Monster vs. Mourner. Taking a look at other men’s sins.


Guys, how does it make you feel when you see one of your Christian brothers fall?

If you’re honest, you may admit that it makes you feel good about yourself. Maybe even a bit superior to the one who fell. As you look back over the past few weeks you’ve made some pretty good progress.  You’re really moving forward.  You’re standing strong. You feel invincible!

Not like that guy, right?

It reminds me of the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector that Jesus told in Luke 18:10-14….

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.  

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.  

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

 

The Pharisee seems pretty pleased with himself.  His prayer time consisted of reviewing his position and good works.  He was proud to tell of his giving and sacrifice.  He was thankful that he was better than the sinners – the failures – who surrounded him. The tax collector, on the other hand, stood off to the side. He humbled himself before the Lord, acknowledging his great failure and need for God.  Jesus tells us that only one went away justified – and it wasn’t the one who had it all together.

I listened to a short devotional today – a recording by Thomas Brooks titled “Other Men’s Sins”.  It’s amazing what you can learn in just a little over two minutes.  I’d like to share it with you, too.  Maybe it will make an impression on you like it did me.

In the audio clip Thomas Brooks says we should view other men’s sins with sadness – that we should mourn their sins. When we do, it helps us recognize our own fallibility and even helps us guard ourselves against failure in those same areas. When we are truly grieved by other men’s sins, we’re reminded of our own fleshly desires and the temptations that we must face and overcome daily.  At one point in the devotion, he makes the statement “he fell today and I may fall tomorrow”.   When we think this way, we’re more likely to stay on our faces before God rather than lifting them up in pride.  We recognize our own potential to fall when we hurt to see other Christians fall.

And to those who do find pleasure in seeing a Christian fall, here’s a sobering thought…

When you rejoice at the failures of those around you, you are like Satan.

That’s what he does. He rejoices when a Christian commits a sinful act.  He laughs when a man of God fails.  He smiles the smile of pride when he convinces a Christian to disobey God’s word.  It gives the devil pleasure.  Thomas Brooks said men who are like this “are rather monsters than men”.

So where is your heart right now?  Do you mourn when you see a brother fall or do you find pleasure in it?  If we’re honest, most of us have probably been both the mourner and the monster at different times in our life.  Let’s agree together right now that we will love our brothers in Christ and help them get back up if they fall. Let’s pray that the sins of others break our heart and remind us of our own imperfection and need for God’s grace.  Because we will all need it.  No matter who we are.

Take a couple of minutes to listen to the clip from Thomas Brooks then leave your thoughts in the comments area below.

Strength & Honor.

Stop watching them go over the edge….


There was a story in the news recently that told of three young hikers who ventured over a guard rail at a treacherous waterfall and perished as they were swept over the edge by the torrential waters.  The article told of other hikers warning them with great concern to get out of the water and back into safety found on the proper side of the rail.  It described how one person will never forget the look on the doomed man’s face as his body was carried closer to the edge of the fall, knowing no one could help him and there was nothing he could do.  What a terrible, terrible thing.

I am the director of a Men’s Ministry leadership team and as I read this story it spoke volumes to me about why it is so important to have a healthy Men’s Ministry functioning in your church.  As I read and thought about the tragedy that occurred that day, I thought about how many men we are watching be swept closer and closer to the edge of disaster, to eternity without Christ, and how we must rely on more than just rules and safeguards to keep men focused on God and on the right path.

From what I read, there were no shortage of rules and barriers the day the hikers entered into the dangerous waters.  They were not even alone – others were there watching them and warning them of the impending danger that they could face.  Many well-intentioned people were shouting at them to get out of harm’s way.

So why didn’t they listen?

From what I gather, they crossed the barrier because it looked appealing and they felt they could handle the current and keep their footing.  After they entered the water they discovered that the slippery granite stone accompanied by the swift moving current was more than they anticipated and with no physical contact or ropes attached to the shore, they were easily swept to their death.  All those on the shore could do was watch at that point.  They were helpless.

