Go Small to Go Big

“My brother, here’s your WiRE for today ==>”

Go Small to Go Big

So then, as we have opportunity,
let us do good to everyone—Galatians 6:10

Once we’ve decided to do something, we men often like to “go big.” We think to ourselves: if we’re going to do this thing, let’s really do it. We can bring this kind of thinking, this “go big” mentality, to all kinds of work, even the work God calls us into—that is, the work of loving and serving others. Great things can result, of course. But the mentality can backfire, too—for example, when we set our ambitions too high, get overwhelmed, and can’t follow through. It’s interesting that, knowing us as he does, our King, Jesus Christ, suggests an opposite approach:

“This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice” (Matthew 10:40-42 MSG).

Start small! Why does something rise up in our hearts, against that approach? Well, it’s mostly because by “going big” we hope to grab a little glory for ourselves. We want others to see us and think well of us. And if we don’t “go big,” they might not actually see our accomplishments. But, Jesus reassures us: “You won’t lose out on a thing” (Matthew 10:42 MSG). We must trust his words and trust that God the Holy Spirit can do amazing things within even our smallest, most ordinary acts of love and service. And that’s plenty big for any of us.

You’re Designed for Extremes

“My brothers, here’s your WiRE for today ==>”

You’re Designed for Extremes

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot.
Would that you were either cold or hot—Revelation 3:15

There are three approaches to life with God: All In; All Out; and, in the middle, between those, a third approach. This third approach is actually a range—it encompasses every approach between the two extremes. Many of us take the third approach. I mean, we do believe life is better with God—but, our belief is more theoretical than not. We get busy with our careers, families, finances, and rarely think about actually applying the life and truth of our King, Jesus Christ, to our own, complicated lives. And so, they become indistinguishable from the lives of men All Out.

Jesus calls takers of the third approach “lukewarm,” and is particularly frustrated by us: “because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16). We third-approachers mistakenly presume we’re doing okay faith-wise—not as well as we could maybe, but okay nonetheless. Therefore, Jesus’ words are startling and challenging—and force us to consider All In.

So, what does All In require? The world tells us, too much. But, that’s wrong. It doesn’t require more than we can give. Brother, we’re designed for All In. Jesus isn’t some out-of-touch “high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15). He understands our lives. He knows what he’s asking. All In doesn’t require we be perfect; we couldn’t. It requires a soft heart―a willingness to try, genuinely, to use Jesus’ life as a pattern for our own.

Man, What’s the Point?

For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked—Psalm 73:3

Do you ever look around, at people who are prosperous and follow God either not much or not at all? Do you ever find yourself envying such people, who embrace the world wholeheartedly and enjoy it’s successes? Do you ever get discouraged? Do you ever wonder, what’s the point? I mean, do you ever just get tired of trying to follow God in the midst of people who aren’t? Are you ever tempted to relent and embrace the world a bit more, too? 

A man named Asaph, psalmist in the time of David and Solomon, was tempted to relent. He was surrounded by faithless men who seemed “always at ease” and to continually “increase in riches” (Psalm 73:12). Asaph envied them and his “heart was embittered” (Psalm 73:21). “All in vain,” he cried, “have I kept my heart clean . . .” (Psalm 73:13). We may not admit it as boldly as Asaph, but many of us harbor similar thoughts.

When we face that choice, though, to embrace God or embrace the world, we must remember—we’re part of something much larger, much more important than houses or vacations or titles. We’ve been invited into an ancient and remarkable battle. For “we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). We’re agents of the resistance, behind enemy lines. We cannot allow ourselves, therefore, to be beguiled by our enemy or the world under his power.

Okay, so what do we do?

Are you ever, like Asaph, nagged by this kind of envy? If so, talk about it. Simply talking about it—with God, a spouse, a friend, with brothers in community—undermines its power. It also allows others to keep you “fueled and aflame” for the battle ahead (Romans 12:11 MSG).

Thanks for reading, these are the words from a devotional that I read throughout the week called the Wire?. I hope they inspire you as they have me.

Arthur Poston Jr.

The Next Chapter

. . . he is a new creation. The old has passed away;
behold, the new has come—2 Corinthians 5:17

We write with God all the time. Working alongside him, we write the stories of our lives. He creates the settings and the characters. He creates the conflicts—the situations requiring choices. And we get to make those choices as the characters in his stories. God may encourage us, invite us, surprise us, persuade us, challenge us, convict us—but we and we alone decide, for ourselves.

