Posts Tagged ‘Discipleship’

Production Values: Fasting

Posted: 2011 09 06 by jmmllr in Discipleship
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First off, I want to apologize to all of you guys for taking so long to continue with this series. Life has a tendency to intrude – illness, a move across the country, starting new jobs … all of it makes blogging hard to get around to. Please accept my apologies for taking so long in getting back here.

That being said…

When I first proposed a study on the Spiritual Disciplines, the comments section filled up with a discussion about what fasting really entails. I’ve been dreading writing this post because there are so many ways to look at the discipline of fasting. Is fasting just relating to food – or can you fast from other things? What is the purpose of fasting – personal edification or the glory of God? Is fasting a necessary part of the Christian walk or something that we do in time of great spiritual need? How does fasting relate to prayer?

The thing about having lots of questions is that there are always going to be people who are on both sides of the equation. I don’t want to miss out on your point of view because I’m so buried in my own.

Can't see the forest for the trees

I could have said that I don't want to miss the forest for the trees ... also this made me smile ...

So let’s start where we know we’re on common ground.  (more…)

How do we know when we achieve the title of “man”?

I’ve heard it said that you are a man when you don’t have to ask if you are a “man”?

That might be true, but it might not. I’ve said before that I believe the journey to manhood is a lifelong journey. I’m not saying that we aren’t men before we die, but that we continue on the journey throughout life. The reason for this belief goes back to where I find the example of manhood. The Bible. Primarily the Gospel, but also in the Old Testament and the Epistles. In most of the books of scripture, we are given examples of men whom we can live like. Men with sin and failure as part of thier lives, but also with success and faith in God leading to salvation. In four books, the Gospel: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; we are shown an example that none of us can achieve, the example of Jesus Christ. We are also shown 12 men who try to live up this his example and fail.

In mentioning Jesus, I want to point out that here is a man, sinless and pure, who was sacrificed for the sins of all mankind. Obviously, you and I can’t match this example. What we can do is work toward this example. This journey is one that we will never get 100% right, but its also one that we can follow. So here’s my challenge to you:

Will you stand up and follow The Man, Jesus Christ? Will you spend time studying his walk and learning how to follow him? Will you make every effort to follow him, and when you fail, be honest with yourself and your brothers? Will you pick yourself up and continue down the road He has led you down?

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul

One of the questions I get asked is what I do to releve my stress. Working with my hands is an amazing stress relief.

Have you ever swung a hammer just for the pleasure of swinging it? What about running a whetstone down the blade of a knife, or drawing a sawblade across a board? The feel of working with my hands is one of those pure pleasures that I retreat to from time to time.

It’s not just the product of the work that relieves me either. It’s the smell of sawdust, the sound of the saw cutting through the wood, and the feeling of rough lumber becoming smooth. I love knowing that not only is the tension between my shoulders being relieved, the stress is being used to create something that I can look at for years to come. If you look at the things I have built, you can tell if it was a stress relief or just because we needed it. Nails or screws tell you this. If I want to relieve stress, I’ll use nails. There is just something about feeling the impact of the hammer on the nail head as the sharp ping cries out. I use screws when something needs to be done quickly.

Here’s the question for you to think about. What do you do to relieve stress? As men, we need stress relief. While we don’t run and hide from conflict like the modern Church often teaches, we also don’t seek it out. Because of this, we must be ready for the stress that comes from conflict, and also the stress when we actively seek to mollify instead of defeat a conflict. There are times when we will delay a conflict in order to protect someone, and this causes stress. There are also times when we are unable to reach a result that we find satisfactory. So what do we do with the stress from these events?

I’ve already told you one of the things I do, woodwork. Another thing I do is climb on my Harley for a ride. I also write. Each of these gives me a different kind of relief. A long ride on the Harley is great to leave my stress behind. It gives me time to release my thoughts and enter a world that is just me, the bike, and the road. Writing lets me put my stress or the things that cause the stress down on paper. Sometimes this can lead to a post here, or simply an entry in my personal writings, but it always leads to relief. Woodwork though, it allows me to combine pleasure with the work of relieving the stress while producing something.

Here’s my challenge to you, find something that relieves your stress that gives you a permanent product. Let me know how it works for you.

Oh…And Jesus swung a hammer for quite a few years, and we don’t read about him having any stress issues, do we?

