Welcome to worship at Christ Lutheran Church ---and welcome if you’re listening on the radio.
We’re going to start off this morning with an interview of a young man who is very excited about his Sunday School class.
VIDEO---“Juice Box Christian”
(For those of you who didn’t see the video, it features a 25 year old who is still in the primary grade Sunday School class.) What was the last thing he said?---“I’ve been in Mrs. Evans Sunday School class for 15 years now. I’m not going anywhere!”
How about you? Is your faith in Jesus going anywhere?
We’re here today because God wants everybody’s faith to be going somewhere, moving and growing closer to the Lord.
Last week, Pastor John helped us think about what God wants every woman to know. This week it’s “What God Wants Every Man to Know!”
We may know what the world thinks men should know. But until we know what God wants men to know, there will be an emptiness in us that we can’t fill in any other way.
Blaise Pascal, a French mathematician and philosopher, put it like this---
"There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ."
Men---what does God want you to know? What have you been created for? Football? Earning a living? Knowing where to find the elk and the trout?
Those are all fine and may be part of what God has created you for. But there’s much more.
Isaiah 43:7 “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
God has created you to glorify him!
And what it means to glorify God plays out differently depending on how he has gifted each of us.
Bryan Sirchio wrote---
“Where your greatest source of joy intersects with the needs of the world…Go and find that place and hear your calling at the crossroads”
When your gifts, your skills, make the world better---that brings glory to God.
And since our purpose is to bring glory to God, one of the things God wants us to know is who he is. We need to know God and his wisdom and his word.
Proverbs 3:13-18 “ Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed.
Notice that wisdom is described as “She”. Women---that might come in handy in discussion with your husband sometime!
God wants every man (and woman) to know his wisdom and word. God also wants every man and woman to follow him.
Luke 6:12-16 “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”
But we can’t become followers overnight. We need a place to grow.
Pastor Jeff Arnold writes--- "Jesus' involvement in a small group (12 apostles) is perhaps the most convincing argument for including such groups in the life of the local church. This is where relationships were born and nurtured. The majority of Jesus’ time was spent with his small group. Jesus used the small group context to teach and model spiritual knowledge, attitudes and behavior."
And God wants every man to know that he has a place for you in his group. We may think that the Lord only wants the intellectuals or the influential. But Jesus chose his followers not in the center of Roman sophistication, but along the fishing towns of the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
The 12 he chose were probably past the age when the cream of the crop, the best recruits for following a rabbi, had already started their training. Jesus knew that. It didn’t matter! He had different criteria. Jesus was looking for ordinary people open to his doing extraordinary things with and through them.
Extraordinary things happen in our men’s groups here at CLC. You’re going to hear about 3 of them in a few minutes
But why do we want to support men?
It’s not easy being a man or a woman these days---we all need support. And men AND women are equally important to God’s plans!
As Pastor John mentioned last week, women and men are of absolutely equal value to the Lord. Women and men are not the same but are of equal worth. And these days both women and men can be confused about expectations. At many times and in many cultures, men were expected to be the unquestioned provider. Sometimes that led to men being bullies, forcing their wants and views on their wife and family. That’s obviously not God’s will.
In past it was clearer for men---career, marriage, provide for your family. Now many men and women postpone marriage, if at all, and men are free to remain as boys. Sociologists call it perpetual adolescence.
As women have grown in status, some men have gotten the idea that they can sit back and let the women be the grown-ups. Of course, women can be perpetual adolescents too.
But men---God wants you to know that you are absolutely needed, not as boys, but as men. There are all kinds of studies about the importance of men in their kid’s lives. Kids with fathers involved at school are most likely to get A’s. Youth without highly involved fathers are at greater risk for substance abuse.
In studies of parent-child relationships, having a loving and nurturing father is equally as important to a child’s happiness, social and academic success as having a loving and nurturing mother.
Lee Strobel in his book “Faith of the Fatherless” showed that many well-known atheists through history — like Friedrich Nietzsche and Madalyn Murray O’Hair— felt abandoned or deeply disappointed with their fathers.
Vern Bengtson in his studies found that “fervent faith cannot compensate for a distant dad.” He saw that “a father who is an exemplar, a pillar of the church, but doesn’t provide warmth and affirmation to his kid does not have kids who follow him in his faith.”
It makes sense. If we say we follow the Lord and then treat our children with little love—a child could easily see those actions as what God is like. The father’s inconsistency could cause a child to question his heavenly Father’s goodness.
The examples are countless. But men---God wants you to know that you are absolutely needed in the church, in your family and in the world. Now that can sound like a heavy load. But the Lord knows you can’t do it on your own. In fact he doesn’t want you to! That’s why he’s created us to have families and friendships. And he personally gives us his support through his Holy Spirit.
Men---you’re not created to go through this life on your own strength, but on God’s!
At this time I want to call up 3 of our men’s group leaders. Bill Henderson, Bob Walker and Steve Peace.
Thanks for helping us emphasize what God wants every man to know!
Let me start by asking---
Why are you part of a men’s group? And what is your group doing right now?
Bill, Bob and Steve respond to these questions.
This all starts with growing our relationship with God and one important way is to read and study his Word. Individual time with God is important but studying with other men in a group is very beneficial as well.
2 Timothy 3:16-17---All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
This means that the Bible is God’s Word and the Holy Spirit will use God’s word to speak to us. Our journey with God is to trust in him and step out in faith a day at a time. To do this, we need to study the bible and allow the Holy Spirit to guide our steps.
Our walk with God is centered on his Word and building our relationship and trust with him and with other of his followers.
(See our website www.clcwhitefish.org main page under “Winter Small Group Studies” for specifics on our men’s groups and other small groups.)
And the second question is---“What’s one thing that God wants every man to know?
First---Steve---the importance of the Bible for men. It’s the source of God’s word and his way for us.
Next---Bob---the importance of service to the congregation and community. Why does serving matter? Jesus said---Love your neighbor as you love yourself. We share Christ’s light as we serve his people.
Third---Bill---the importance of fellowship with other guys. Good Christian friends matter in a man’s life for support and strength.
Let’s show these guys our thanks for their leadership!
Please talk with any of these guys to learn more. And if you have an idea about men’s ministry let us know.
There are many other opportunities at CLC for men to be involved. Work with children and youth, music, caring for the building and grounds, help in the kitchen, many others---all are equally important.
But our main focus today is on small groups---and Jesus set the example of a small group of 12 men. How about you? Are you ready to join a men’s group?
...to study God's Word
...to develop a network of care and support
...to deepen friendships
...to be challenged to listen and respond to God's will through the Holy Spirit
...to pray together
...to discover and develop God-given gifts
...to provide the opportunity to discuss and share ideas and feelings
...to be encouraged to follow Christ's example daily
...to affirm each other as unique men of God
...to enjoy fun, food and fellowship
Men---you need to know that your role is crucial. But please don’t hear that as a burden---hear that as an opportunity to add greater purpose and joy to your life.
And men, you need to know that what Pastor John said last week about all women applies to all men as well with a few minor changes---
“Your Heavenly Father is very proud of you. He loves you just as you are---you don’t have to do anything to be loved by him. He looks beyond your achievements to your heart. In his eyes, you are a strong disciple with honor and glory.”
You may say you don’t deserve that. Well, I don’t either. No one does.
Robe of righteousness.
But God the Father sees us with the righteousness of Jesus surrounding us and so we do have a new heart, we do have honor and glory no matter our past--- because of Jesus Christ.
That’s what God wants every man to know.
Women---how about a show of appreciation for all the men here today----men who matter so much to the Lord!