Every Man Is A Theologian | Be Strong
Zach Mabry | Be Strong
Are you going to be a good theologian or a bad theologian?
Men, we are called to be the ones leading and teaching others. People want to follow you. Our default is to take the easy way out, but we are constantly surrounded by eternal souls. We are examples.
What are you spending your time on?
What you spend your time on is what you value. We are easily distracted and consumed by worldly things and need to put entertainment in its proper place. Let’s study God’s Word, read good books, and work hard unto the Lord.
- Amusing Ourselves to Death
- The Weight of Glory
- Christianity from Modern Pagans
- Psalm 119
- Ecclesiastes 5:18-20
BE STRONG 2023
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View Transcript: Every Man Is A Theologian
We’re talking about what it means to be godly men, specifically Christian men in this culture. And what I wanna challenge you with is that if you know or believe something about God, you’re a theologian and our Christian culture… And what Spencer was talking about this morning, man, it was so good, every one of us, our default is to take the easy way out, we wanna do that. And so we want to opt out of being the ones who disciple people. You might be like, Well, you know, that’s why we have a pastor.
So the pastor, that’s his job, or you have a student pastor and you think he should be taking care of the youth, and so if the youth aren’t growing, you think, well, you can just complain. And that’s not what godly men do. This morning, when Spencer was talking, and he was saying, “God has called us to emulate Jesus as a prophet, priest, and king,” and you think, Well, I’m not naturally inclined to one of those, and he said his first advice was to, shut up. Man, we need that in our culture right now.
I don’t know if you guys have paid attention to our culture, but our culture is one of complaining, and my personal opinion is most of the social media is just complaining and trying to get other people to complain about you. And we’re experiencing in our culture, some really negative ramifications from that because we’re assuming that that’s natural, and that’s okay when it’s, not for Godly men. And especially as we’re reminded this morning that the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
And if you’re living in a way that’s contrary to that, then it’s contrary to the spirit of God. Alright, so I wanna challenge you guys to be the ones who are learning and who are teaching others. That’s my challenge. And I want you to understand that if you are… If that is you, then it will be counter-cultural, if you are gonna be a serious-minded godly man, you’re gonna be swimming upstream in this culture. And so what I wanna do is I wanna talk a little bit about how we got to where we are. I’m gonna read some really prophetic voices from the past, and a lot of what I have are going to be quotes from other people because, one, we naturally pay attention if someone is quoting someone…
I don’t know why we do that, but we’re like, “Oh, it’s written down. It’s gotta be more important than what this guy’s saying.” So I’m just playing on that, and so there are some really smart people that have said some things before, I wanna remind us of and challenge us with. And then I want us to also realize that you have been called… Oh yeah, here we go, yeah.
The Calling To Lead
You’ve been called… God has specifically called you as a man to be the leader. That means in your homes, in your churches, in your communities, at your workplace, you have been called to be the leader, and people are looking to follow you. Feel the weight of that. You are a leader, and you are leading in one direction or the other. Man, that’s heavy. And let’s remember that the people that we’re surrounded by, every individual you’re surrounded by every day is an eternal soul and that your life has consequences, your life is a series of drops that have ripples that go everywhere. And I want us to be asking ourselves, are we leading well? Because you’re leading, people are looking at you to follow you. In addition to that, you’re a theologian. If you think or believe something about God, you’re a theologian, and the question is not, are you going to be a theologian, but are you gonna be a good theologian or a bad theologian?
Every Man Is A Theologian
‘Cause if you think or believe something about God… Yep. Theology is a study of God, so you’re a participant in theology by default. And I thought, man, it was so good, especially if you are the man of the house, then you are the resident theologian in your house. And for a lot of us, we want so much more for our children, rightfully so. You’re like, “Man, I want my kid to be studying the Bible.” Okay, are you leading him in that? You can only lead someone as far as you’re going, so we need to be the one plowing away and bringing them along in our wake, and it’s crazy. If someone saw you on the side of the street, out of nowhere impromptu conversation, said, “What are you learning?”
