1. Purpose. The Health Fair is part of our Mosaic ministry that is reaching out to Cincinnati with Cross-Cultural Love. This fair is designed to care for the whole person, body and soul. On Saturday, we will serve our neighbors by providing basic health care, soul care, a meal, music, fun activities for kids, and more. We have literally truckloads of food to give away!
2. Volunteers. Some of you have signed up to be a volunteer and have been assigned to stations at the fair. If you would like to volunteer and haven’t signed up yet, we will be able to assign you a place to help on that day.
All volunteers need to arrive by 10:30am if possible, even if you can’t stay the whole time. Please park on the street or at Fairview Park so we can reserve our lots for people attending the fair.
If you would like more information about volunteering, please contact Kristen Holvey for details.
3. Mosaic T-Shirts. We have Mosaic t-shirts available for health fair volunteers. They will be $8 between now and the fair, and $10 after that. It’s a great way for guests to identify who the Ctk people are (and they look awesome!). If you would like one before Saturday, please message Michael Clary and I’ll take care of it for you.
4. Security. Since 333 Warner will have lots of guests here on Saturday, please be mindful about leaving phones, purses and other valuables laying around.
5. Canvassing. Some folks are meeting at 333 Warner on Thursday evening at 7pm to pass out flyers for the health fair. If you are available, please come and help!
5. Prayer. I have prayed about and set a goal this year for Ctk to develop relationships with 500 new people in Uptown, and this health fair is a big push towards that goal. Please join me in praying that God will lead us to meet lots of new neighbors on Saturday, and that these folks will hear the gospel and place their faith in Jesus.
I am very excited as we are nearing this outreach. God has provided so many things for us so far and I’m trusting him for great things!
How can you plant a thriving church in a culture of a million different voices and a thousand pressing decisions? Learn how Sojourn Network churches across the U.S. do it with our simple Faithmapping model for planting gospel-centered churches, filled with people who reflect each city’s culture and work for its good. The Faithmapping Micro-Conference is a one day event that begins at 9am and will conclude at 3pm.
The Faithmapping micro-conference is hosted by Christ the King Church on March 13th, 2013. Registration is $25. More details and registration information can be found at the link below.
Christ the King Church is pleased to announce our involvement in a Christmas Store. City Gospel Mission is partnering with us to make this happen. Here’s how the Christmas Store works. Several area church partners distribute registration forms to parents they know need help. Parents are assigned a set shopping time. They pay a low, per child fee to shop, then can select one new toy item ($15 to $40 value) and one new clothing item ($20 to $50 value) for each child, and wrap their gifts there. Each year, about 350 parents from around the city shop for over 1000 children at the store.
The Christmas Store will be held December 12-15, 2012 at Philippus United Church of Christ, 106 W. McMicken, Over-The-Rhine. Here’s where you come in.
We need donations of new toys ($15-$40 value), new upper-body clothing ($20-$50 value), and cash (to purchase gifts and supplies that are not donated). Donations should be dropped off at Ctk Church, 333 Warner Street, 45219, by Dec. 9th, 2012.
Please select items from the list below. All items must be brand new. The children’s parents will be shopping for the items, so wrapping your donation is not necessary. Make sure to label your donations with the age & gender of child for whom those items would be appropriate.
You can obtain a printable shopping list here.
Gift Ideas for 9 – 18 YEAR OLDS ($15-$40 value)
Gift Ideas for 6 – 8 YEAR OLDS ($15-$40 value)
Gift Ideas for INFANT – 5 YEAR OLDS ($12-$40 value)
Clothing Considerations for ALL AGE GROUPS ($20-$50 value)
CLOTHING SIZE BY AGE GROUP — We need more of the LARGER sizes!
|Infants to 24 mos||2 – 5 year olds||6-8 year olds||9-12 year olds||13 – 18 year olds|
|4T-5T, 4-5, 6-6X,
|12-14, 14-16, 16-18,
Sm, Md, Lg
|Teen Sm, Md, Lg, XL
XXL, 3X, 4X
Please deliver items by December 9th, 2012 to:Christ the King Church 333 Warner Street Cincinnati, OH 45219
333 Warner St. is the new home of CTK Uptown. God has graciously given us this wonderful facility, strategically placed in the Clifton Heights/University Heights/ Fairview neighborhood of Uptown.
We love being a part of the Uptown neighborhoods of Cincinnati! Our desire is to be good neighbors in our new neighborhood, and be welcoming to newcomers at CTK.
We have two separate gathering times on Sunday mornings, 9:00am and 11:00am. Both times will offer the same worship format and have programming for ctk|kids.
Note: Service times are scheduled to be 85 minutes. In case of an emergency you need to leave the sanctuary, please do not use the door by the stage (leading to the ctk|kids Check-In Area). You may exit in the back of the sanctuary.
The above map shows all of the prime parking locations closest to the building reserved for CTK. Most of this parking will be reserved for our guests and parents of ctk|kids. Please respect reserved parking spaces for handicapped, guests, and ctk|kids, as well as traffic pattern arrows (as seen on map). Only a limited number of spaces will remain for everyone else. If you are able, please make plans to first try and find parking elsewhere (see Off-site parking map, page 5).
(A) Upper Lot. This lot will have prime parking spaces reserved for guests. There will be a limited number of spaces in the rear of the lot and behind the building open to all.