How does this apply to men’s ministry?

We have to form RELATIONSHIPS.  We have the rules and we have the warnings and we even have the recommended barriers.  Unfortunately, at some point in many men’s lives, those things mean nothing and they venture across the guard rail and into treacherous waters.  Only then do they find out that sin is a slippery and deadly slope that will lead them straight to certain death –  spiritually and possibly physically.  Without relationships with these men, many times we feel helpless as we watch them being swept faster and faster to the edge of the waterfall.

What can a relationship do?  How can it change the situation?  

From the start it can prevent men from even crossing the barrier in the first place.  Being accountable to another brother or brothers in Christ is an important part of our Christian walk as a man.  When we feel weak, when we are entertaining thoughts of some sinful act or behavior, or when we are having thoughts of just giving up, that friend is there to encourage, pray, and offer Godly wisdom as Jonathan did for David.

Beyond that, if a man finds himself already being carried by the torrential currents of the river and he can catch no footing on the slippery riverbed, the relationship becomes an attachment to the shore.  Now he has a rope.  Now he has a means to be pulled ashore other than his own doing. We are able to encourage those who have made wrong decisions and are in the middle of the raging consequences.  No, it will not be easy but we can be a lifeline – holding onto them through prayer, encouragement, and hope in Jesus Christ.

How much different it is to be able to reach out to someone you trust when everything seems hopeless – when it seems that the end is just ahead.  What a difference it could have made to those doomed hikers if someone on shore could have thrown them a rope or something to pull them back in.   But no one could.  No one was prepared for what was happening.

Put yourself spiritually into the shoes of those 3 and think of who you could reach out to if you were in the middle of a raging river of sin’s consequence.  Now, think of who could reach out to you if they were in trouble.  An effective, healthy Men’s Ministry can encourage  and provide opportunities for men to develop strong relationships with each other.   Mentorship and discipleship programs are great ways for men to get to know each other over a course of time.  Providing low pressure events for guys to just hang out and enjoy themselves is also important but always allow the opportunity for guys to share any needs they may have and would like prayer for.  You never know how close one of the men may be from walking away from everything,

While Jesus is the only way to salvation, He will use Godly men – men after His heart – to reach those who are lost and dying or who may have at one point followed Him but have grown cold in their relationship.  Be one of those Godly men, one who reaches out to other men around you.  Develop relationship and trust and encourage the men in your church to do the same.

It’s time to stop watching them go over the edge.

The Uncomfortable Truth About Eternity.


“Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

Does this verse concern you at all?  If not for your own life, for the multitude of people out there who believe that they are going to heaven but may not be?  People who assume that because they attend church, believe in God, and have been baptized, they are going to heaven?  It may even be you who believes this way – many people do.  The uncomfortable truth is that the bible speaks the exact opposite.  In fact, Jesus Himself told parables directed at this important question.

Both are found in Matthew chapter 25….

The Ten Virgins

In the parable of the 10 virgins the 5 unwise are left behind because they were not prepared.  They knew the bridegroom but were not ready for his return…

“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.  Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us! But he replied, Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.”

The Goats and the Sheep

To the ones separated as goats from the sheep, He said…

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.”

Wow, this is some strong stuff!   What does it mean?  It’s not about who we say we are, it’s about who He says we are.  It’s not just knowing who Jesus is, but being known by the Savior.  It’s about living for Him, loving Him, and doing His will.

It is absolutely imperative that we know the condition of our relationship with Christ.  Have we really given all to follow Him?  Is there anything in our heart that will separate us from Him?  Ask God to perform a thorough inspection – it’s worth it –  this is eternity we’re talking about, after all.  When we are sure of our relationship with God, it doesn’t stop there.  We need to share the truth with others.

It may not be popular or comfortable, but it is still the truth.

Are you willing to live by it?  Are you willing to share it?

The uncomfortable truth… about eternity?