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Have you ever felt it challenging to grow in your relationship with Christ?  Maybe you have even reached the point where you begin to point fingers at others…your pastor, your Sunday School teacher, your church as a whole…in an effort to make sense of why you seem to be floundering in your walk with Christ.  Now track with me here…don’t make assumptions that this is all just to get you to do your daily quiet time with the Lord.  That’s a great idea…but that’s not the point here.  One of the things that God continually reminds me of is that it’s through my obedience to my God given purpose that God challenges me and grows me.  I’m going to step out on a limb here and say that if you’re someone that is struggling to grow in Christ, you’re probably also someone that rarely shares your faith.  God’s given us purpose in this life through the Great Commission and it’s my experience that when I take steps to fulfill my purpose, God uses that to challenge me to grow. 

I’ll be the first to admit that if I don’t go looking for opportunities to share my faith, I don’t have an abundance of them on a daily basis.  That’s based on the assumption that the next time I need to talk to my boss, our Pastor, that I don’t need to share the gospel with him.  One of the ways I’ve been able to find opportunity is through app based games I play when I have a little spare time.  Recently I’ve connected with a guy that in initial conversation with me it sounded as though we were on a similar page.  We both talked about the Bible, referenced Scripture, talked about Jesus etc.  There came a point where he wanted to attend my College and Career Sunday School Group remotely via a voice chat app.  That was pretty exciting and at the same time a little weird because I’d never had someone want to do that before.  Before he would attend the first time, he wanted to chat with me to see if we were of the same “fellowship”.  My assumption was he was concerned about denominational distinctives, but boy was I wrong.   

When we finally got together to discuss his beliefs, I quickly found out that we were nowhere near the same page.  While I still don’t have a good grasp on what he believes, it’s definitely outside the box and definitely caused me to dig into God’s Word to try to address him.  In short, he believes that god mentioned in Genesis (Eloheim) is different than god mentioned from the Fall and beyond (Yahweh).  Hopefully you and I are already on the same page realizing that’s heresy.  His view of Eloheim is as father and loving.  His view of Yahweh is evil and violent.  He believes in Jesus but his viewpoint is that Jesus came to point people to Eloheim because so many had been deceived by Yahweh.  By extension, the church today is deceived and full of Pharisees.  This is just a little bit of a tangled web of belief he’s weaved over decades.  You can go google it yourself, this guy doesn’t fit in any major religion you’ve ever studied before. 

Once I opened this can of worms, I had to figure out how I could minister to him.  God had opened the door and I needed to at least do my best to speak the truth of God’s Word in his life knowing that short of a miracle of God, he would not be easily swayed.  Knowing that he had quoted Scripture before, I needed to ask what is really a baseline question…do you believe the Bible to be inerrant (without error)?  In doing so my hope was to either establish the foundation of the discussion that was to ensue.  Unfortunately, after a long conversation it was evident he didn’t believe the Bible was without error.  He denied much of the Old Testament and almost anything written by Paul…so not much left right?  One thing he does believe is inerrant…Jesus’ words and actions as seen in Scripture.  I know what you’re thinking…I thought the same thing…Jesus is the Word.  That would have been too easy…he’s a red letter Bible guy…words in red are what are inerrant.  Jesus said a lot of really good stuff that is quoted in Scripture…but if that’s all we have to work with…that’s tough.   

He’s not turned the corner yet, but I hope you see the challenge God has laid in my lap.  With every frustrating conversation I’m forced back into God’s Word.  Forced to make sure I understand why I interpret Scripture the way I do, forced to learn and be able to explain the Bible, and forced to trust the Lord because my Words are not near enough.  I’m not sure if he’ll ever be saved, I sure hope God works a miracle in his life…but the point is by my obedience to share my faith…God is using that to grow me in ways I could never accomplish hanging out with Christians and studying the Bible.  Most of us spend too much time with status quo Christians and not enough time doing exactly what God wants…witnessing to the lost.  Go find someone of a different religious background…atheist, Catholic, Jewish, Islamic etc…start sharing your faith, dig into the challenges that come with that, and I can almost guarantee you’ll begin GROWING THROUGH SHARING!  

