Posts Tagged men

MEN AND THE BOYS THEY TEACH

By Matt Greco

Article from the Jully 2012 FCC Newsletter

Rodney Dangerfield is credited with saying, “Last night I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.” You can almost see him pulling at his tie and swiveling his head as he makes that remark. I have never been to a professional fight nor have I ever been to a hockey game of any type, but I get the joke. There are a lot of fights in hockey games.

Well, I went to a basketball game the other night and a “life lesson” broke out! I was not expecting a life lesson to be taught during a basketball game. What happened during the game, what I have been learning from it, and how I am going to apply it to my life is what this article will address.

My 13-year-old son, Gabe, played with the FCA Knights summer league basketball team. The summer league is more relaxed, there is only one practice and one game per week, the coaches know that players have vacations and summer jobs that sometimes conflict, etc… Still, it is a way for him to remain active and improve at a sport he likes.

The teams in this summer league are made up of players that have not graduated from High School. The game we played the other night was against a team that had mostly 11th and 12th graders and our team was mostly 8th – 10th grades. And this other team was GOOD! They had six players over 6’2” and a couple of their guys were 6’6” or 6’7”. They had a couple of guys who dunked during the game!

Our boys stayed with them the first three minutes, and then it was pretty much over. The other team led at halftime by 30 some points and in the second half, it got worse.

But our team never stopped fighting. Shakur Campbell, another 8th grader from FCA had a great game, scoring points, making steals, battling for rebounds, and blocking shots. Gabe blocked a couple of shots and scored several times. But our team got very tired as we only had 7 players and they had 11 players.

But, this article is not about trying no matter what the score or triumphing through adversity or giving 100% as long as there is still time left on the clock, etc…. This is about my righteous attitude, my judgment of another, and how we as men (and women) teach our children whether or not we believe there is lesson in progress.

With four minutes left in the game and the score 84 to 30, the other team’s coach put the starting 5 back in the game. The only plausible reason to do that was so their team could score 100 points. 54 points ahead, but that wasn’t enough for this coach!

Man did I ever get a righteous anger about me! What does this coach think he is doing? These are “Christians” playing! How DARE they run up the score!! Really? This is summer league basketball, it is the 12th graders versus the 8th and 9th graders, and do you really need to rub our boys’ faces in it? I envisioned a scene where I would accomplish my full revenge. It would be in that coach’s office as I quoted Scripture and he received my wrath face to face. A couple of verses came to mind:

  • Proverbs 8: 13 – Pride and arrogance and the way of evil (running up the score) and perverted speech I hate.
  • Proverbs 16: 18 – Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.

I slept on it, and for some reason prayed about it, and the more I thought about how I was going to give this errant coach a Scriptural piece of my mind, a couple of other verses came to me:

  • Luke 6: 42 – Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
  • Romans 14: 4 –Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

In the end, the Lord used this game to teach me about my anger and His omnipotence.

I talked to Gabe about the kicking they received and I shared with him my anger and how the Lord was dealing with me and my anger. I talked with him about how he and Shakur and the rest of the guys never stopped battling and how that was a great lesson for me. We talked about how his coach, Steve Hendrick, kept his cool and kept encouraging the boys. If Steve was angry, he never showed it. I told Gabe that Coach Hendrick taught me something that evening.

So I guess, after all, the Lord is still working on me. He is in control even if the game you are playing in (I am playing in) is really lopsided. He is in control if other “Christians” act in an unchristian like manner. I am learning that very seldom is mine a righteous anger, but I can trust in the Lord no matter what the score of the game is.

So men, be ready to teach and to learn from your children, your wife, and your fellow believers. Some of life’s best lessons are taught and learned when you least expect it.

Sincerely and in Christ,

Matt Greco

Matt is the Headmaster at FCA and serves on the missions committee at FCC.

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Taking Time to Think Through Tim Tebow

1 Timothy 4: 12 – Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

In my 40 some years as a sports fan, I have never heard, seen, or read as much, in such a short amount of time, as I have about Tim Tebow.  For those of you who may not know, Tim Tebow is a 2nd year quarterback in the National Football League (NFL) with the Denver Broncos.  I have been thinking through all that I have heard, seen, and read about this young man and I wanted to share a few insights that seem appropriate in this venue.

