Apr 262012

For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law.

Nehemiah 8:9 (ESV)

On average, Bible readers in the United States personally own 4 copies of Scripture. Eighty-four percent of readers have more than one Bible. With the amount of Bibles we have and the easy accessibility of obtaining a new one, I still wonder how many really read the Word and desire to study it. Are we like Ezra, the priest? In Ezra 7:10, we read, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” Does that verse describe you? In America, we are so blessed to have access to so many Bibles, Bible translations, Bible dictionaries, Bible encyclopedias, Bible maps, language tools, study Bibles, lexicons, and the list could go on an on. But do we really use them or do we take all these things for granted? There are still hundreds of people groups in the world today who do not have the Bible in their own tongue.

What is your reaction when you come in contact with the Word? Do you merely read it out of obligation? Do we come to the Word with a heart of thanksgiving that we have been given the very words of life? In Nehemiah 8, the people gather as one while Ezra the priest reads the Law to them. In 8:5, Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it the people stood. When Ezra and the other Levites exposited the Word and explained it to the people, the people wept when they heard the words of the Law and because they could understand it.

What do you think it would be like to witness a people group receiving a Bible for the time? I am giving you a link to see it. I was pointed to this link in my missions class at Southern. It will move you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9dpmp_-TY0. It’s a ten minute video of the Kimyal tribe in Papua, Indonesia, receiving copies of the Bible in their own tongue for the first time. I pray this video will challenge you to be more thankful for your Bible. I pray that you and I will read it and study it more, that its truth will sink deep into our hearts, that we will apply it to our lives, and that we will teach it to others. It would also be a wonderful thing if many would be stirred to work in Bible translation. There are still so many who have never experienced what the Kimyal people have experienced. Don’t take your Bible for granted. Get into it today!

Apr 182012

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (ESV)

Tonight, the men of our church will begin a new study based on Richard Phillips’ book, The Masculine Mandate. Our men’s and women’s small groups meet the 1st, 3rd and 5th Wednesday nights of the month, while our prayer meetings are held the 2nd and 4th Wednesday nights. Our women will be studying Jerry Bridges’ book, The Discipline of Grace. I’m excited about what both groups will be learning. I desire for myself and for the men of RBC to grow in Biblical manhood. But what is Biblical manhood? What does it mean, as Paul addressed to the men in 1 Corinthians 16:13, to “Act like men”? The word is ἀνδρίζεσθε, which is an imperative form of ἀνδρίζομαι. It is rooted in the word for “male” or “husband.” This is a word that describes manly characteristics. Men are to be brave, valiant, and courageous. Men need to step up in their God-given role and exhibit Biblical, manly characteristics. There are other qualities and principles, however that the Scriptures teach regarding Biblical manhood.

Phillips’ book takes us back to Genesis to demonstrate from Scripture what it means to be a man. He then applies Biblical masculinity as it relates to the covenantal relationships that God has placed in a man’s life. Those include marriage, children, church family, work relationships and friends. Last year, my accountability partner (Christopher Sgambati) and I read through this book together and we found ourselves challenged with every page. The book helped me immensely and I really wanted all of the men at RBC to read it and discuss it so that we will grow as godly men. I do not want to give away at this point the main message of the book. But I do want to challenge the men of RBC to be open and honest, to be humble and teachable, to be loving and kind, to be strong and to stand firm, to lead with courage and faith, to be gracious and meek, and to pursue Christ with all our hearts. God is giving us this opportunity to grow together and I pray we will seize it and pursue true, Biblical masculinity. Men of RBC, do not neglect this!

I find it very helpful for my spiritual well-being, and the well-being of my home and church, to share my life with many men. I want my life to be an open-book, not to only a few, to all the godly men that God brings into my life. I want them all to know my struggles and fears. I want them to know what is going on in my life. I do not want to broadcast an image that appears healthy and strong when it is not.

What I want to do now is mention the names of the men that God has placed in my life right now. My dad, Willi Schakat, who just turned 75 years old on Monday! My two brothers in the flesh and Spirit, Tim Schakat and Tom Schakat. My father-in-law Robert Busbee, and my brothers-in law, Chris and Jason Busbee. I’m thankful I can be close to all my blood-kin. All are filled with wisdom and I know I can call them at any time.

Jeff Robinson, my friend for many years, is a constant encouragement and support. Baseball brought us together (through the Cincinnati Reds), but God’s Spirit has given us a true brotherhood. My accountability partner and friend, Christopher Sgambati, who meets with me virtually every Friday morning at 6:45! He prays for me faithfully and gives me the hard words when necessary. All of the men at RBC. I so appreciate your friendship (Doug, Michael, Wally, Scott, Jimbo, Mike F., Jim, Jim Jr., Bill, Joey, Kevin). I also need to mention two brothers, Byron and Howard McCombs for their listening ear and godly insight. Both of you are treasured friends.

I feel very blessed to have these men in my life. As you can see, many that I mentioned do not attend RBC. That’s a great thing. But for those who do, I want us to get to know each other better during this study. I desire a true brotherhood to flourish that will produce much fruit for Christ’s Kingdom. Ladies of RBC, we will pray for you, that Biblical femininity will flourish too. We pray your study in sanctification will be a blessing in your life. Again, do not neglect God’s means of grace to you. Make every effort to participate. These studies will take us deeper in the Word and, I pray, will cause us to do much needed self-examination. I pray that we will all learn to cherish the Gospel more each day for we know that it is only by His Grace that we stand.