(B) Drop-off zone. This area will be used as the loading area for the Shuttle. Anyone else may use it to drop off as well.
(C) Lower Lot. This lot will be reserved for parents of ctk|kids.
(D) Coon Street. This side street has about a dozen street parking spots reserved for CTK. Park on the fence side of the street in order to give our neighbors space to enter and exit driveways.
On days other than Sunday you are welcome to use the lot freely. However, it is important to know that early Sunday mornings (around 3:00am), a towing company will patrol the lot and tow any car parked in it, and they will tow you. We have this service to ensure that the lot is cleared for our use on Sunday mornings.
The above map shows the best options for off-site parking. These areas should be utilized by anyone capable of doing so. Please respect our neighbors by parking with courtesy (not taking up two spots, blocking driveways, etc.). This entire map represents parking options that are within a five-minute walk of 333 Warner St.
(A) Street Parking. Street parking in the neighborhood is variable but typically plentiful. Keep in mind Flora Avenue past 333 Warner St. is a dead end. Be mindful of all parking signs, fire hydrants, etc., in order to avoid parking tickets.
(B) Fairview Park. The park is a short walking distance from the building and provides street parking along Fairview Park Rd. Keep in mind, Fairview Park Rd. is a one-way street and is only accessible from W. McMillan St. at the far end of the park.
(C) Old Fairview German Language School. The Lower Lot of the building behind the former Fairview German Language School may be used by anyone serving on a Sunday Team, and is less than a five minute walk to 333 Warner St.
Hey Ctk friends!
I took some time to discuss this in my sermon last Sunday, but we need everyone to be aware of a great opportunity we have as a church.
As you are probably aware by now, Ctk church has been given a new church building in our neighborhood recently, and we are in the process of cleaning and repairing it now. We started raising funds for the new building project in Uptown a couple of months ago, and we are pleased with the way many folks at Ctk have responded. Yet we are still short by about $65,000.
I recently spoke to one of my ministry partners and he has generously offered to help us fund the building project through a matching grant! This is a huge blessing and an answer to prayer. Here’s how this works.
First of all, he will match every gift given to the building fund dollar for dollar between now and the end of August. He is essentially doubling every building fund gift!
Secondly, he will also kick in an extra $300 bonus for every new donor who gives a minimum $200 gift to the building project. The goal here is to get as many people as possible involved in giving to the project.
So here’s the bottom line: we are trying to get as many individual people as possible to give at least a $200 gift. The matching grant will kick in and multiply these gifts to more than $700 each.
I’m just blown away by how God has continually provided for our needs as a church time and time again. We’ve asked God for a building and the means to renovate it and he’s provided for us in amazing ways.
There are three easy ways to respond.
First, we have online giving available through Google Wallet. Simply click this link and you will be taken to our giving page through Google. Make sure to select “Fairview Building Fund” as the fund you are giving to.
Secondly, you have the option to mail in a check. If you choose to mail in a check, please indicate on the check “Fairview Building Fund” in the memo line so it goes to the right place.
The address is: Christ the King Church, PO Box 198029, Cincinnati, OH, 45219.
Thirdly, you can use an envelope to give at our worship gatherings. On the envelope, make sure to mark “Fairview Building Fund” on the envelope.
Its always cool to see the many ways God provides. Please join me in thanking God for his continual provision!
Paul argues in Galatians 4 that Christians are the true Sons of Abraham because we share the faith of Abraham. God made promise to Abraham to bless the entire world through his offspring. Abraham didn’t know the whole story; he trusted God for the revelation God had given him at that time.
But now, in Christ, we are able to see all the full grandeur of God’s redemptive promise that he initiated through Abraham. We share the faith of Abraham, but we cling to better promises (Hebrews 8:6), built on a better sacrifice (Hebrews 9:23), and provides for us a better possession (Hebrews 10:34) as we await a better life (Hebrews 11:35) and a better destiny (Hebrews 11:16).
This following list is the content of that better promise provided for us by Jesus Christ. God’s promise to Abraham was a shadow of the things to come; but here are 23 life-changing, rock solid promises of the New Testament that we have to hope in.
In last Sunday’s sermon, we talked about thirteen different ways to identify Fear of Man in your life. I drew heavily upon this list and also added some of my own.
#1. You frequently think about what other people are thinking about you.
#2. You long to be noticed more than you long to be godly.
#3. You get angry if you are ever publicly contradicted.
#4. You flatter other people with words in order to be liked by them.
#5. You rarely confront sin in others directly.
#6. You think about what’s politically correct more than what’s biblically correct.
#7. You love to cite your own accomplishments.
#8. You have a hard time saying what you really think, which prevents you from getting close to people.
#9. You prematurely terminate conflicts by yielding, withdrawing, or changing the subject.
#10. You frequently put yourself down in order to get other people to give you encouragement.
#11. You have a hard time saying “no” even when you should.
#12. You fear that conflict in a relationship signals that the relationship is ending.
#13. You use texting or email as a preferred means of confrontation.
These are all indicators that some degree of Fear of Man is going on in your life.
About three years ago, when we were first trying to find a place for our church to meet, we started praying for God to provide a permanent facility for us. In the inner city, church plants often have a hard time gaining traction until they have their own building. Eighteen months ago, we contacted Fairview Baptist Church, a church in our neighborhood, about possibly using their building for office space. They own a basic, no frills church building with close to 11,000 square feet total.