LOVE TO HATE HIM – It seems to me that a majority of those who have the floor, so to speak, hate Tim Tebow.  I have never heard sportscasters spew such vitriol towards such a seemingly harmless guy.  They hate it when he wins, they hate it when he loses, they hate it that he gets publicity, they hate it that he makes a difference because, “he is not that good,” and they hate it that his teammates and coaches think he is great!big-game-party-church-website-banner

And it is not only the sportscasters.  I recently read an article about Tebow that had 155 readers’ comments.  Out of those 155 comments, 10 were neutral, 20 were positive, and 125 or 80% were negative.  Many of them mocked Tebow personally and many mocked his faith.  This is only one sampling, but it seems that 8 out of 10 are not in favor of Tim.

Tebow’s response to all this; he is humble and gracious win or lose, he says he has a lot to learn about playing in the pros, and he gives the credit to the Lord, his teammates, and his coaches.  SO, what is the big deal and why should I care?  Here are three things to think about.

  1. HE IS FAVORED BY GOD – What if God really favors Tim Tebow? It wouldn’t be the first time that God favored someone. We read in Scripture how God favored Noah, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Jacob, Joseph, Ruth, David, Solomon, Mary, the apostles, etc…  Think about the battles won against overwhelming odds, the miracles performed for individuals and nations, and the blessings beyond belief or measure.  God definitely favors those He chooses to favor.

But, does God really favor anyone today?  Yes, look in the mirror!  If you were born and live in the USA you have been favored and blessed in many ways.  If you are a believer, you are favored by God in ways that are beyond belief, amazing, and are both present and future in nature.  From what I can tell, Tim Tebow has been favored by God, and I think that really, really irritates some people.

  1. HE SEEMS TO PRACTICE WHAT HE “PREACHES” – Some years back an NFL player was given publicity about his fine moral character, his Christianity, his example to his teammates and his city. The next week he was caught soliciting a prostitute while in a different city. His team lost the next game and he faded from the limelight.  For the past several years, Tebow has acted like he is Christian, both on and off the field.  He says he never asks God to win a game, only to do his best.

He does not use God as a “good luck charm” and would discourage anyone to do so.  Over and over again his life and what he says match up.  He is humble and gracious whether he wins or loses.  And he has had his share of winning.  While in college he quarterbacked two teams that won the national championships.  He won one Heisman award and came in second twice.  This year he took a team that was 1 – 4 and won 7 of the next 11 games on route to putting Denver in the playoffs.  They won their 1st playoff game in dramatic fashion and got crushed in the 2nd game.

When asked how he felt about the crushing loss to New England, he said that he likes to win more than lose, but that he learned a lot and he looked forward to getting better.  He thanked the Lord for the abilities he had, he talked about making the playoffs when no one thought they would, he said he would be working hard during the off-season, and he mentioned how happy he was to be on the team.

NO WONDER THEY HATE HIM, CAN HE REALLY BE THIS NICE???

Then he talked about how he visited a young football player who had been paralyzed and how they shared some time together before the game.  He shared how this young man told Tim that it the best day of his life because they shared time together!  Tebow then said that it was hard to be upset when you have made somebody’s best day of their life.

  1. WHAT WE CAN DO AS FELLOW BELIEVERS – I believe the Lord has each one of His children placed where He wants them. You and I have a responsibility as believers to glorify and honor God no matter what we do. (Colossian 3: 17, 23) God has a job for each of us to do and it just so happens that some jobs are higher profile than others.  Whether a doctor, lawyer, teacher, butcher, baker, or candle stick maker we all should do EVERYTHING to God’s glory!  Tim Tebow is an example for us to follow!

But beyond our personal responsibility to glorify God in everything we do, I believe we should pray for this young man of the Lord.  He is in a very, very high profile position and he has people attacking him, tempting him, and doing all they can to discredit him and Our Lord.  We should pray for him as he strives to be an example of what it is to be a child of God.  Praying for him does not take away from anyone else who is a true believer and it doesn’t mean that you are a Denver Broncos fan.  It is something small we can do as faithful servants to help another faithful servant.

Sincerely and in Christ,

Matt Greco

Posted in: Christian Living, Men's Ministry

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COULD I WRITE ABOUT IT IN A COUNTRY AND WESTERN SONG?