You need to have an answer for that. Because if you don’t, then are you gonna say nothing? I’m learning nothing. Is that what you want for yourself and for those around you? And I’ll tell you this, what I’m teaching right now, this is what I’m learning right now. This is me, I don’t have this figured out like this is… I’m bringing you into… This is into the mind of Zack Mabry. These are the things that I struggle with every day. I feel like I’ve got a good direction a lot of times, but so many times I am falling short. And so I’m sharing this with you because this is what I’m being hit over the head with right now. Alright, we should desire to bring the people that God has placed in our lives into a greater knowledge of God and His Word, but that won’t happen unless we’re moving even further.
If you have a desire… I have a desire to be a wise old man, you guys wanna be wise old men? Yeah. Now, being an old man, that’s the easy part. Just keep breathing. Keep breathing, eventually, you’re gonna be an old man, but to be a wise old man. Man, you know in the ’80s, there was that book that came out… As New York Times best-seller, Everything I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, you guys remember that? Some of you don’t, you don’t remember the ’80s shame on you. But that’s terrible. Do you wanna get to a point where you just stop learning? And what’s crazy is that we’re naturally inclined to… If we’re learning something, do you know what we wanna do? Share it. Man, wouldn’t it be awesome if that was what our conversations were like, these are something I’m learning right now, this is why I’m sharing them with you?
I was talking with Ellie, we were just talking about wanting to grow and wanting to learn, you know the best way to do that, get someone else to go through something with you. Man, okay, on Friday at lunch, we’re gonna meet, we’re gonna talk about this book. What am I learning from it, and what do I have to share? Scripture says we need to be ready always to give an answer for the hope that we have within us. And for so many of us, we’re taken off guard ’cause we’re not ready. Why are we not ready? ‘Cause, we’re not learning anything. We’re not studying anything. So here we go, here are my how-tos. I’ve got seven points I wanna make in the next 24 minutes. Alright, got it. Easy. And all of my notes, if you want these slides, I’ll send them to you. My email address is really difficult, it’s Zach, Z-A-C-H@swoutfitters.com.
If you can remember my name and the place that you are right now, you can do it. Alright. So here are the points I wanna walk through and put entertainment in its proper place. Don’t stop learning, study God’s word in theology, read good books, work hard for the Lord, realize that time is short, and be an example. Man, if you’re gonna be falling down, that’s fine, just make sure you are stumbling forward. Let’s set a good trajectory, let’s have goals, let’s make plans, ’cause if not, you’re gonna stay right where you are. Alright. And what I said before is that our culture is dead. This culture is against you, this culture would be so fine if you came home from work, took your pants off, sit in your tighty-whities and just watch TV. That’s what this culture wants from you, and that’s easy to do. I’m gonna read one of the best books… I think this is one of the best books ever written by a non-believer, it’s called, Amusing Ourselves to Death by a guy named Neil Postman he wrote it in 1985. I know. It’s really current.
And what he’s doing he’s comparing two different novels, those two different dystopian novels that came out, the first one that was written was called Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, the other one’s 1984 by George Orwell. A lot of us probably had to read these in school, they don’t do it now because that’s too much reading, and kids don’t need to read anymore. But if you remember this, there were these two different pictures, like two different bad pictures of society, one of the 1984’s like the government’s gonna control everything, of course, it’s written in the rise of the communist like Stalin, Hitler. I understand I can see, that’s a danger.
Our Culture Is Dead
The other one was written before that, before the rise of the… Whatever axis powers and they’re portraying two different bad pictures of society. Look at the way that Neil Postman talks about it. This is a long slide… Or it’s two different slides, a long quote. But look at this, what Orwell feared was those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book because there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared that those would give up… That those… Sorry. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information, Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced… Look at this, reduced to passivity and egoism. Alright. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us, Huxley feared that the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.
I mean, think about the internet and social media right now, and tell me a better word picture, drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared that we’d become a captive culture, Huxley feared that we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy-porgy, and the centrifugal bumble puppy, you’d have to read the book to make sense of that. And as Huxley remarked in a Brave New World Revisited, which is a book that he wrote, the book that he wrote, brilliant, sold a lot of copies, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are on the alert of post-tyranny, quote, “Failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In 1984, Huxley added people are controlled by inflicting pain in a Brave New World, they’re controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us, and Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us. Man.
