Monday, July 4, 2011

Men in Crisis Part 2

This is a continuation of a message I gave on Father’s Day and to a men’s group the Saturday before. Whether you are a man or a woman, I hope you will read this:

III. What Should We Do?

After all I wrote in Part 1, you must be asking, “What, then, should we do?”

1. Draw Closer to God

a. Build Up Our Faith

First, as Christian men we must do everything we can to draw closer to God. God will build our faith and strengthen us spiritually when we open ourselves to his leading. So let’s strive to make room for God in our busy lives. How? We can start:
-By reading a daily devotional while eating breakfast;
-By praying and listening to Christian radio while commuting;
-By reading the Bible or a Christian book during your lunch hour;
-By having a time of prayer before going to sleep at night.

Regular prayer, Bible study, and attendance at worship are ways of keeping close to God.

b. We Are God’s Children thru Christ

Besides needing God in our lives, another reason we should draw closer to God is that God created us to have a close relationship with him. That desire for a close relationship is evident in God’s plan for humankind, which we see in the work of Jesus. Jesus came to earth to break down the barrier between God and us. When we place our faith in what Jesus did, we become God’s children, members of God’s own family, as we read in John 1:12:

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. NIV

As a result, we can actually call God our “Daddy” as in Galatians 4:6:

And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” NLT

When I say “Abba” you might be thinking of a Swedish rock group or the Broadway musical “Mamma Mia” featuring the music of ABBA. However, “Abba” is the Aramaic and Hebrew word probably best translated as “Daddy.” Our English word “abbot”, meaning head of a monastery, and the Arabic word for father “ab” both come from the ancient word “abba.” In Israel today, you can still hear children call their father “abba.”

As his children, God wants us to be so close to him that we can think of him as Abba, our “Daddy” – not out of disrespect but out of love. We read in Romans 8:15-17a that we are God’s adopted children:

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. NLT

As God’s children, we should make him the priority in our life, not just once a week or on occasion or when we need help – but all the time!

2. Encourage Other Men

In addition to drawing closer to God ourselves, we should encourage men, especially our fellow Christians. How can we encourage other men as well as our children?

a. By Our Example

First, we can encourage everybody by our example: our children, our grandchildren, our co-workers, our friends, and the folks at church. As I said earlier, there aren’t very many good role models out there, so we should set a good example by our behavior and trustworthiness. I read recently five ways fathers can influence their children for good:

1. Teach your children empathy by being sensitive to them, modeling generosity, and being involved in their lives.

2. Teach your children confidence by encouraging problem-solving and self-confidence by your words and actions.

3. Build up your children’s vocabulary by speaking to them as you would an adult, and defining words they don’t understand.

4. Protect your children from harm by affirming them so they won’t look for love and acceptance in all the wrong places.

5. Promote respect for themselves and others by reminding them that all are made in the image of God and are God’s beloved creation.

We should, of course, train our children in the faith, both by sending them to Sunday school and teaching them in godly values at home.

More on this topic of men in crisis in a future post.

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