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul

I’ve been mulling this one over for a while now. The question has been rolling around in my brain: what is it that prayer produces in the life of the disciple? And what on Earth does it mean for men?

As I was thinking about it I got my answer.

But first, I want to share some observations.

Men are wired to think through problems. I’ve said this before. We want to solve things, and God has blessed us with the genetics to go after problems at the source and root them out. We sink our teeth into problems, and don’t let go until we’ve bitten off a chunk. We obsess and find our drive in the places that we think we’re going to be the most useful.

Secondly, think of all the people that you know who are ‘prayer warriors’. How many of them are women?  (more…)

“YOU WANT THE TRUTH! YOU CANT HANDLE THE TRUTH!”

Ever since Jack Nicholson said that line in A Few Good Men it has been one of the most quoted lines in man movie history. It ranks right up there with “I think you need a bigger boat” and “I coulda been a contender.” And all of these quotes capture an inate inborn hunger of man, the hunger to be tough. The desire to be able to handle any difficulty that comes our way. The want to be a “man.”

The Truth is, only in following in the walk of Christ can you truly be a man.

The Truth is that it’s not an easy walk. Of all of the worlds religions, only Christianity demands so much for asking so little up front.

The Truth is that only the toughest man can truly answer the call.

The Truth is that every man is given the ability at birth to answer the call.

If you are here and you are still reading, you know that the one calling is God, but what exactly is he calling you too?

Jesus tells us pretty clearly that we are being called to pain, persecution, and hatred. John 15: 18-25 reads: 18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’

So let me ask you. Are you tough enough for the truth of what he has called you to. Are you ready to be persecuted? Are you ready to be hated? Are you ready to reveal the world’s sins to it to suffer for the revelation?

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul

On May 29th of 2009, a group of 45 Navy Seals were passing by Mike Monsoor, a sailor serving in Iraq. As they passed, Mike saw something rolling across the ground into the crowd of servicemen. He lept on top of it and it exploded, killing him, but not injuring any other the others.

In John 15:13, Jesus tells us, “No one has greater love than this – that one lays down his life for his friends.” This is the love that Mike showed for his brothers, men who he did not know, but who shared the uniform of the sailor.

John 15 shares much with the believer about abiding in Christ. We first hear about the vine and that we, as branches, must bear fruit. Christ’s direction to us in this chapter is that we love one another. This is not a direction for believers to love unbelievers, but for believers to love other believers. But with love being the english word for 4 different greek words, Agape (unconditional), Eros (romantic), Philia (friendship or brotherly), Storge (affection or familial), it is important to understand which love Jesus is talking about here. Throughout John 15, it is agape love which Jesus is using. This is the unconditional love which God shows for Jesus and for man. This is the love Christ calls us to have for our fellow believer, for our brothers in Christ.

So how do we apply this love, this unconditional support? As Mike Monsoor jumped on a grenade for his brothers, is there a grenade that you can jump on for your Christian brother? Remember this isn’t a grenade to protect the unbelievers, but to protect fellow believers. The grenades that we face are the grenades which can harm our walk with Christ. A few of the grenades I have seen in my walk are pride, convience, and passivity. Passivity is a big one for me. But how does one jump on this metephorical grenade? If your church’s youth need a leader, intead of stepping aside and hoping someone steps up, a biblical man will step up to fill the role, even if only while a better match is found. If a mission needs a strong leader, the biblical man will find a way to fill this role. The hardest passivity grenade to jump on is the one of standing up when you believe Christ is being misrepresented. To jump on this grenade, a man must be willing to stand up and proclaim Christ even though your proclaimation may bring hardship on yourself. This same grenade could be the one which you jump on by proclaiming Christ in the darkness, evangelizing to the world unceasingly.

Let’s take another look at Mike Monsoor. Jumping on that grenade cost 1 sailor his life, but in jumping, he saved the lives of at leat 45 others. He was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor post-humously, but that wasn’t the reward that draws the most attention. At his funeral, the pallbearers carried his rosewood casket down two columns of friends, well-wishers, and family. Unknown to the rest in attendance, the 45 Navy Seals who were saved by Mike Monsoor’s sacrifice were standing in those columns. As the casket passed each of them, they plucked thier trident from thier uniform, slapped it down on the casket, and saluted, before peeling off and following the casket to the gravesite. While the casket began as a simple redwood box, by the time it arrived at it’s final resting place, the Seals had made it a gold encrusted one.