As we move along in our stories, as we live them out, we sometimes try to convince ourselves that some decisions aren’t actually written down or that we can selectively somehow strike decisions from our stories, after we’ve made them. Looking forward, we tell ourselves, “no one will know.” Looking back, we think, “no one can ever know.” The truth is, every decision is captured: large, small, good, bad. Every decision is written into our stories, immediately, indelibly.

Thankfully, the plot God intends for us involves making some mistakes, some bad decisions, but learning from them and allowing him to redeem them. He can, you know, redeem even the worst decisions (Romans 8:28). What we must do, going forward, is to keep our stories in mind, when we come upon decision points. What we must do is ask ourselves, at those points, “What decisions do we want to be written, permanently, into our stories?” Asking ourselves that, in those moments, is how we begin to lay aside our old selves and put on our new selves (Ephesians 4:22-24).

Okay, so what do we do?

When you come to a next decision point—today, tomorrow—ask yourself, before you decide, “What do I want to be written into my story?” Ask yourself, “What do I want the next chapter of my story to be about? Trust or mistrust? Selflessness or selfishness? Love or resentment? Maturity or immaturity? Redemption or sin?”

If these words impacted you today, send them on!

These words are from the WiRE’s email publication that I receive twice a week.

Thanks for reading,

Arthur Poston Jr.

Irresponsible Worry

And which of you by being anxious 
can add a single hour to his span of life?—Matthew 6:27

Something’s coming. Doesn’t it always feel like that? Maybe it’s something financial . . . maybe work-related . . . maybe health-related . . . definitely bad. And so, we worry. I mean, it almost feels like that’s just a part of being a man, worrying about what’s coming. We worry about all the bad things that could happen, to us and to our loved ones. We scheme about how to get out in front of all those things. Then we worry some more about whether we’re actually men enough to execute our schemes. All this worrying hangs over our lives. It haunts our thoughts and steals important moments—moments that should be joy-filled.

But, it would be irresponsible not to worry, wouldn’t it? We’ve been trained to worry, all our lives. We’ve been trained that men with responsibilities are supposed to worry. It’s part of manhood.

Or is it? Our King, Jesus Christ, teaches us that it’s actually not. You see, he didn’t come so that we’d live lives haunted by fear. He came and died to set us free from such things (Galatians 5:1). He assures us, our Father God will take care of us, whether we worry or not (Matthew 6:26). We must, therefore, adopt a radical, new mindset: “We don’t know what’s coming . . . but our Father God does. So, we’ll leave it to him.

Okay, so what do we do?

Letting go of worry is tough. You must approach it not only intellectually, but practically too. You cannot simply command yourself, “worry less.” That, by itself, doesn’t work so well. You must get practical by actually talking about worries with a spouse, a friend, with brothers in community. That does work (2 Corinthians 12:9). Getting your worries out into the open is as powerful as it is counter intuitive. So, brother, defy your instincts.

If these words impacted you today, send them on! Share them:

Who’s In Your Circle

Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts:
Consider your ways—Haggai 1:5

What if the measure of a man’s life, in the end, isn’t how many hours he’d logged in pews on Sundays? What if it isn’t how many times he’d read through the Gospels? What if the measure is, rather, only how he’d treated people around him? What if it’s how well he’d noticed and met the needs of people who came into close proximity? Well, brother, if those aren’t the only things measured, they’ll certainly be among the most consequential.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory . . . he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left” (Matthew 25:31-33).

Our King, Jesus Christ, in his sheep-and-goats discourse, teaches that our lives will indeed be measured—and he tells us how. By doing that, ahead of time, before we’re actually gathered before him, he gives us a decision framework, one we can use during our lifetimes. On that day, he won’t ask for a church attendance record. He will ask how much we’ve used our lives for other people, especially those in need (Matthew 25:34-40).

Okay, so what do we do?

Throughout your day, today, imagine a circle—one with a 2-meter radius, you at the center. Notice who comes into that circle. Log their names. Notice and write down their needs—friendship, mercy, love, tough love, hope—and how you might help meet them.

(There’s nothing special about 2m. What matters is increasing intentionality. And, truly, a man could spend his entire lifetime just trying to meet the needs of people who’d come into his 2m circle—so, it’s a good place to start.)

Messin’ With Your Heroes

Therefore be imitators of God—Ephesians 5:1

Really? Is it so wrong for us to emulate the life of another man or woman? Is it so wrong to hold another person up, as a role model? Well, the answer is (as it often is) . . . it depends. It depends on what exactly, in the person, we long to emulate. If it’s Christlikeness only—if it’s only how the person demonstrates Jesus Christ to us and to others—then, no, it’s not so wrong. We’re meant to be, for one another, physical examples of how to follow Jesus ever more closely. Watching another person move further into the character of Christ helps us move further, too. That’s how it’s supposed to work. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Too often, though, that’s not the way it actually works. Too often, we look up to men and women—and strive to emulate them—for the purpose of becoming more like them, and not more like Jesus. Too often, it’s worldly things that draw us in: a person’s success, their achievements, their talent, their career, their money, their power, their possessions. We men fall into this a lot. And the problem is the same whether the things coveted are secular or ecclesiastical in nature. We can lift any person too high: magnate or minister, entrepreneur or entertainer, priest or professor. We can lift them so high they begin to obscure Jesus.