By Matt Greco

Most of you know who Tim McGraw is but until I returned from Argentina, I was not sure who he was.  Tim McGraw is a MEGA SUPERSTAR in the entertainment world.  He dominates the Country & Western music scene (over 40,000,000 sold), has had several crossover musical successes, has had critical acclaim in the movies (he was the dad in both Friday Night Lights and The Blind Side), and has his star on the Hollywood walk of fame.  To use a sports example, he has hit over 500 home runs in pro baseball, he is a stand out for the special teams in pro football, and he has made the team in pro basketball!mcgraw

I had a chance to meet Mr. McGraw when he was in town giving a concert.  His tour manager is the sister of my wife’s best friend (no kidding), so we got backstage passes and free barbeque! My family and I had about three minutes with the guy.  I asked him how he managed to be a performer and a family man. He told me that he and his wife (superstar Faith Hill) never tour at the same time.  He said that way he can focus on work on the road and focus on the family at home.

Then he asks me what I did and I told him I worked for a Christian school and a church. For about 30 seconds he lost the aura of Country & Western / Hollywood superstar and he asks, “Do you have any advice for dealing with a 13-year-old daughter?”  I looked at him and said, “Prayer!” He smiled and nodded and it was about then he had to leave and go do his show.

In those moments I realized that Tim McGraw and I were exactly alike.  Well, he is younger, better looking, world famous, rich, can sing, and can act, but other than that we are alike.  He worries about things that money, fame, and a great singing voice can’t solve.  Both of us are concerned about how to raise our children, how to do our jobs, and how to lead our families.  If we had had more time we might have talked about other things.

Now I may never get another chance to talk to Tim McGraw or anybody else famous, but I will interact and talk to hundreds of people every year and so will you.  You can bet that they worry about their children, their marriages, their jobs, what happens when they die, etc…!  We can help them find the answer because we have a relationship with the answer and the answer is Jesus!

JOHN14: 6JESUS IS THE WAY, AND THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE.   Jesus sets the standard when He said that He is the way, the truth, and the life.  There is no problem that Jesus cannot handle.  Whatever the circumstance, large or small, Jesus is the answer.  Do you know this?  Do you understand this?  Do you live this?  Could you explain it to someone who asked you?

1 PETER 3:15 – BE PREPARE TO GIVE AN ANSWER. As believers, we have a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus and through that relationship we have hope.  Peter instructs us to be prepared to give an answer to those who ask about the hope we have, but to answer in a respectful and gentle way.  Whether we are talking to the famous or the infamous, the rich or the poor or anyone in between, we can and should share the wonderful answer that Jesus Christ is for all who believe.

Matt Greco is a member of FCC and the headmaster of Faith Christian Academy.

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THE RIGHTEOUS TRAFFIC JUDGE

By Matt Greco

Do you ever read something in Scripture that makes you shake your head and say, “Did the Lord really mean to say that?”  I love most of God’s Word and I am trying, with His help, to love all of His Word, but sometimes I am startled by what I read.  When Jesus instructs me to “Love your enemies” and “pray for those who persecute you,” I balk and think perhaps the Lord doesn’t know my enemies and persecutors!Righteous Judge

My friend Rob and I are working through a book together and through our study I have been confronted with my lingering, sinful attitudes of JUDGEMENT!  My lovely wife gave me the moniker of “Righteous Traffic Judge” while we lived in Argentina.  I guess I had made one too many comments about how the Argentines drove and she asked, quite seriously, who made me the “Righteous Traffic Judge”? I thought that after sitting under Pastor Jack’s teaching on how to handle conflict Biblically, my righteous and biblically defendable judgment had been sanctified!  No such sanctification. Recently I read, again, these startling words of our Savior (Matthew 5):

 22“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.  23“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,  24leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

SO what you are saying, Lord, that even if I know my brother has something against me, it is up to me to make the first move toward reconciliation?  I have learned that this is impossible for me to do alone.  Even with the help of the Holy Spirit, I am and can be encouraged by other Christian men who will pray with me, encourage me, and who will hold me accountable.  That is part of what we want our Men’s Ministry to be about here at Faith Community Church.

What are your struggles?  Do you struggle with anger or with contentment or with consistency in your Christian walk or in your identity in Christ?  Come join us in the Men’s Ministry here at FCC and be a part of a group of men who will pray with you and encourage you and hold you accountable.