Since they were a declining congregation with around 20 people or so in weekly attendance, they had little use for all the extra classroom space. We claimed a few rooms in their basement, converted them to offices, and started working from there.
Last April, Ctk Executive Pastor Doug Shell and I had lunch with the Senior pastor of Fairview Baptist Church, Glenn Davidson. After a few minutes of chit-chat and catching up, he said something that blew us away: “What would you guys think about Fairview Baptist Church giving you our building?”
We couldn’t believe our ears! He had just offered us a free building, zoned for religious assembly, in our target neighborhood, in inner city Cincinnati. This is every church planter’s dream come true. We took the next year to work out the details and present ideas to our respective congregations. Finally, last month, the members of Fairview Baptist Church voted unanimously to give us their building. On Monday, June 4th, 2012, all the legal paperwork was signed and Christ the King Church officially became building owners.
Fairview Baptist Church is located at 335 Warner Street in Cincinnati’s Uptown neighborhood. The main sanctuary will accommodate around 250 people. There is parking at the building and in an adjacent alley for around 35-40 cars; the rest will be street parking. We are located a few blocks from the University of Cincinnati, and within a mile or two of several of Cincinnati’s most prominent hospitals, the Cincinnati Zoo, and other attractions. To the south of us, we are within a couple of miles of the Central Business District, Over-the-Rhine, and the West End.
We believe we will be centrally and strategically located to have a great impact on the surrounding area. The Uptown neighborhoods alone are home to 32,000 people and the city’s largest employer, the University of Cincinnati. Uptown is the educational and medical heart of the city. Our neighborhood is densely populated with racially, economically, and culturally diverse people.
Now, we have a ton of work to do! Since the building has not been properly maintained for many years, several upgrades need to be performed to get it ready for us to use. Our short term plans are to replace the roof, install air conditioning, upgrade the electrical system, and install a women’s restroom on the main floor.
Long term, we are hoping to be able to fully renovate the entire building, including rooms for children’s ministry, the sanctuary, and our offices. We expect that this building will be able to accommodate 1000 people for weekend worship over multiple services.We’ve prayed for this, God has provided this, and now we expect to see great things happen as we move forward into the future.
We recently spent a few weeks revisiting our vision as a church during the City on a Hill sermon series. Our current plan is to complete renovations in this building and begin conducting our Sunday worship services here beginning in late summer.
It is amazing to think back on the fact that only a little more than two years ago, we were holding our first worship service with a few dozen people in a small room at the Corryville Rec Center. Now our congregation has grown and we have been given a free building and we are preparing to be on mission serving this city for generations.
May God make it so.
We will be posting updates here as the project gets underway. Please visit our Facebook Page for photos of the Fairview Building and more.
This is the final aspect of masculinity covered in our Men’s Leadership Training. Men are Kings, Cultivators, Protectors, and finally, Coaches (Shepherds).
As men, God has made us to coach each other in being good Kings, Cultivators and Protectors. Being a coach doesn’t mean having superior skill sets and abilities. In fact, a lot of professional sports coaches can’t do what they expect their athletes to do. But the reason they get paid to be coaches is because they can improve the team’s performance (or should). They possess the knowledge and influence necessary to secure the team’s success, and this is what makes them good coaches.
Good coaching requires knowledge and influence. You must have knowledge: something helpful and useful to bring to the table. And you must have influence: there has to be trust.
Here’s where we can go wrong. If we have some specific, helpful knowledge but aren’t personally invested in others, men won’t follow us. They may benefit from our knowledge, but our influence will be minimal. Nobody wants to follow a know-it-all. Sure, a know-it-all may have good insight and information, but if he’s not willing to roll up his sleeves and get involved in the game, then he’s not a leader. His knowledge doesn’t lead to influence—that’s poor coaching.
On the other hand, we may have a lot of influence but lack wisdom and knowledge. Celebrities can be like this: because they are famous people look to them as examples, but many times their poor choices disqualify them from being true leaders. A fool is a person who loves influence but hates knowledge. He leads by charisma but lacks conviction and character.
As coaches, men are responsible for training and influencing other men. One man’s input is necessary for another guy’s maturity and progress. You don’t have to be an expert to be a good coach—you just need to see the potential for improvement and be willing to step in and make the necessary investment.
(Note: This is Part 7 of our series on biblical masculinity, adapted from Men’s Leadership Training)
Men are made to be protectors—to guard and keep what has been entrusted to them. But our instinct to protect can be used in extreme ways that are not good.
Some men abuse their role as protector. Rather than protect for the greater good, a man may see his protecting instinct as an end in and of itself. He becomes a warrior without a war, ready to fight over anything and everything. For no good reason, he makes enemies out of people, and becomes the man whom others must be protected from, ironically.
This abuse isn’t always obvious—it’s not like this guy goes around punching people in the face. More often, this abuse surfaces in an argumentative, overly-competitive spirit, i.e., the guy who is always right, or the guy who thinks everything is a test of his competency. He lives to protect, but to protect himself.
Other men abandon their role as protector. Rather than stand up for others, a man may back down from real threats, and become the person who needs to be protected (again, ironically). This guy outsources protection, even pretending to be a victim at times so that others will stand up for him.
You may or may not find this guy crying in a corner. More than likely, men who abandon their responsibility to protect will be whiny complainers. They will blame the conflict in their lives on other people, and will tend to feel like they have been denied what they deserve. They will be bitter and resentful toward those they perceive to be better than them. Since they don’t want to accept responsibility, they will live as if they have been robbed the chance to be who they know they should be.