Okay, so what do we do?

Hero worship is a sensitive subject. We men like our heroes. And we don’t like people to mess with them. We must be careful, though, that no person (great though they may be) gets between us and the ultimate hero. Examine your heart. Wrestle with the issue. Discuss it openly with some brothers—and with God, in prayer.

If these words impacted you today, send them on! Share them below:

 

Who are you?

Have you ever asked yourself who you are?

I have, earlier in my life I asked this question of myself a lot. There would be times when I would come across something I could do well and try to identify myself with that. The person I am currently in a relationship with or the children I am raising I would try to identify myself as that. I am neither of those things.

I AM A MAN FIRST.

Which kind of man and where do I pull my strength from? I am a Christian man; from there I can be anything that Christ chooses for me to be.
Notice that I said that I can be anything that Christ chooses for me to be. I didn’t say that I could be who I want to be. I am walking the path designed for me.

Brothers we all have a path to walk, we can choose out the path or we can let Christ choose it for us. I have made my choice; now you guys have to make yours.

Choose Wisely…

That was in my heart to give to the men I know, that may be struggling with that same thought I as I have before.

I appreciate you reading,

Arthur Poston Jr.

Too Busy? Hmmm . . .

Look carefully then how you walk . . . making the best use of the time, because the days are evil—Ephesians 5:15-16

When sacred opportunities come—opportunities to listen, to care, to encourage, to serve, to give, to tell others about our faith—we men often use a tactic called “too busy, right now.” We say the words out loud, sometimes. More often, we say them to ourselves and just keep moving. We then rationalize the dodge by using a second tactic, one called “make up for it later.” That is, we imagine ourselves jumping into other, similar opportunities, eventually—when things slow down a bit maybe.

God knows we’re busy. He sees how busy we are, right now. And he calls us still. You see, these sacred opportunities don’t come by chance. He places them carefully in front of us. He knows we’re busy . . . and he knows what he’s doing. He knew what he was doing when he called Simon and Andrew when the brothers were busy fishing (Mark 1:16-18). He knew what he was doing when he called James and John when those brothers were busy mending nets (Mark 1:19-20). He knew what he was doing when he called Levi when Levi was busy collecting taxes (Mark 2:14). He knows what he’s doing when he calls us too, even when we’re busy. He doesn’t wait because he knows our time is scarce. He knows that we have none to waste.

“We must work the works of him who sent me while it is the day; night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4).

Okay, so what do we do?

What was your last sacred opportunity, brother? What did you do? Is the opportunity still open? If not, take a moment to decide what you’ll do the next time a sacred opportunity comes. Commit to stepping into it and making the most of the precious time you’ve been given.

If these words impacted you today, send them on! Share them with someone else today.

Who Are Your Heroes?

Worship the Lord your God, and only him.
Serve him with absolute single-heartedness—Matthew 4:10

We men like heroes. We like to look upward. We start early, as boys, looking up to men and women who do amazing things on grass and turf and hardwood and ice. As we get older, we shift our “looking up” to those who do amazing things in classrooms, boardrooms, laboratories, legislatures . . . to those who speak and create and negotiate, to those who research and discover and write.

There’s nothing wrong with honoring and admiring other people. Something is wrong, though, when honoring or admiration becomes worship—when we devote our lives to becoming just like our heroes. You see, heroic images are false. They are false because they’re incomplete. Heroic images portray the good and obscure the bad. We think, “he’s got it together”—“great job, great wife, great bank account, great house” . . . “must be nice.” What we don’t see is what’s broken. Something always is: “For we all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2). Maybe it’s what was sacrificed in order to achieve the heroic image. Not realizing we’re misled, though, we decide to chase their images, to model our lives after theirs. Not realizing we’re misled, we end up imitating their brokenness.

When we worship heroes, we do like the ancient pagans who “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). The truth is, no person, past or present, is worthy of our worship . . . except one.

Okay, so what do we do?

Who are your heroes? Have you ever walked the line between admiration and hero worship? Have you ever held another (broken) person in too high esteem? If you’ve crossed that line, simply confess it to God in prayer. And commit to worshiping no man but our worthy King, Jesus Christ.

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