 

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Men of Faith and Obedience

By Matt Greco

There are many wonderful and amazing stories in the book of Joshua. One of my favorite stories comes chronologically after the two spies return from spying out Jericho and before Israel marches around her walls.  The story which I am mentioning is the crossing of the Jordan River into the Promised Land.  A few sentences in this newsletter cannot do this wonderful miracle justice, but let’s look at a few key elements and apply them to our situation here and now some 2800 years later.March31

River at flood stage – The Jordan River was at flood stage (3:15) and if you know anything about a flooding river, they move fast and furious and it is not something anyone would want to cross.  What are the floods that are moving fast and furious in your life?  Is there some situation that has overflowed the banks of your control and is now stopping you from moving forward? Growing up, I can remember watching the Medicine Lodge River when it was flooding and thinking how impossible it was to cross, knowing that even the day before I crossed it.  You may have guessed, but the Medicine Lodge River is smaller than the Jordan River!  Some experts have suggested that stopping the Jordan at its widest at flood stage was physically and geologically (scientifically) more difficult than parting the Red Sea at it shallowest.  But really, what is it that our God cannot do?!

Men taking faith steps – The priests who were carrying the ark were taking faith steps.  It would have been impossible to tell where the flood waters started and the river bank dropped off, but these men who were carrying the ark were instructed and obeyed the instruction to walk to the middle of this raging, rolling river.  They stepped out in faith and the nation of Israel followed.  What are the faith steps that you need to take in your life?  Are you being obedient to the Lord so that others may follow?  Men in our Men’s Ministry are encouraged to step out in faith as we study God’s Word and fellowship together.

Standing on a firm foundation – 3:17 Informs us, “All the priests who carried the ark… stood firm on dry ground…all Israel crossed on dry ground…”  Have you ever watched a river dry up?  It may take months for the water to dry up, but always after the water has dried up the river bottom is soggy.  ISRAEL CROSSED ON DRY GROUND!  No soggy bottoms here, boys, just dry ground.  Reminds me of walking in the fire and coming out without even the smell of smoke. Have you trusted the Lord to walk you across the trials of your life?  Are you standing firm on Jesus Christ as your foundation?

Matt Greco is the Headmaster of Faith Christian Academy.

Posted in: Men's Ministry

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Standing Before Kings

kingsBY MATT GRECO

Proverbs 23: 29 reminds us, “Do you see a man skilled in his work?  He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.”  Scripture doesn’t qualify this statement and neither should we.  If you are skilled at whatever you do, you will stand, or you will have a place to stand, before kings.  We might not have the opportunity to actually stand in the presence of an earthly king, but someday we will all stand before THE KING. Scripture teaches us that the Lord is concerned with how well we do the work that He has given us to do.

As I watch the World Cup, I’m impressed by the excellent condition of the pitches (the grass).  Pam and I visited South Africa in 2007 and saw the preparation the country was making to host the Cup in 2010. Those preparations are now stadiums with pitches that are among the most excellent in the entire world.  The best players from each country play on these fields and are watched by all manner of men and women, kings and queens included.

The guys that are responsible for the grass, whether it is the dirt man, the fertilizer man, the grass man, the mower man, etc… they are all standing in front of kings!  I am sure as they watch these matches they feel a pride in the job that they have done.  But, I believe, they were “skilled in their work” before they were called on to have a hand in making these fields so very beautiful.

A question I asked myself and will ask you is, “How well are you doing the job that the Lord has given you to do?”  No matter if you are a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker, etc… we are to work according to Colossians 3: 17, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”   As men, we were created to honor God in our work!  This is a concern we teach and hold in high regard in the Men’s Ministry at Faith Community Church (FCC).

I encourage you to take an active part in the Men’s Ministry at FCC.  Get involved in accountability relationships with brothers in Christ through one of our many fellowship groups, Bible studies, prayer meetings, etc. We look forward to having you become an important part of the Men’s Ministry at Faith.

Matt Greco is a member of FCC and Headmaster at FCA.