In both cases, these men are misunderstanding and misusing their God-given capacity to defend the people and things around them. Good protectors will not use their fear to hurt others or manipulate others, but will push through their fear because they want to help others.
(Note: This is Part 6 of our series on biblical masculinity, adapted from Men’s Leadership Training)
Ambrose Redmoon said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” This is the essence of what it means to be a protector–the determination to defend. Men are hard-wired to defend what they are responsible for, even in the face of great peril, even at the risk of their own lives.
The ability to be a protector stems from a man’s natural capacity for emotional detachment. In order to make hard decisions for the good of others and self, men must be able to consider things objectively to a degree, without the interference of their emotions, which are good, but can also be misleading. Emotional detachment enables men to face hard and dangerous challenges because it allows them to overcome their personal fears.
Men are intrigued by danger, in large part because of their hard-wiring to take on challenges that test them, and to take down adversaries. Little boys turn their bananas into guns, not because they have gone the way of the violent offender, but because they instinctively understand what it means to be a courageous defender (even if they are just defending their seat at the table). The Native American Indians fought to the death–they were bound by honor to defend their people and land, even as both were disappearing. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood up for minorities in the face of a malicious, oppressive culture. Throughout time, men have had to rise to the occasion when the lives of those they loved were in the balance. They have had to hold back personal insecurities and doubts and move forward with determination and honor.
Whether it’s fighting an enemy in war or standing up for a mistreated lady or installing a security system in your home, men must carry out their calling to protect the world they inhabit. Danger, decay and death are real adversaries, and as men, we must give our attention to shielding the people and things for which we are responsible.
(Note: This is Part 5 of our series on biblical masculinity, adapted from Men’s Leadership Training)
Men are cultivators. They are wired by God to be creative with the resources around them. To cultivate is to produce something beautiful and useful out of the raw materials available to you. So men make machines that are useful and functional, but with those machines they build beautiful buildings (which are also functional). Men make stuff, and they make it good and for the good of others. That’s what it means to be a cultivator.
However, men also misuse their creative capacities by either abusing or abandoning them. And where this imbalance occurs, we find negative stereotypes.
For instance, a man who values beauty too much may be obsessed over his appearance. Not that he seeks to be “beautiful” in the girly sense, but he seeks to be excellent and flawless. So maybe this guy is the gym rat or metrosexual, always working on his outer appearance but neglecting to develop his inner man or relationships with others. Or this could be the guy who spends long hours perfecting his lawn while his kids sit just inside playing video games because Dad doesn’t have time for them.
Consider also valuing excellence too little—a guy might be sloppy in his appearance, or overweight; a man may neglect his yard and be “that” neighbor; your coworker may work only as much as necessary to earn a paycheck and fails to do his best. And think about the ugly buildings in your city, the ones that make you think, “Whoever signed off on that?”—these buildings might be functional, but they lack beauty.
Conversely, when you over or undervalue excellence, you will probably tend to think too much or too little of usefulness. Think of the guy who is always messing with his phone, trying to stay “connected” with everyone except the person in front of him. And the guy who rarely drives his expensive car so he can keep it like new for as long as possible. Or think fo the college student who doesn’t care what his furniture looks like just so long as he has a place to sit and watch TV and a bed to sleep in.
The goal is to have a healthy balance of both beauty and usefulness, so that you aspire to create good and excellent things that are useful and good for others. Valuing one over the other creates an imbalance that keeps homes and businesses and entire cultures from flourishing.
“You have lived on the earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.” – James 5:5
The final point from our previous message in the book of James was that having wealth tests where we find comfort. It’s not wrong to find comfort in the things that money affords us; it is wrong to rely on money to bring us ultimate comfort and satisfaction. That power and ability alone belong to Jesus.
So ask yourself this question: What do you indulge in? What do you tend to obsess over? What does most of your time and energy and yes, money, go toward? This is most likely going to be a person or thing that is acting as a functional god for you, bringing you temporary fulfillment and comfort.
So is it wrong to ever indulge in something? Of course not. It would be stupid to oversimplify this issue. Wisdom is needed here. Scripture tells us that we should in fact enjoy the things that God generously gives to us, but that we should not trust in these things themselves (1 Timothy 6:17).
So the difference comes in where we put our hope. If we enjoy something in a way that diminishes the power and provision of God, we are wrongly indulging in that thing. The right way to find pleasure in our possessions would be to recognize that they are gifts from God to be used for the glory of God. In other words, don’t love your stuff; love God.
Here’s an example. Food is a very good gift from God. And food is more than a physical necessity; it also has a spiritual use. When we eat food, our bellies are satisfied and our bodies are comforted. In addition, food serves to bring friends and family together—it can be prepared in love and served generously to others. This is a good use of food. 1 Timothy 4:4 says, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.”
But what if instead of thanking God for food, we ate as if food was merely for our taste buds, for our bellies? What if instead of finding comfort in God’s daily provision of food, we found comfort in food itself, and ate as if food was the only thing that could make us happy? We would be guilty of “self-indulgence” and “luxury”, which simply means using stuff to serve yourself without giving thought or thanks to God.
Is there something you use and enjoy that you aren’t thanking God for? Could you live without that thing, or does it need to be ever-present, like God?