That was written in 1985. This is a big deal. And you know what’s happened? Man, Huxley nailed it. Because when you talk about information, we’ve got it. But we’re so obsessed with information that we’re learning nothing, we’re obsessing over the trivial, and all we have are just trivial facts to throw back and forth, and in reality, what’s happened? Our cultures died, and we just get sucked right into this drama. Right? So then look a little bit further on.
1983 again, and Ray Bradbury, he’s the one who wrote Fahrenheit 451. He said, “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture, just get people to stop reading them.” And then for good measure, we’ve got Caedmon’s Call in 1994. Thank you, I love Caedmon’s Call. This world has nothing for me, and this world has everything. Man, that’s good. That’s something I need to hear right now, every day. Timmy said, “For so many of us, you know what we need to do, we need to put down our phones.” And he’s right. Man, we have to be thinking through, “What kind of man do you want to be?” You are a theologian, you are a leader, people are looking to you to follow you, where are you leading them? And so what we need to do, we need to put entertainment in its proper place.
Entertainment is wonderful, it’s great. But that can’t be our focus. We can’t just be focused on entertainment. I like to watch college football, I like to watch baseball only in the World Series if the Braves are in it. And then I’m a big fan. I like to watch March Madness. I’m sure there’s another regular season. That’s fine, I just don’t care about it. I like to watch TV, the movies, I like to watch happy things, things that make me laugh, that’s what I like, but it needs to be put in its proper place.
Put Entertainment In Its Proper Place
That can’t satisfy you, that satisfies you for a second, and then that’s it. Look at what CS Lewis said, in The Weight of Glory. He said it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures fully about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us. Like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at sea, we are far too easily pleased. Man, when Timmy said, “You know more about your hobby, then you know God’s word,” that’s convicting. We’re talking about stuff that is gonna burn up, we’re talking about mud pies in the sand, what are you spending your time and your life on?
Everything Is Entertainment
Back to Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman said this, he said, “What Huxley teaches us is that in the age of advanced technology, spiritual devastation is more likely to come from an enemy with a smiling face, than one whose countenance exudes suspicion and hate. In the Huxleyan prophecy, Big Brother does not watch us by his choice, we watch him by ours. There is no need for wardens or gates or ministries of the truth,” and look at this, “this is our culture when a population becomes distracted by trivia when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainment when a serious public conversation becomes a form of baby talk when in short, people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk, a culture of death is a clear possibility.” And that’s what I want us to understand like we are living in a culture of death.
It’s dead, it has nothing for us, nothing that will satisfy us. If we’re spending all of our life and all our time on that, it’s gonna make us into more shallow people, and that’s not what God has called us to. Again, you are leading people somewhere, those whom God has put under your influence, you’re leading them. Where are you leading them? I’m gonna read another quote again, it’s just easier, this guy’s name… His name is Peter Kreeft he’s a theologian, he wrote a book called Christianity for Modern Pagans in 1993, and he’s reflecting on the work of a guy named, Blaise Pascal, who was a French theologian who wrote a book called The Pond Saves. Anyway, he’s talking about diversion. Now, Blaise Pascal was a little too crazy, he didn’t want to enjoy anything more than the Lord, and I think that’s awesome. But what he did do was when he would have visitors over, he had a special vest that he would wear made out of like horsehair and nails, so that it would press into his body so that he wouldn’t enjoy hanging out with people too much. Okay, maybe a little too extreme, but look at what…
The Danger of Diversion
So Peter Kreeft reflecting on Blaise Pascal, ’cause he would talk about diversion. And diversion is, that’s something that is taking us away from what we’re supposed to be focused on, that’s what a diversion is. Look what he says, “We ought to have much more time, more leisure than our ancestors did, because technology, which is the most obvious and radical difference between their lives of theirs and ours is essentially a series of time-saving devices. In ancient societies, if you were rich, you had slaves to do the menial work so that you could be free to enjoy your leisure time. Life was like a vacation for the rich because the poor slaves were their machines, but now that everyone has slave substitutes, and machines, why doesn’t everyone enjoy the leisurely vacationing lifestyle of the ancient rich? Why have we killed time instead of saving it?”
