“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
I am not sure how many men’s ministries experience the Holy Spirit on a week to week basis but ours sure seems to. I don’t say this boastfully or out of some self-serving pride, I just feel it there and am amazed.
We meet each week in a canvas outfitters tent behind a church in the woods. We have a fire pit going, cook good food and then dig in on whatever study God brings forward. Right now it’s the Bare Bones Bible Handbook, really good.
Last night as we studied the book of Jeremiah we had three testimonies (God drops those in on this group) from seasoned men of ministry who desperately want to walk with Jesus and are on a mission to know Him more.
The first was a testimony from Don. How after 33 years away from his hometown, church, family, he returned. He left there a young man who was done with the restrictions and was going out to prove himself the man. His return was as a ministry leader sharing Jesus and the outdoors with fatherless boys. He came back recruiting men to stand with him on that mission. His time there concluded sharing his testimony from the pulpit in the church he was raised. A triumphant man’s return with family in attendance. So rich, so powerful, so redemptive and pure.
Then there was the pastor Joe Don. A pastor of 40 years who reflected on the book of Jeremiah and how he sat in front of his mentor all those years ago as a young believer and shared his heart, “I believe God is calling me too ministry but I can’t speak in front of people, I can’t preach,” he proclaimed. His mentor asked him to open the book of Jeremiah and read from chapter 1. Joe Don’s ministry story began there. He was so moved by the tenderness of Gods heart in that moment years later he named his son Jeremiah.
Lastly me. I had heard from God over the last few weeks that to have “radical reformation” in my marriage of 25 years I would have to pray and seek Gods guidance. God spoke to me this week. I took a scrapbook and journals from past relationships and ceremoniously burned them in the fire pit. My heart for the guidance of Jesus was tender. He was removing things that stood between God, myself and my wife.
In all three of these moments we got real. Unusual for most men’s bible studies.
Don was obedient to his walk with Jesus and was enjoying the Spirit filled triumphant return to his hometown. Breaking off the old lies of the evil one and creating a new story, one where Jesus wins! We celebrated it.
Joe Don was an obedient young man, shifting his life from worldly desires to Jesus. He went seeking Godly advice and was giving direction that ultimately lead him to pastor untold numbers of people, families, generations to Christ. The God story of how what seemed to be the least likely path in his mind, the story the evil one wanted him to believe was not truth. We saw desperate obedience and God’s grace. Few things are as beautiful in a man.
Lastly, the words given to me seeking to redeem and rescue an okay marriage, “radical reformation,” to something incredible. Seeking a marriage led by the Holy Spirit. Don’t ask Jesus for things you are not willing to step into. Sin brought me to the altar (the fire pit). It was good.
God comes in that setting. A real group of men getting real. Not afraid to bare the brokenness we have. Our leaders lead by example and will settle for nothing less.
If you are not engaged in a men’s group you should be. We (men) need the comradery, sharing of hearts, relationships. Satan of course will tell you no, you got this. Our habits and hobbies may keep us distracted. Our egos and pride might surely take us out. Then there are the pretty men’s bible studies that give a group of men the ability to check the activity off their “good Christian guy” list for that week. There are no tears, no anger, no feeling of safety and comradery at a deep level. No confessions or the exposing of what is really going on in life, work, marriage, fear, pride, pornography or so much more we men face. Sadly, the yoke most men carry they will continue to carry alone.
Guys, we must be growing to be examples to the boys we are charged with caring for if we are KOZ leaders. We must expose those places we have built walls and made agreements with the lies of the evil one and we can’t do it alone. You are going to be confronted with the true hearts of the boys and what will you do with those emotions that come up for you.
Mathew 18:3, Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Jesus gave us that to know we need to be sensitive to our own hearts. You are not weak because you feel, you are stronger because you do.
I remember I was sitting in a men’s group and they were teaching what I needed to be doing, giving us a list of religious orders when I called “BS.” Challenge the leadership, “But how do I apply that in my life when I leave here, give me something real I can do.” Your heart longs for it, it may be deep inside but it longs to be heard and we can only share what we have. Find a solid men’s group or start one. The boys need you, so bring it.