Your possessions are God’s provisions. Ask God to give you the wisdom to see the distinction. And never rely on your stuff to do what only Jesus can do: change you and satisfy you.
For further study: Exodus 32, Psalm 23:1, Matthew 6:19-24, 1 Timothy 4:1-5, 6:17-19
I have a hard time believing that God is okay with my mistakes. I know he can handle my sin, but when it comes to my lack of planning, my oversight, and my ignorance, I tend to think that there’s no room for forgiveness. Good thing I’m wrong.
Have you ever felt like this, like there are things in your life that are completely your fault because you failed to pay attention to details, plan ahead, save enough money, spend time with the right people, pursue the best opportunities, make the wisest choices, or just use common sense? Do you ever feel like God looks down on you and says, “That one’s on you,” as if he only cares about your sin and suffering, but not your “oops” moments?
We often push our mistakes into a gray area outside of grace, where the blame rests entirely on our shoulders. And maybe it does, but we also carry with that a false sense of rejection and failure. In a twisted sort of way, we often feel better about our situation when we sin than we just mess up. We think, “Jesus died for my sin” but we’re not quite sure what Jesus did for our goofs and screw-ups. The good thing is that Jesus died for these too.
There’s a story in the Gospel of Mark about the disciples’ poor planning (8:14-21). Just after Jesus had fed 4,000+ people with a few loaves of bread and some fish, they got into a boat and headed out to another town. As it turns out, the disciples only brought a single loaf of bread with them to feed a boat-load of men. And as usual, they started to argue with each other about who was responsible for not packing a brown bag. Somebody made a mistake. It wasn’t sin; it was just stupid.
But Jesus’ response was typical too. He basically said, “Hey, look guys, I just fed thousands of people with a fish sandwich. I can feed you too.” The disciples knew that Jesus was powerful—they had seen it in the miracle. What they overlooked though was that the point of the miracle wasn’t power—it was provision. He was willing to feed a massive crowd of people who had left home without packing a lunch, and he would take care of his disciples too.
Jesus’ best friend, Peter, knew this well. He cut off a man’s ear in a moment of misguided passion, and Jesus simply picked up the man’s ear and put it back on his head. Jesus graciously corrected Peter’s rash decision. He provided a new ear for the soldier, and another chance for Peter.
Grace doesn’t just save us from hell; it can save face too. We’re going to make mistakes, and when we do, we have to rely on the gospel in those moments like we would any other time. It’s not a problem for Jesus to clean up our messes—he’s really good at making things new again. So ask God for what you need, regardless of why you need it.
(Note: This is Part 4 of our series on biblical masculinity, adapted from Men’s Leadership Training)
When God created Adam, he put him in the middle of a garden and told him to make something of the world. We know this as the Cultural Mandate: “Be fruitful and multiply; subdue the earth and fill it; have dominion over it” (Genesis 1:28). Here we find the command to create a civilization, to cultivate the earth and turn it into something better.
As cultivators, men are to take the raw materials of the world around them and assemble them together in ways that cause others to flourish. They are to “re-create” what God has given them in creation. In order to bring about flourishing, man has two objectives in his life’s work and productivity: beauty and usefulness.
To make something beautiful means to add value to it, or bring out the value inherent in it. So architects take numbers and shapes and design skyscrapers. Janitors take cleaning products and equipment and polish a floor so that you can see your reflection in it. A fast-food employee takes various condiments and assembles a mouth-watering cheeseburger. A father takes a few blankets and chairs and creates a fortress for his children.
In all of these things, men are called to take the materials they find around them and do something wonderful with them. By organizing and assembling the pieces of creation around them, men add value and beauty to society. A flourishing culture is one in which beauty and excellence are rightly valued.
But beauty isn’t the only goal. Men must also aim to create useful things for those around them. Henry Ford took steel and screws and built cars. Louisville Slugger takes wood and makes baseball bats. Factory workers turn used tires into playground padding. A publisher takes ideas and information and publishes magazines and books.
In all of these, men must aim to contribute to the world they live in and make it functional. Just because something is good doesn’t mean it’s good for others. By creating useful things, men are enabling others to be cultivators too. A flourishing culture is one in which functionality is rightly valued.
The point is to find a balance between beauty and usefulness, between value and function. Some things will be more valuable than they are functional (a painting) and vice versa (a stop light), but overall, a culture that is flourishing is one in which there is a healthy balance of both. So men must work to create ideas and objects and places that are balanced in their beauty and usefulness.
In the last post in this series we saw that God created men to be kings. As kings, men are wired to take initiative and get things done, to have dominion over every part of their lives: over themselves, their stuff, their relationships and their work. Men are called to be get-it-done dudes who refuse to sit back and let their lives unravel and fall apart.
But as kings, men can also abuse or abdicate their power to rule. This is where we find the stereotypes of men-as-kings, as either power-hungry bullies or passive, lazy weaklings. These two extremes exist because men do not rightly use their God-given authority to rule with wisdom and justice.
Power-hungry men recognize their need to take control of their lives, but they overreach by using anger and fear to take control. They often come across as obnoxious and self-consumed. They can be tyrannical and unpredictable, and even unapproachable. They believe they are responsible for making everything happen, so they encroach on other people’s domains in order to protect themselves.
Men who are obsessed with having all the power often are covering their own insecurities and weaknesses by exploiting others. Rather than using their good instinct to bring order to their lives and their communities, they instead work hard to prove their own competence in order to always stay ahead of the person who is perceived to be a threat.