Look at this, this is huge we want to complexify our lives, we don’t have to, we want to. We want to be harried and hassled and busy, unconsciously, we want the very things we complain about. Look at this for if we had leisure, we would look at ourselves and listen to our hearts and see the gaping hole in our hearts and be terrified because that hole is so big that nothing but God can fill it. So we run around like conscientious little bugs, scared rabbits, dancing to tenets on our machines, our slaves, making them our masters. We want peace and silence and freedom and leisure, but deep down, we know that this world would be unendurable to us like a dark empty room without distractions where we would be forced to confront ourselves.
Man, okay. So let’s time out. Let’s think about this. We’re so easily distracted, we’re so easily consumed by things that have no eternal value, is that because you have a longing for something, and it’s just being misplaced, and you’re taking the easy way out, and if that was removed then what? Man, there’s a band called 21 Pilots, a really cool band, they did a song called Car Radio, and it’s so fascinating because it’s about this guy whose radio broke, and he didn’t know what to do with the silence. He to deal with himself and his thoughts. But you know what? If we’re gonna really grow, we need to have a time of silence, we need to have a time of meditation, and I don’t mean like some sort of Eastern meditation, I mean meditation on God’s word. We need to look at God’s creation and let God speak to us through His Word and the world that He’s made. And we need to… That’s what’s gonna help us to become godly men, to be like Jesus, we need time that we can stop and we can reflect and think, What am I doing wrong? Ask God to speak to your heart to convict you of sin that’s in your lives. Convict you of diversions. But what is it? If it’s diverting you from your main objective to be like Jesus, then it needs to be put in its proper place.
Don’t Stop Learning
Next, we need to… Don’t stop learning. 2nd Timothy says this, “Remind them of these things and charge them for God, not to quarrel about words, which does no good but only ruins the hearers, do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth, but avoid irreverent babble?” Which again, that is our culture, “for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness.” He says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved.” And then what is the… What’s his qualification? Is someone who rightly understands God’s Word.
Right, the King James version, which is what I grew up on, it’s a good translation, it’s not the only inspired version of the Bible, but in the King James, it says, study to show you… I know. I’m so sorry. We can talk about it later. [laughter]
You’re good to go.
Yeah, I know, I know. We don’t have time to talk about that. Yeah, I derailed myself, and I apologize. It says, “Study to show yourself approved.” And I think the study is… In context, that’s the right word, because it’s talking about rightly handling God’s Word, but he says, “Do your best,” and a literal translation would be with all of your stuff, with everything inside you, with everything, make sure that you can rightly handle God’s word. Man, so many times we use the term God’s Word. And what do we mean? We mean the Bible, but we’ve forgotten that these are the eternal Words of God given to us. Like Spencer said this morning, this is the closed revelation of God, we have it. There’s a pastor, Justin Peters, who says, “If you want a word from God, read the Bible, if you want an audible word from God, read the Bible out loud.” [laughter] That’s right. Yeah, and here’s the thing. Again, so many of us. We wanna take the easy way out. We wanna say, “I’m just gonna sit and wait for God to speak to me. I wish God would give me a word.” Well, he has. And you’re ignoring it. Do you want to hear God’s word? He gave it to you. What are you doing with it? Man, again, do you want your kids…
Study God’s Word
Do you want the young men and women in your church to love God’s Word, and study God’s word? Okay. Are you leading them? Are you showing them how that’s done? Have you presented the Bible in such a way that you’re valuing this above anything else? If not, then you’re the one cheapening it. Man, and you know, what you spend your time on is what you show, what you value.
Are you valuing God’s word? And it’s hypocritical of you to say, “Man, I wish they cared more about the Bible.” If you don’t care more about the Bible. Again, here we go. Yeah, study God’s word. Psalm 119. All of Psalm 119 is just the best. Psalm 119 is just David telling God how awesome the Bible is. It’s so good, says “My soul clean to the dust, give me life according to your word. When I told… When I was told in my way, you answered me. Teach me your statutes, make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works. My soul melts away for sorrow. Strengthen me according to your word. Put… Ready? Put false ways far from me.” Have you guys realized that the majority of… The majority of the reason why our culture is so jacked up right now, even in Christian culture, is because we’ve accepted false truths.