For those who don’t understand the impact of those 45 tridents, here’s a breakdown of the significance. After one completes the Basic Navy Seals Program which lasts for three weeks, and is followed by Seal Qualification Training, which is 15 more weeks of training, necessary to continue improving basic skills and to learn new tactics and techniques, required for an assignment to a Navy Seal Platoon. After successful completion, trainees are given their Naval Enlisted Code, and are awarded The Navy Seal Trident Pin. With this gold pin they are now officially Navy Seals!

With the 45 slaps that were heard around the cemetary, the Seals were naming Mike Monsoor one of thier own. They were naming him a Navy Seal. They were calling him brother. They were calling him friend.

John 15 is Jesus telling us the same thing. The reward that we recieve for abiding in Christ’s simple words of “Love one another” is that of friendship. Christ tells us that we are his friends if we follow this command. Mike Monsoor showed his love for his brothers whom he had never met. What grenade will you jump on for your friends?

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul

Production Values: Meditation

Posted: 2011 07 06 by jmmllr in Discipleship
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Have you ever had a moment in your life where the Bible was painfully silent? When I graduated from High School, my Grandfather gave me a little black book called “God’s Promises for Your Every Need.” It had an index that you could turn to whenever you needed to hear what God says about a particular situation.

If this book doesn't scream TRUSTWORTHY, I don't know what does...

A couple of Summers later, my girlfriend – the first girl I ever loved (mothers and sisters aside) – broke up with me. I was devastated. I didn’t know what to do and wasn’t helped by the fact that my book didn’t have a section of “what to do when you get dumped.” Sure, I found inferences about the Heartbreak of God or the loss people felt about relationships. But none of it was quite what I was looking for.

The only helpful piece of advice that I got came from my former Youth Pastor. “Sometimes”, he said, “you need to stop looking for answers in the book and look for answers in the one who wrote it.”  (more…)

In the next couple of days I’ll be posting the first in my series on Spiritual Disciplines. I’ve been intrigued by the discussion (particularly around fasting) that has crept up – and that got me thinking: what is it about this topic that resonates so strongly with Guys? Why are guys drawn at all to Discipline? “Guy movies” promote what Roger Ebert has called a culture of permanent adolescence. Guys are perpetually immature and only settle down because society forces us to. Want proof, check out Hall Pass, Old School or any other movie in that genre. I don’t buy it. I think that guys are capable of more than culture gives us credit for.  (more…)

… To Meat

Posted: 2011 06 24 by jmmllr in Discipleship
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(You can read Part 1 Here)

I want to share two things I’ve noticed with you.

1. Being thirsty is fundamentally different than being hungry. People like Mohandis Ghandi have made their names on being hungry. But thirst can kill you – or at least make you a little bit loopy. Thirst needs to be quenched again and again. But hunger can prove a point. Hunger, not thirst is where the power is. And Guys (correct me if I’m wrong) are driven by power.

2. When I was in College, I worked as a waiter. And far and away, the greatest day to be a waiter is Mother’s day. Every restaurant is jammed on Mother’s Day. More than Valentine’s Day even, Mother’s Day is the single biggest revenue generator for the service industry. Father’s Day, on the other hand, gets hardly a notice in most restaurants. “Dad’s would rather Grill than go out to eat” is the assumption – and most Father’s Day cards back it up with a picture like this:

(more…)

From Milk …

Posted: 2011 06 03 by jmmllr in Discipleship
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This is my first real post.

And as I’m writing it, I’m sitting on the tarmac in Toronto, on my way to Chicago for my wife’s oldest friend’s wedding. It made me think about a scary statistic that I saw come out of this year’s national survey: that married couples are now in the minority in the US – and even moreso in Canada. I wanted to take this opportunity to encourage them for accepting the challenge of marriage, and congratulate them on their commitment of real agape love to each other.

I’ve wanted to blog about marriage for a long time: the theology, the wisdom, the fact that I see it as one of the opportunities in the next generation for Christians to distinguish ourselves from the rest of the world (assuming trends continue). But seeing as I’ve only been married for six months (give or take), I figure I’ve still got enough to learn that it might be wise to hold off on the marriage blog.

But I do want to talk about that stat. Here’s what I know: From an early age I very much wanted to get married. I was blessed to be raised by two parents who very obviously loved each other, and I wanted that. Turns out, I’m a minority. But that doesn’t it’s not true. Marriage starts with a thirst.

(more…)