SERMON: About The Resolution for Men

As a kid at Mahaffey Camp, I remember a speaker saying something that surprised me. They went something like this:

Now, some of you are going to really encounter Jesus at camp this year. You’ll make commitments that can change your life. Something you should give thought to is the reaction of your parents. When you tell them how your decisions and they say, “Yeah — right. We’ve heard this before. We’ll believe it when  we see it,” how will you respond.

I say this surprised me because, honestly, it never crossed my mind that a parent would be so cynical. And I immediately realized why my parents, in their wisdom, had never done such a thing: It would teach the child to, either, never make a promise again, or never share such a thing with Dad and Mom.

But I see Christians exhibiting this kind of cynicism too frequently.

Recently, men from our church stood before us and took The Resolution — from the movie Courageous:

  • I DO solemnly resolve before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children.
  • I WILL love them, protect them, serve them, and teach them the Word of God as the spiritual leader of my home.
  • I WILL be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her, and be willing to lay down my life for her as Jesus Christ did for me.
  • I WILL bless my children and teach them to love God with all of their hearts, all of their minds, and all of their strength.
  • I WILL train them to honor authority and live responsibly.
  • I WILL confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy.
  • I WILL pray for others and treat them with kindness, respect, and compassion.
  • I WILL work diligently to provide for the needs of my family.
  • I WILL forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.
  • I WILL learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a man answerable to God.
  • I WILL seek to honor God, be faithful to His church, obey His Word, and do His will.
  • I WILL courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory.
  • As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. —Joshua 24:15.

I can’t imagine a parent, brother, sister, or even an in-law responding to that in cynicism. On the other hand, I can imagine the enemy, Satan, replying in that manner. But not someone who is living in the Spirit. NEVER.

When you encounter men who have taken such a vow, don’t discourage them. Instead, may I suggest you  do two things:

  1. Pray for these men  — that they will carry out this commitment.
  2. Encourage them, telling them that you believe in the sincerity of their commitment and the power of their God.

A sermon concerning The Resolution is here.

Replacing Discouragement with Expectancy

The story is told of a man who was walking along the beach, after the tide had gone. Scattered densely on the sand were thousands of starfish that the tide had brought in, but neglected to take out. In a short time, the sun and wind would dry the starfish, leaving them dead. The man, on his daily walk, was bending down, picking them up one at a time, tossing them back into the ocean.

After watching this for a while, a tourist approached him and said, “There are so many starfish on this beach. What difference could what you are doing possibly make? What does it matter?” The man bent down, picked up another starfish, and just before tossing it into the sea said, “It matters to this one.”

If there is one tool of the enemy that is nearly universal in its effectiveness, it is the tool of discouragement. Often, because the task embodied in The Great Commission seems overwhelming, believers just give up. This podcast strives to help us avoid this. It helps us recover our lost expectations.

How do I stop being so cynical?

So recently I heard that Phil died. You didn’t know Phil, but I did. He was a pretender.

Phil came to church and pretended to be interested in order to get his wife to be a little friendlier with him. The only time Phil prayed was when the Pastor came to visit. He’d have the whole family hold hands at the table and pray together. Occasionally Phil would round up the clan and tell the he wanted them to be in church every Sunday. That lasted about a week. I say that Phil was a pretender because he was. Even those times he’d spend Sunday morning in church, Phil spent Saturday evening getting drunk. Phil had his picture in the paper for dealing drugs. And frequently, Phil’s wife would talk about his cheating and trashing the house if she objected.

So when Phil died and I read his obituary, I wanted to throw up. It said that Phil had led a life of great faith in God, that he loved God and served Him. I have to say that when I read things like that, it feeds something within me that is not healthy. It feeds my cynicism.

I struggle with cynicism. I’m not just a pessimist. A pessimist has a tendency to always expect the worst. Not just a skeptic. A skeptic has trouble believing anything good. I struggle with cynicism.

A cynic believes all people are motivated by selfishness. The outlook of a cynic is generally scornful and negative. Even if someone comes to faith in Christ and has changed, the cynic still struggles to believe it’s real. It’s not a good thing to be a cynic.

This podcast addresses the pitfall of cynicism and gives you some ladder rungs to climb to break free.