Right, that’s it. We’re believing… We’re believing lies. That’s why it’s so messed up, even in the church, it says, “Put false ways far for me and graciously teach me your law. I’ve chosen the way of faithfulness, I set your rules before me, and I cling to your testimonies. Oh Lord, let me not be put to shame. I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart.” We must know the truth, but you cannot teach God’s word unless you’re studying God’s Word, you can’t disciple anyone without studying God’s word. If you want… Would you see your life as prescriptive for others? Do you want other people to have the same zeal for God’s word that you do? If not, then what… Something in you needs to change. And if you’re waiting to be like, oh, I’m just waiting for a better time, it’s not going to come. I’m reading through a book with our institute students called… It’s CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory, you’ll see a couple of quotes from that, I just can’t help myself. See, if you’re learning something you wanna teach it.
And he gave this… He gave a sermon at Oxford during World War II, and he was like… And he was asking the question, is it worthwhile for us to be studying here while there’s a war going on, and he said, “There are always wars going on, you wanna wait till where there’s peace and quiet. It’s not happening.” Do you wanna wait for a more opportune time to study, to learn to grow? It’s not happening. You gotta leave… There’s a quote later, I can’t find it. You have to leave the future to the Lord, right? Because do you know the only time you can actually do anything? Right now. If you just say, “This is gonna happen in the future, I’m gonna get to that,” you won’t do it, and it’s right now. And this is what we need to be teaching those around us, that right now is what we need to do. Look at this quote. Again, you just read smarter people. JC Ryle in the ’60s was a pastor in England, he said, “In the first place if we would be kept from falling into false doctrine, let us arm our minds with a thorough knowledge of God’s word, let us read our Bibles from beginning to end with daily diligence and constant prayer for the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and so strive to become thoroughly familiar with their contents.” Look at this, “Ignorance of the Bible is the root of all error and a superficial acquaintance with it accounts for many of the sad perversion and deflections of the present day. Whoa.
And he’s writing in the ’60s, this is 60 years ago. Ain’t that crazy? If you want, when we talk about false doctrine, I’m talking about a false understanding of marriage, gender, holiness, sex, love, of work, all of this is covered in Scripture. This is all a subset of doctrine, and he said it’s ignorance, that’s a danger. And what else, superficial acquaintance. Really crazy, this past year at camp, we put together an advent study, which you can get online, it’s really… I think it’s great, it’s through the book, it’s the whole biblical theology of Advent with a reading every day in December, culminating in the 25th, which is Jesus’s birthday.
And I thought it was a good exercise. It’s really cool, just kinda showing all throughout the Bible where we have promises of Jesus, throughout the whole Bible, and I had some conversations with some people who were saying, man, that was really deep. It was difficult trying to work through some of that. And I thought, man, that’s crazy, because we really put it together for people to take their families through, and I realized that for so many of us, we’ve been in church for a long time, but haven’t been in God’s word at all. We’ve got a long relationship, but it’s really shallow. Look at what else he says, and this is again in the ’60s, “in a hurrying age of travel and communication, I am firmly persuaded that many Christians do not give time enough to a private reading of scriptures. I believe seriously that English people… ” He’s, again, he’s in England, so he’s not slamming them, “English people knew their Bibles better 200 years ago than they do now. The consequences that they are,” ready, “tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching, and fallen easy prey to the first clever teacher of error who tries to influence their minds. I intrigue my readers to remember this council and take heed of their ways.”
Man, if he’s right. You read stuff, if you read stuff from the late 1700s, early 1800s in America, Puritan writings from England and from England and America, and realize you read through them, and it’s like, man, this is heavy, this is deep, and those are written for common people because 200 years ago, people knew their Bible way better than they do now. And it’s shameful because if you have a smart telephone, you can carry the Bible with you everywhere you go. Not only that, but if you want to, you can put in headphones and have someone reading the Bible to you everywhere you go. So we have more access to God’s word than ever before. We have a billion different translations, probably… There are probably 20 good translations of the Bible that you can get someone to read to you just by putting headphones in your ears, and we know the Bible way less than we ever have. That’s shameful.