Passive men are afraid of power, and will do anything to avoid having it. They would rather be ruled than rule. They fear failure, so they don’t try to succeed at all. They do not accept responsibility over their domains, and in consequence, their lives are often on the brink of disaster. Nothing ever seems to work out for them because they never work hard at anything, and sadly, they don’t really care.
Men who are afraid of having power are “Mama’s Boys,” always relying on another person, often a nurturer, to assume responsibility for them. They are not motivated, they have no convictions about important matters, and they retreat when a stronger personality is present, including dangerous people who provoke them physically, like bullies, thugs, intruders, etc.
Men’s Leadership Training is on Wednesday evenings from 5:00-8:00 at Molly Malone’s in Covington.
(1) What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? (6) But he (God) gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:2, 6-10)
There is a way to feel sorry about your sin that is sin itself. This is called “worldly grief.” It’s ungodly because it doesn’t come from God and it doesn’t please him. It’s also ineffective because it doesn’t really change the heart. And of course the heart, according to James, is where it all starts.
But there is a way to regret your sin that will move you past surface-level tears and apologies to a much deeper, more fruitful way of living. This is called repentance, and this is from God.
In this brief passage, James gives us a picture of godly repentance, a step-by-step strategy for deep, lasting change. It involves three basic elements:
1) Identify Your Sin. James says, “Hey, all this fighting and trouble-making is coming from inside of you!” So often we look around us for the source of our problems, but all too often we are missing the real source of troubles: ourselves.
Are you secretly protecting a favorite sin of yours? Do you keep running back to the same sinful behavior—is it a habit, a pattern in your life? Are you ignoring a problem in your life? Do you have regular times of healthy self-examination? Do you reflect on readings from Scripture in a way that causes you to see your own sin? When things are hard in your life, do you blame others or do you first look for the “log in your eye?”
2) Grieve Over Your Sin. James doesn’t have in mind here some sort of ridiculous, exaggerated over-acting. Instead, James calls us to take our sin seriously—so seriously that it affects our emotions and our attitude. True repentance isn’t acting—it’s being broken by God over the condition of your heart. This may cause a few tears at the least; it will definitely be painful.
Have you been deeply broken by God over this sin? Has this conviction of sin caused you to be alarmed by the condition of your heart? Have you agreed with God that your sin is ugly? Has it led you to an emotional and physical response?
3) Receive Grace and Joy. What James is not saying is “Beat yourself up.” What James is saying is, “Accept responsibility and run to God—he will forgive you and restore you.” Real repentance doesn’t lead us to grovel in the dirt and feel bad about ourselves—that never changes anyone. Real repentance causes us to recognize that we have an enemy, Satan; it causes us to run away from evil; and it causes us to run without hesitation or fear to God, because he always has more grace for broken sinners.
Do you “grovel in the dirt” when you sin? Do you tend to feel sorry for yourself when you mess up (this is really a form of self-righteousness)? Do you move quickly past your sin and look to the unending, forever-forgiving love and grace of God in Christ? Which seems bigger to you: your sin or God’s grace?
When we sin (and we will), we must repent, but repentance doesn’t leave us in the grave. Repentance doesn’t leave us on the cross either (that was Jesus’ job). Repentance leaves us before God, broken and joyful: broken over our sin but rejoicing in his mercy and grace.
(For further study, see Psalm 51, 2 Corinthians 7, and 1 Peter 5)
We are currently in the middle of a 10 week course on manhood according to the Bible. Our last post from this series listed the skeleton of the entire course. This week, we want to lay out the details of the first archetype of biblical manhood: man as king.
Men’s Leadership Training is on Wednesday evenings from 5:00-8:00 at Molly Malone’s in Covington.
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
Most of us don’t roll out of bed every morning to a life free from disorder. We procrastinate, things don’t go as planned, people get sick, we get frustrated—all could be summed up by saying ‘life happens’. This is the existence we know of; one that is fractured. One where our circumstances intersect with our heart condition and it produces what James notes as the existence of jealousy and selfish ambition.
For those of us who are Christians, we should have no problems admitting the presence of jealousy and selfish ambition in our hearts. To varying degrees and various times, these twin sin motives can rear their ugly head in our relationships and circumstances. We are not exempt from these things because we follow Christ; if anything, the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit within us brings these things to our attention so that we can confess them as sin.
But motives are hard to decipher. They’re like code that we need the Spirit and each other to help unlock. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Trying to sort out our jealousy and selfish ambition by ourselves is a recipe for disaster.
So often, we can’t see the root of our sinful motives, but we can see the fruit. Look at what else James says: “…there will be disorder and every vile practice.” See, he’s giving us some clues. We can’t lay every sinful motivation bare in community. What we can do is do a quick heart check in the middle of our everyday. If you find jealousy or selfish ambition possibly making an appearance in your heart, ask yourself these questions:
Am I frustrated with my circumstances? Why? What is motivating me?
Where is there disorder in my relationships? How is my sin affecting others?
Am I considering vile practices due to my angst; am I thinking of gossiping, or
avoiding, or lying?
Are my heart motives springing from the love of Christ and the freedom of the
gospel, or are I concerned with ‘my rights’?
