We live in a culture that celebrates the “in only 20 minutes a day, you can have a body that looks like this!” mentality. In lives that just seem to get busier and busier, it makes sense on the surface that if I am going to change in an area, I want a process that is going to give maximum benefits through minimal resources or time.
The problem is that it simply does not work. And yet I seem to think that “maybe this one will be different, maybe this will one will actually take.” And like a mountain, I cannot climb it in “20 easy steps.” It is a step-by-step, day-by-day discipline.
It doesn’t work in our spiritual life either
I too often treat my spiritual life in this way and it bleeds into my relationships, especially with that of my wife and kids. I talk to a lot of guys and we often have discussions that lead into their personal lives. Guys, we are a struggling bunch. Oh sure, on the outside we may seem to give the appearance of “life under control,” but that is only because we give very little time to community with our wives or other guys where there is opportunity to get below the surface into one’s authentic life.
Marriages are stale. Lives feel listless or boring. The weight of our world is slowly crushing the life out of us. We walk around inwardly discouraged but outwardly “living the dream.” How many guys have I talked with whose marriages are hemorrhaging, lives are distracted, wanting to change but never really getting there.
Answer? Too many.
And there seems to be one common theme among all these guys.
They just are not in the Word consistently. Or ever. And yet they presume an attitude of “Yeah, I need to be but just struggle finding the time. I never get anything out of it anyway.” And the overflow of that mentality is seen in their leadership, both in and outside of their home.
If the Scriptures are God’s primary method for speaking to us (and they are), and if we cannot please God without faith (and we cannot), and if faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (and it does), then it is no surprise why we guys are drifting, unengaged, and lack God’s power.
The simplicity of a solution
I have a good friend who was feeling some sudden joint pain and major fatigue. And so he got tested for a number of different ailments, all of which came back negative. Then one curious doctor did a different type of test and found out my friend was dangerously low on his vitamin D.
And so he is taking 50,000 mg of vitamin D per day to get his levels back to where they need to be. And guess what? Symptoms are gone and he is making his way back to great health. But this all started with a correct diagnosis.
With all of the spiritual symptoms you may feel today as a guy, do you realize that every answer, every cure, is found within the pages of God’s letters to you? Quit going to porn, quit going to hobbies, quit disengaging.
Learn what God has written to you, all pointing to His Son Jesus. Then think about it. But know this – it is going to take more discipline than the discipline it takes to read the news ticker at the bottom of the screen on ESPN. Great info and I enjoy it. But it is purely informational and demands no engaging.
I got a great tool from the reading of When I Don’t Desire God, by John Piper. He uses the acronym IOU’S. I have been praying each of these more often as I begin to get into reading sections of Scripture.
I – incline my heart to You, God
O – open my eyes to see what You desire me to see
U – unite all the facets of my heart, even the rogue and rebellious ones, to be fully united in You.
S – satisfy me with Yourself
Unfortunately, there is a poor view of reading in general among too many guys. And that disdain has attached itself to reading Truth. We want the easier path of absorbing instead of working. Kind of a godliness by osmosis.
Guys, I cannot urge you enough. Read Truth. Read what God has already written to you and for you. And take time to think on how God is desiring to change you. If you do not know how, ask. If you do not want to, then repent, because the issue is not with God’s content. I hear guys tell me their marriage is a wreck, they are not satisfied in life, and they do not seem to make the connection that their lack of ingesting God’s Truth is ruining them.
Here is the type of attitude I need in my life. Listen to the Psalmist describe the importance of Scripture in his life in Psalm 119:9-16:
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.
Get in it every day. Find time – morning, afternoon, or evening, to see what God has for you that day. And begin to see God as the one who actually sustains you, who is more about your joy than even you are. Allow it to undo your heart’s rebellion and replace old desires with new desires. Then watch Truth transform your thinking and begin to overflow it into your home, your wife, your kids, your vocation.
Because Truth is what changes us – not more effort or good intentions.
The gospel was never meant to be compartmentalized nor used as a last ditch effort. It really can do what it claims to do. I like what Ravi Zacharias says,
Jesus Christ did not come to make bad people good, but to make dead people alive.
Guys, let’s repent of our lazy view of change and more fully understand that gospel grace is bigger than our own mess.