It’s shameful. Next, study theology. Here we go. Scripture says… This is Jesus, actually. He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with our soul, and with all your mind.” Man, what’s crazy is when you study theology, man, God becomes so much bigger, the Gospel becomes so much more beautiful. Is theology, is necessary? Is this… It’s not necessary. It shouldn’t replace your study of scripture, but it enhances it. It gives you helpful categories so that you can understand the goodness of God, His greatness, and His glory. It gives you words that you can use to praise the Lord that you’d have never known before. It teaches you the complexity of scripture. It blows your mind. And what you realize is that the more you study theology, the less you actually know about God and the more there is to know. ‘Cause some people are like, man, I can’t believe that, for eternity, we’re supposed to be with God, getting to know him better. Yeah.
Eternity, because we’re talking about these finite minds trying to understand an infinite God, and the more that you study, the more you love the Lord. It’s so good. It’s good for our hearts.
Read Good Books
Next, we need to read good books. This also, sociologists are telling us that people are reading way less and less in this culture, never before, because we’ve been trained how to think poorly. In fact, so much of our communication, both with the social media world and the internet, that we are having lightning-fast communication, but it’s coming at us in such small bursts that we’re not able to think critically anymore.
We’re training our brains to process little bits of decontextualize information, and we’re not able to love the Lord well with our minds because we can’t think as well. And if you read… When you read, it makes your brain… It actually re-programs your brain to think better, to have an extended attention span, to be able to think critically and analytically, and that’s what Neil Postman talked about in Amusing Ourselves to Death, is talking about a typographic culture actually helps us articulate well and think more critically, and we’ve lost that. It really helps us focus and teaches us our attention span. And if you’re gonna read, read good books. It’s really funny, again, in the article that we were reading this week, with CS Lewis, he was talking about how you need to read good books, ’cause if you’re not gonna read good books, you’re gonna read bad books. Little did he know. Nope, there would come a day when people aren’t gonna read at all, and you know what’s crazy, there are lists of the great books out there, and it’s daunting. If you’ve never been a reader before, it seems overwhelming. You’re just like, well, where should I start?
Well, there’s just so much information out there. But you know what you should do, you need to start with a book. And do you know that every book has to be read one page at a time? This sounds… That’s real life. I’m being honest because if you look at a book, and you’re like, oh man, that looks intimidating. And what do you do, it looks intimidating? No. I’m just gonna turn on Sports Center, and then I’m gonna watch it again and again, somehow it just keeps coming on, the top 10 is always the same. But if you’re intimidated, that’s fine. Pick it up, and start reading. If you read a page a day, you’re gonna keep reading and you’ll finish books. It’s that easy. Again, we don’t have any time. And you’re not gonna get any more of it. We just have to use it. We just have to use it better.
There are some things that you just need to cut out, especially if there’s no value in it, ’cause most of the stuff that we’re wasting our time with not only doesn’t have eternal value, it has very little temporal value. Think about it right now, like March Madness is going on. Nobody knows who lost… Who had the big upset last year or the year before, you don’t know? You’re obsessed with that right now? Sure. This isn’t gonna matter next year, it’s just not. ‘Cause next year, you’re gonna put $5 into another pool that you’re gonna lose. Someone else is gonna get it. The UK lost, people.
Who saw that coming? Nobody, the Peacock… Anyway, it doesn’t matter, but here… Don’t rush it, be realistic plan, develop good habits and keep plotting. That’s it. You don’t… Again, in every book, you have to read it one page at a time regardless. I’m not a good reader, I’m just not. I’m really slow, I’m really easily distracted. I don’t know how many times I have read the same page over and over and over. Read it until you understand it. ‘Cause the goal is understanding, the goal is not I wanna finish this book. You can… Your eyes can look at every word, that’s fine, and this is the same way with God’s work. If your eyes look at every word, that doesn’t make a difference, you need to understand. Read for understanding. Take your time.