We cannot afford to be naïve. Our root of sin will break through the soil and spring up, showing its disorder and vile practice to those around us. (Num. 32:23)
Instead, let’s be people who practice pure, peaceable, reasonable, gentle wisdom with each other and everyone around us. This is a testimony to the gospel of Christ to all those around us. In order to do this, we have to be honest with our hearts, through the guidance of the Spirit, that jealousy and selfish ambition are always there waiting for us to indulge them.
For further study: Jer. 17:9, Num. 32:23
There are two ways to gossip. We can gossip with things we say or with things we listen to other people say. Both are participating in gossip.
But the Bible does not forbid talking about other people. There are numerous instances in the New Testament where people are called out by name because their sin has affected other people and those actions were reported to church leaders. A great example is Philippians 4, where a conflict between Euodia and Syntyche was permanently canonized in scripture because someone talked to Paul about it.
So we need some way to diagnose our words and our motives in order to gain wisdom about what gossip is. The questions below reveal that most of the things we say about other people are harmful rather than helpful.
Proverbs 18:19 warns, “A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.” If you are speaking gossip or listening to gossip then you are fortifying walls of distrust in other people.
Don’t do that.
(This post is connected to the Christ the King Church series on the biblical book of James called Wisdom. You can download the sermon “Taming the Tongue” here.
Last week we started Men’s Leadership Training, a 10-week course on how men can be better men. The objective is for us, as men, to see ourselves in light of who God has made us, how sin has messed us up, and how Jesus restores us.
Here is an overview of the course, a roadmap to understanding manhood:
An archetype is an ideal example of a type. As far as masculinity goes, God has made men to embody four particular expressions of manhood. These are the four spheres of a man’s life:
A stereotype is an exaggeration of a type. These two opposing extremes are displayed when a man either abuses his sphere or abandons his sphere:
A prototype is an original type or version of something that is the basis for later types. There are two prototypes for masculinity:
Men’s Leadership Training is on Wednesday nights from 5-8 at Molly Malones in Covington.
(2) For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. (8) But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
James 3:2, 8
Most of us don’t consider out tongues to be full of deadly poison. Makes me think of the spitting cobra. Ever seen one? They can spit venom almost 7 feet into the eyes of their prey in order to disable and move in for the kill. We don’t see our words as deadly poison, used to ‘move in for the kill’.
If you don’t think your tongue is full of deadly poison, consider if you do any of these three things:
1. Do you speak rashly? (Pro. 12:18, 29:20)
Do you talk without really considering what you are saying? Ever just ‘fire away’ without considering just what you are saying, and whether or not it needs to be said?
2. Do you talk too much?
“Where words are many, transgression is not lacking.” The more you talk, the more odds are your words are full of deadly poison. This is why not many of us should desire to be teachers (3:1). Consider whether or not the things you are saying really need to be said or not. Could you talk less to others and talk more to Jesus?
3. Are you regularly snared by your words? (Pro. 6:2-5)
Some of us are notorious for making promises we cannot keep, leading to disagreement between friends. Do you find yourself saying regularly, “I wish I hadn’t said that”?
Mind you, these are just three questions to ask. We could ask 30 more maybe. How did you score? I’m 0-3. When we look at what the scriptures say about things like our tongues, it is easy to despair. We think, “There is no way I can change.”
This is when we are either driven to try harder or we’re comforted by Jesus and drawn to worship him more. He is the true Word become flesh (Jn. 1:1-18). Christ has loved us and died for sin knowing we would spit deadly venom from our mouths. The resurrection reminds us that there is victory over sin and death in Jesus, not shame and defeat. As you are reminded that your words matter, remember that in Christ, our words don’t matter as much as the true Word, Jesus, dying for our sin and giving us his righteousness. This will lead us to a true change of heart and worship of Jesus.
For further study: Eph. 4:15-29, Jn. 1:1-18, Pro. 12:18, 29:20, 6:2-5, 16: 21, 23, 24, 28, Phil 2:14
There is an apparent contradiction between two verses in the Bible.
James says, “A person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24).
Paul says, “One is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28).
Although they appear contradictory on the surface, a closer examination of how James and Paul are using words shows that they are talking about two different things.
Both James and Paul (and Jesus, for that matter!) argue forcefully that saving faith will always result in a changed life; a life that is characterized by good works. But Paul and James are referring to two different things when they use the word “justified.” Paul uses the word “justified” to refer to the declaration of a person’s initial pardon at the moment of his conversion. James uses the word “justified” to refer to the final accounting of a person’s life before God on the last day.
James argues that any faith that does not produce good works is only a superficial faith. It is not real. It is a “dead” faith (James 2:14), he even says a faith that doesn’t produce good works is demonic (James 2:19). James is not saying, however, that we need to perform good works in order to be saved. The kind of faith that actually saves us is a faith that changes us and produces spiritual fruit in our lives.
Consider it this way: if a person goes through the spiritual motions of “getting saved” but is not moved to care for people in need, be more generous, experience some degree of joy and thankfulness in Christ, then what good is that kind of faith? Sobering question.
But James is not the only one who says these sorts of things. The Apostle Paul wrote similar things in the book of Titus. He says that some people “profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work” (Titus 1:6). He calls them “empty talkers” in Titus 1:10. People whose faith is nothing more than a religious accessory to round out the image of a balanced life. In Titus 3:8, Paul tells another Pastor, Timothy, this: “I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believe in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.”
Perhaps the most striking words come from Jesus himself, who said “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits (Matthew 7:19).”
