As promised we’re continuing the reflection of the themes that were explored when Ian and Terry attended the Xcel Mens conference in Bradford.
In 1 Chronicles we explored the idea of success and whether or not we all actually knew what it was we were fighting for. We were offered the story of a group of America’s most successful men from 1923 who were alleged to have met at the Edgeware Beach hotel in Chicago. Howard Hopson, Ivar Kreuger, and Richard Whitney were just some of the 8 or so attending. Whilst this meeting of the rich and famous seems to be in historical doubt, the names of the business leaders definitely show what happened as the American business and finance sectors went into decline. Within a few short years some of these men were poverty stricken, some had committed suicide, some were in prison for criminal acts committed trying to hold on to their “success”. They did not experience the peace that Jesus brings. They were measuring success in terms of financial riches. We’re all rich in Jesus. We need to unleash the lion of our faith and belief. We need to fight the uncommon fight that often flies in the face of how others measure success. God sends us brothers that become warriors along side you. They may not look like it at the time but they will be the ones who will stand shoulder to shoulder through the tough times. Understand what it is you are prepared to fight for. Make a list, family, friends, beliefs, principles, be clear in your own mind. Success depends on faithfulness to God but you also need to be wary. Success can breed complacency and lead you to try to rely on your owns strengths and talents. We see Saul deep in fear contrasted against David’s courage. So many strive for wrong success. Success is being a man after God’s own heart. In 1 Chronicles we see David on the threshold of a huge decision. This is the point at which Saul’s influence is over. Saul wanted all the trappings of richness. David on the other hand remembers his humble beginnings. Remember the simple things in life, serving at tables, washing dishes. Fill your life with great purposes and great things. Get things under control get rid of addictions. Remember that whatever Jesus is not Lord over is what the devil will try to break you with. Remember Jesus was raised as the son of a working man as well as being the son of God.
In Ephesians 6 we see Paul summing up the last of his four letters from prison. He probably wrote this around AD 60-62 and he’s painting a picture of the glorious power of Jesus. We get to God because of what Jesus did for us. Many people think Chrisitians are somehow doing God a favour by following him. Nothing could be further from the truth. We fall into the wrong hands if we get all righteous and self satisfied. Learn from each other and keep each other on the right path. The older folks in the church can warn the younger folks what the evil one will try. The enemy schemes to get you and C.S Lewis in his Screwtape Letters illustrates this well. Different things work on different people. Struggles with finances, addictions, sexual atttractions, these are old battles that will be faced by your children and their children. Be able to say “Get behind me Satan, I knew you were coming. My friends in my church community warned me.” Remember you will need to take your stand over and over. Visualise the scene from Braveheart. .. You will have to hold, hold, hold. Stand firm, stand honest and stand with integrity. Paul in describing the armour of God is probably writing, looking at the soldier he has been shackled to. He wasn’t discouraged at being in that situation. Far from it. He wrote and encouraged others. He kept serving. The shield of faith he describes is critical piece for all of us. A recent example of why this was needed was demonstrated at a civic reception where people were able to have 3 minutes telling their local official what they thought of their work. Over and over and over again people heaped abuse and complaint on the officials, not once pasing to reflect on the good stuff. This is what the enemy does, throwing venom and fire your way. You have the shield prepared and dampened to protect you from fire. You are a child of God, brand new in Jesus drawing on the strength of the word of God.
In 1 Timothy we looked at the importance of reading things in context, getting things right to teach and preach. Timothy did not see himself as a warrior but he fought with faith in his core. So many men have unhealthy interests in conflict and enjoy arguing. Don’t go picking fights. Save your energy for the fights that pick you. There will be plenty of them. Think about the uncommon things you are fighting for. Remember we just getting started, we’re beat up but we know how to build up. Take hold of eternal life. Unleash the lion for family for future generations. The enemy makes mileage from poor decisions, bad relationships and bad temper. We need to walk by what we know in our spirit. Love your wife and family like Christ loved the Church.