Posted by Jeremy Shirley with
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Every year we have a retreat for Middle School Guys and their dads. This event is named Man-Up and the focus is on biblical manhood. I believe this topic is increasingly relevant and necessary for our young men. Each year, when approaching this topic, we have to ask “When does a boy become a man?”

The islanders in Vanuatu construct tall wooden towers, up to 100 feet tall. The tower has long vines hanging from different heights. As a part of a ritual, men will jump from this tower. This act of land diving serves as a passage into manhood for the boys on the island. Boys as young as five years old begin tying vines to their ankles and hurl themselves head first towards the ground. The further up the boys jump, the more masculine they are considered. This ritual shows strength, bravery, and faith—all qualities that the people value in their men. Through this ritual, the islanders are able to determine when a boy becomes a man—but what about for us?

There is a trend amongst young men in the United States referred to as “delayed adolescence” or “emerging adulthood”—the former being used as the primary, and arguably more accurate, term. This reference is to name the whole generation of young adult men who are extending their period of freedom and self-pursuits for years beyond what has been traditionally typical. An example of this is that currently, 58% of men in their 20s are married, while thirty years ago that percentage was 85%. Adult aged males, are living more like boys than men, pursuing video games and part-time jobs over careers and families. Our current culture has many potential men struggling to find meaningful purpose.

Christ-followers should seek to raise our boys into men who are successfully pursuing biblical purpose. A Christian man should be defined by his pursuit in following Christ, his sacrificial love for others, and his desire to work.

  1. Pursuing Christ: While this applies to all of mankind, it still carries high importance that, if men are to be the spiritual leader of their homes, that they are an active believer, pursuing Christ as they lead others to Christ. Matthew 22 states our greatest commandments, and as a creature made in God’s image, man cannot fully fulfill his purpose outside of following God. If we want the Church to raise godly men, it is necessary that they are guided in pursuing God.
  2. Sacrificial Love: Everyone loves a story where the hero risks everything for someone else; and we often want to be that hero! The concept of sacrificial love was exemplified in the love that Christ demonstrated on the cross and is then to be emulated by his followers. If a man is living for himself above all, he is missing his purpose. Men are blessed to be given the roles and titles of husband, father, brother, son, etc... Each of those roles presents an opportunity for a man to love someone more than himself, and in doing so, show a Christ-like love to others. Boys must be shown what this looks like by watching the other godly men in their lives.
  3. Work: Men were instructed to work from the very beginning, in the Garden of Eden. People are to work for the purpose of a myriad of things being accomplished. It is important that a work ethic is instilled in boys for them to see the value as men. While it may be easier to pick up a boy’s clothes, eventually there comes a point where a young man needs to know where clean clothes come from! Work is not a punishment but a necessity of life and it is important to help boys understand the importance of work and its role in a balanced life. Also, perhaps in a more important light, we are called to work for God. The purpose that many of the young men in America are missing can be found in a life that glorifies God through the work he has set for us to do! Churches are hungry for young men to invest their time and talents into the Kingdom. The goal is not a generation of workaholics—but rather a mindset that recognizes that work is a good thing for providing needs and for glorifying God.

The issue of delayed adolescence within young Christians is not solved through complaining about millennials--or through a three-point list within an 835-word blog. A boy does not become a man when he reaches a certain age, achieves a particular accolade, or reaches a certain life stage.  A boy becomes a man when they begin to live for God and others, in a way that fulfills their God-given purpose. If we want godly men, we need to invest in the young men around us through instruction, guidance, and being an example. I encourage you to invest in our young men with your prayers, your example, and your time.

Posted by Alec Erhart with

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