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The Sinkhole Syndrome

BY DONALD S. WHITNEYsinkhole

You know the story. The man has been believer in Christ for decades. To all outward appearances he’s a man of Christian faithfulness and integrity. He has maintained a reputation as a fine example of public and private faithfulness to the things of God for decades. Then, without warning, it all collapses into a sinkhole of sin. Everyone wonders how it could have happened so quickly. In most cases, it soon becomes known that—like most sinkholes—the problem didn’t develop overnight.

Several years ago, this man likely had a relatively consistent devotional life through which the Lord often refreshed, strengthened, and matured him. But with each passing year, his busy life became ever busier. Increasingly he saw his devotional life more as a burden—a mere obligation sometimes—than a blessing. Because of the massive doses of Bible teaching he’d heard—in addition to the knowledge gained teaching church Bible classes himself—he began to imagine that he needed less private prayer and Bible intake than when he was younger and not as spiritually mature. Besides, he had so many other God-given responsibilities that surely God would understand that he was too busy to meet with Him every day.

One small concession led to another; one plausible rationalization led to the next, until the devastating day when a tipping point was reached, and the spiritual weakness developed by too many private compromises could no longer sustain even the appearance of Christian integrity. And into the sinkhole fell his reputation, witness, ministry, and perhaps much more.

If you’re a strong young Christian, passionate about the things of God, and you find it impossible to imagine yourself coming to such a condition: beware. This situation could easily be yours in a few years. The words of 1 Corinthians 10:12 are an apt admonition here: “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”

I’ve been in pastoral ministry for twenty-four years. For fifteen years I’ve been a professor of biblical spirituality. I’ve written several books and many articles related to spirituality. I speak on the subject to future ministers and missionaries on a daily basis in the seminary classroom, and in churches and conferences around the country almost every weekend. And yet I will freely admit that it’s harder for me to maintain my devotional life now than ever in my life. That’s because I’m busier now than ever. I have many more responsibilities than I had as a young man. And they all take time, time that must come from somewhere.

As the pressures of life increase and more deadlines loom, it becomes harder to maintain time for the devotional life. “Who will know if I abandon a consistent prayer life? Who can tell if I seldom turn the pages of Scripture? I know the Bible pretty well already, and I hear it a lot at church. God has given me this busy life; surely He understands.” And the erosion begins.

At the outset it’s likely that very few will know when the hidden part of your spiritual life begins crumbling. Just as imperceptible movements of water underground can carry away the earth beneath long before anyone on the surface perceives it, so the pressures of life can secretly displace the soil of our private spiritual disciplines long before the impact of their absence is visible to others. The more public parts of a Christian’s life, such as church involvement and various forms of ministry, can often continue with little observable change right up until the awful moment of collapse and the hypocrisy is revealed.

I’m sure you’re already familiar with many factors that undermine intimacy with Christ. Realize that it’s almost certain that the number of time-thieves trying to steal from your time with God will only increase as the years pass. My hope is that this article will alert you to this subtle, creeping tendency so that it won’t overtake you.

Never be deceived by the temptation to think that with the increasing spiritual maturity you expect to come with age, the less you will need to feast your soul on Christ through the Bible and prayer. What Jesus prayed in John 17:17 for all His followers—”Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth”—applies to us all throughout our lives.

Jesus practiced what He prayed for us. While Jesus is infinitely more than our example, nevertheless He is also our example of sanctified living, of living coram deo. The Bible tells us (in Luke 4:16) that Jesus regularly attended when God’s people assembled to hear the Scriptures, and also that He would get alone to meet with His Father (Matthew 14:23). Jesus’ followers need both the sustaining grace that comes through the public worship of God as well as that which comes to us when we meet with Him individually.

I don’t want to minimize the role of the church in preventing spiritual shipwreck in the life of the believer. In this piece, however, I am writing to warn those who will increasingly be tempted to think that frequently meeting God with others can compensate for seldom meeting with Him alone.

There are seasons of life when our devotional habits may be providentially altered. But the general rule is that those reconciled to God through the cross of His Son need conscious, personal communion with Him every day until the day they see Him face to face. And the ordinary means by which He gives it is through the personal spiritual disciplines found in Scripture, chief of which are the intake of the Word of God and prayer.

Pursue the Lord with a relentless, lifelong, obstacle-defying passion. Resolve never let your daily life keep you from Jesus daily.

Donald S. Whitney is Professor of Biblical Spirituality and Associate Dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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