James cites two examples to make his case: Abraham (Jew) and Rahab (Gentile). Both of them believed in God’s saving power, and they demonstrated their faith by incredible acts of faith. In Genesis 22, Abraham believed so strongly in God’s promise to provide him with a family, he was willing to allow his own son to die because he believed that God could even raise the dead. Rahab, who was a Gentile prostitute believed God to save her by putting her own life at risk to protect two of God’s people.
James cites these acts of faith to show that true, saving faith is lived out in every day life. When James says that “Abraham was justified by works” in James 2:21, he is saying that Abraham’s works proved in the end that his initial, saving faith was real. God did not justify Abraham because Abraham did some great work. Rather, Abraham’s faith in God was proven genuine by his works.
Consider this. Suppose a man is arrested and placed on trial for burglary. In the course of the trial, this man is able to present clear evidence that he was innocent of the crime, and he was acquitted by the judge. The man could say that the verdict justified him because he was an innocent man. But the judge could say the evidence justified him because the evidence proved he was actually innocent. The man sees his justification in terms of his actual innocence of a crime. The judge sees his justification as having been proven by evidence.
The same is true for James and Paul. Paul sees our “justification” as a declaration that God views us innocent and perfect in Christ and given new life. James sees our “justification” as the evidence of that new life demonstrated by our good works.
Thus James and Paul do not contradict each other. They are both describing different things using the same word. And both James and Paul agree that we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and that faith changes us and produces good works in us.
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!
Cramming thoughts on James 2:17 into a 400-word blog post (or a 50 minute sermon for that matter) is like shoehorning an elephant into a matchbox. Impossible. Volumes upon volumes have been written on this text; a reminder of the depth and complexity of God’s Word. The deeper we peer into it, the more complexity we see in it and in our own hearts.
Instead, let’s make one connection between verse 17 and verse 19. James, inspired by the Holy Spirit, gives us something to consider. He tells us that there is a level of information about God that even demonic beings readily acknowledge as true. Demonic theology may have some measure of technical orthodoxy, but it has no action or obedience in response.
Let’s be honest, we don’t think about demons everyday. But we should think about this; how does your faith in Christ look to yourself and the world around you today. Think back on the past 24 hours; how have you demonstrated your faith with works? Have you held your tongue? Have you prayed for wisdom? Have you served the tangible needs of another in spite of your selfish desires? Have you asked someone to forgive you and modeled the gospel of grace?
The point is not to doubt your right standing in Christ based on your works, if you are a believer in Jesus. Instead, we need to be reminded we have been…”redeem(ed) from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:14) We have been saved to good works.
But where there is a misfire between what we know to be true about God and our actions, there is sin to be repented of. When our theology and practice, our faith and works, are disconnected, we are more like a demon than a Christian, if we are prideful and unrepentant. We cannot be deceived into thinking because we know the right answers we always do the right thing.
As you think on this today, consider these things. First, the gospel of grace is that even though we constantly get it wrong, we are right before God in Jesus. Second, from this identity in Christ, we are able to do good works that please God. And finally, we live in broken world where Satan and demons are subtly active and definitely real. Rather than looking for the extraordinary, we should examine our own pride and hypocrisy, to stand on guard against the enemy.
For further reading: Ja. 3:13-15, Eph. 6:12-18, 2 Cor. 11:14, Phil. 1:6, Tit. 2:12-14.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Money and relationships are power. Wherever you are as you read this, money and relationships (or a lack of either one) have played a key role in your social status and how you see the world. Do you realize that? It is an evidence of God’s grace if you are a person who has a strong family unit and financial resources—these things are gifts to be thankful for, not feel guilty for having.
However, all to often, these ‘power’ indicators are what we use to judge a person’s importance to us. Power isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but what James is speaking of in this verse is this: if power, or social status, is what you use to judge those you associated with, that is sin.
Our world judges worth based on power rather than each human being an image bearer of God. James’ word of warning to us is a reminder that it is easy to get caught up in seeing people in a worldly way. Instead of seeing ourselves as sojourners just passing through our short time on earth, we get tunnel vision. People become valued by their ability to do something for us.
Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t judge us based on what we can do for him; the gospel is that God gave everything to those ill-deserving (us). Because of our redemption, we can in turn extend the same to those in our world who have been neglected and in some cases abandoned by society. The gospel frees us in Christ to love those who have been passed over by the power structures of this world.
So, how do you treat people who have nothing to offer you? Don’t be guilty of passing off this question without real examination. Think about this; who are your friends? Do you have people in your life that you are giving to, expecting nothing in return? Are there people around you with tangible needs you can meet? Do you have a willing heart to give both money and relationship (not just one or the other) to people who are vulnerable and in need?
The book of James pushes us to wisdom—the marriage of belief and action. Pure and undefiled religion will always have as one of its byproducts a concern and awareness for the needy among us. We live out the gospel by doing for others because of what Jesus has done for us. Be sure to check out the following references…
For further study: Pro. 19:4, 14:20, 1 Pet. 2:11, Eph. 2:19-20, Lk. 14:12-24, Ja. 4:4
*A word on using this devotional blog. The good stuff is in parentheses. Proverbs is a deep well of practical understanding for our souls that runs parallel with much of the wisdom found in the book of James. Be sure to reference the texts listed and allow God to speak to you through the power of the word. The subject matter follows along with the current sermon series in James; download each week’s podcast to journey with us.