Word Hard Unto The Lord
Next, work hard unto the Lord. 1st Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” CS Lewis, again, the same book, I know, “A more Christian attitude, which can be attained at any age, is that of leaving futurity in God’s hand.”
We may as well, for God will certainly retain it, whether we leave it to them or not, never in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future, happy work is done best by the man who takes his long-term plan somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment, as unto the Lord. Now, how awesome is that? Work hard as into Lord right now. Hold on. Oh, wait sorry. Got distracted by my notes. It’s okay, you’re fine. Yeah.
Safety third, I put this out there because right now, we live in a culture that’s so obsessed with safety that nothing is getting done. Look at… This is from The Coddling of the American mind. This is a book written in 2018, again, by two people who are not believers, they’re just college professors. They said, “A culture that allows for the concept of safety to creep so far that it equates emotional discomfort with physical danger is a culture that encourages people to systematically protect one another, from the very experiences embedded in daily life that they need in order to become strong and healthy.” You need to work hard to become a hard worker. And enjoy the work that God has given to you. Look at this. Again, I’m talking, to Ben Sasse, he’s a senator, he wrote a book called The Vanishing American Adult. He says, “I believe our entire nation is in the midst of a collective coming of age crisis without parallel in our history.
We are living in an America of perpetual adolescence. Our kids simply don’t know what an adult is any more or how to become one. Many don’t even see a reason to try, perhaps more problematic the older generations have forgotten that we need to need to plan to teach them, it’s our fault more than theirs.” I think it’s easy for us to look at this other… This younger generation say they need to get off their tails. Teach them. It is not your college pastor’s job to disciple every college student in your church, it’s not the youth pastor’s job to disciple every youth in your church, it is our job.
It is your job. That’s what God has called you to. If there aren’t any young men in your life that you’re showing how to be godly men, find them, take responsibility for your church and for our culture, and before you complain, offer to help. This is… And it’s so funny, this is how I’m trying to raise my own children, complaining grates on me. I hate it. Complaining comes from a spoiled, proud heart, and it’s so easy for us because we think this generation is not like previous generations. That’s right, that’s exactly right. That’s why they’re separated by generations. Good observation. And you know what, we’re in danger. And we need godly men to train godly men. That’s our job.
So before you complain, offer to help, easy, it’s so easy, and you can make time for that. It’s more important than whatever else you’re doing. We’re talking about raising up eternal souls to glorify God.
Realize That Time Is Short
Again, realize time is short, this to me is huge right now. In Ecclesiastics 5, he says this, behold I’ve… Here’s what I’ve seen to be good and fitting, to eat, drink, and enjoy and to find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power, to enjoy them, to accept his lot, and rejoice in his toil, this is a gift of God, for he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps them occupied with the joy of His heart.” That’s good. Life is really, really short. Do you know how many days you have allotted to yourself? A few days. What are you doing with them? What’s more important? What are you prioritizing?
I think about this, man, we need to live with urgency. For me, this is really convicting because I’ve got three young men in my home that I want to be Godly men, and I’m realizing right now, my oldest, I am two-thirds of the way through his time at our house. My second, I’ve got eight years left with him, my third, I’ve got 10 years left with him. Give me a second. I don’t wanna teach him to be godly, man. And how… You’ve seen them around. They’re insane. If you’ve seen kids trying to jump from one tree to another right out here, yeah, yeah, you’ve seen them, those are mine.
Again, I’m not saying I’m doing a good job, people. It’s overwhelming. Yeah, he only fell once, but one of them… I told him, you gotta grab close to the trunk or else it will break. That’s really impressive. But yeah, I want these guys to love Jesus, and I want them to be able to look back and say, yeah, my dad taught me how to be a godly, man. I don’t wanna prioritize that in my life and in their lives. And for all of us, you might not have kids. You might not be married. There are young men that you need to disciple. You might be older and your kids are out of the house, but there are other kids that don’t have daddies. Man, we need to disciple these kids. One thing that’s really helpful on a practical level, is at the end of the day, just stop and think, man, how did I do today?
