
When we pray we dive into someone’s life. Our conversation with God is no longer centered on us, but rather is centered on God’s heart for other people. The more and more that we delve deep into that moment of honest and genuine prayer the more that our brush with the heart of God moves our hearts closer to God’s.
3. Write down Galatians 5:22-23 and place it somewhere prominent so that you have to read it each day. This isn’t so much about rote memorization, but about keeping the fruits of the Spirit (traits that are a part of the Holy Spirit that we have been given because of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives) at the forefront of our minds. The more these traits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control are on our minds the more likely we are to respond with the traits.
Churches are not full of perfect people. Quite the opposite. They are full of imperfect people that realize how imperfect they are. That means that we all have sin. We all do things that are disobedient and away from what we were created to do. We all respond in ways that we wish we wouldn’t have. But the more that we wrap our minds and hearts and actions in our faith and in scripture the more that the lifestyle of discipleship can take hold of our hearts and hands and feet. Much like the apostles we learn and grow and are shaped over time in our lives of continuously seeking Christ.