Where did I spend my time? I think that, yeah, Timmy mentioned it last night. If you have a smartphone, it has a screen time thing on it, it tells you how much time you’ve been looking at that thing, and it tells you what you’re using it for. Man, and just think through, is this really… You wanna show that to your kids and be like, hey guys, follow me. That’s what… We have Paul, right after that, when he is… About how we’re doing everything to Lord, what he says is “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” Are you living a life worth emulating? And if not, make the change. You don’t have time. Well, that’s it.
Be An Example
We’re out of time. So be an example. Are you giving an example that you want others to emulate? Would you consider your life… And again, I’m not… In no way am I trying to come down on you. I’m saying, this is what I’m trying to work through every day. Is my life prescriptive to those who are watching me? ‘Cause people are watching you. You are leading in some direction. That’s what you’re doing. You’re teaching people how to view God and His Word and His world.
That’s what you’re doing. You’re teaching kids or adults, I don’t know, whoever is around you, you’re teaching them what to value. So for some of us, we need to stop. We need to realize, man, there are things we need to cut out… I need to cut that out of my life. I either need to knock it down a couple of notches, or I need to get it out completely. Do the things that, at the end of the day, you’re glad you did. Again, we don’t have to worry about the way in the future, worry about tonight when you go to bed, will you be satisfied with the way that you have led others when you lay your head down on your pillow tonight? Make it a moment to moment, I don’t care. By supper time, what do I want to have accomplished? What I was want to have done, what do I want my time to have been spent on?
Man, for so many of us, you need to put down your phone, you need to put down the remote. You need to call somebody up and look them in the eye. You need to pick up a book, you need to read God’s Word, and you’re constantly becoming who you are going to be. So think about who you wanna be and plan out, what do I need to get there? And the thing is, man, again, we’ve had so much technology right now, if any of you have a commute, then redeem it, make the most of your commute. You can listen to somebody read God’s Word, you can listen to people teach God’s Word, you can listen, you can go to Audible and listen to whatever book you’ve wanted to read, you can have people read to you. It’s like storytime. It’s awesome. You’re going to be in a car for 15, 20 minutes, 30 minutes by yourself. Redeem it, use it to become a more godly man. So here’s the deal. You are a leader. You are a theologian. We need to think of our lives as prescriptive, we need to realize that our time is short, and we need to start today, some things you need to cut out some things you need to add to it.
I’ve got a list here of just practical resources, if you wanna get started in the study, serious study, you wanna get started serious study of the Bible, this is a great book. It’s called 40 questions on Interpreting the Bible, by a guy named Rob plumber. He’s just a solid, godly dude, he’s got 40 questions on interpreting the Bible, very easy, manageable.
Wayne Grudem wrote a book called Christian Beliefs. He actually wrote three different books. He wrote a big Systematic Theology, he wrote a smaller Christian Doctrine, and he wrote even smaller Christian Beliefs. It’s a great way to get started studying theology because he’s got other books that he will reference after that, if you’re like, man, I really like this, I’d like to learn more.
Oh, he’s got it in there. The Case for Christ, if you wanna study… ‘Cause remember, we are also always being… You’re an apologist, you’re having… If you believe in Jesus, you need to help others understand how to believe in Him, and you need to help take down barriers of the faith. The Case for Christ is awesome. It’s got easy to follow chapters again with bibliographies. There’s a book called Father Hunger by the name of Doug Wilson. It’s amazing. It’s so good talking about how we need godly dads. And then there are two websites on there where you can take free seminary classes, and it’s just really good. We’ll leave this up. I’m gonna pray for you, and then we’ll be done. The first supper starts in 45 minutes.
God, we love you so much, and I pray that you will weigh a heavyweight on us, and help us to feel this burden that you have called us to lead those with whom you have placed us in a sphere of influence. I pray that we will snap out of it, I pray that we will wake up, and we will use our lives productively, that we will study your word, we will study theology, we will read good books, and we will invest in this next generation that we will make much of our time, and that we will fight against this culture, and that you will lead us, and you will guide us, and we will submit to you in that. We love you and praise your name of Jesus. Amen. Thanks, y’all.
BE STRONG 2023
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