Surf Report: A Recap of the Week of September 23

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Welcome to the Surf Report for the Week of September 23.

.: God:

God has been teaching me quite a bit when it comes to the Bible study I’ve been leading on Wednesday nights. He has been teaching me to remember:

  • Not everyone is a Christian AND not all Christians are at the same place in their walk with God.
  • To not take personally the people who choose to come and go. Attendance has been inconsistent/up and down.
  • To lead. That it doesn’t matter how much older the rest of the guys are, I’m there to facilitate discussion and lead the group.

I wrote a bit about some of our discussion this week in “How do you de-stress?” Also had a friend send me a link to a video that I found helpful in studying 1 John (which we’ve been going over on Wednesday nights).

.: Life:

This week I found out that there are Josh Groban fans. I learned that I should never talk bad about a character Josh Groban plays (especially on Twitter). Ah, the Internet. You can read my thoughts on Josh Groban’s new project in “Things to Avoid – The Good Cop“.

Also spent some time in a clinic last week, wrote about that experience in “Missing the Firetwuck“.

.: Gaming:

My week has been completely devoid of video games. But I did re-post a Tim Challies article from awhile back (“From Across the Net – ‘Christian Men and Their Video Games’“). His article reminded me of the Christian tension of being in the world but not of the world. Got me thinking of debates I’ve been a part of over the years. Debates on Christian liberty, discernment, and the almost Christian desire to have everything spelled out in black and white.

There are definitely games fellow believers shouldn’t touch. The Bible, the Holy Spirit, family and friends help us navigate what we should and should not consume.

Question of the Week: Do you think Fortnite’s timed cosmetic purchases are predatory towards young kids?

That’s it for this week. If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, don’t hesitate to post them in the comments below. Have a great weekend!

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How do you de-stress?

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Last night at Bible study, we got talking about how we individually de-stress. One of the guys shared that playing golf as well as retirement helps him to keep stress away. Another one of the guys shared that working with his hands through metal working projects works for him. I was then asked what I do to unwind. I froze up and found myself babbling something like this:

My wife has been trying to get me to exercise in order to de-stress. We’ve been walking. I also play video games. I used to play them a lot when we were first married. Probably played them too much. I now only play a few times a week, maybe one day a week. I like how they allow me to turn off my brain for awhile. I also like working in the yard.

One of the guys quickly piped up and said that exercise isn’t enough to de-stress for him. He went on to talk about that feeling of satisfaction that not only comes from working with your hands but completing a project. I could 100% relate to what he was saying. In my day job, finishing up a project is elusive. Oftentimes we are quickly shifting from one project to another within moments. The biggest thing I hear from my co-workers is that they just want to finish something, anything. I’ve learned to celebrate the small things I’m able to finish. But I’m steering us away from the topic at hand–my wife says I’m good at that–.

The art of letting off stress has always proven to be elusive to me. Sure, I’m getting better at handling stress, but I’m not all the way there. I’ve learned that being mindful that the stress is there and then DOING SOMETHING to help it seems to be key. DOING SOMETHING. Even if that is settling into a solid gameplay loop or taking a walk with your wife. I find that exercise and good conversation can often do wonders.

How do you de-stress?

Thinking About Church Masculinity

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Wednesday nights I teach a men’s Bible study. We have been going through the video series Men’s Fraternity. Now I’m not a fan of “rah-rah I’m a man” sort of things. Popular Christian author John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart caused me to shy away from hypermasculinity. As a guy who is not super physical, I’m just not into his gospel.

Erwin McManus wrote a short book called The Barbarian Way. This book helped begin the healing process from the damage Eldredge caused:

Somewhere along the way the movement of Jesus Christ became civilized as Christianity… We created a religion using the name of Jesus Christ and convinced ourselves that God’s optimal desire for our lives was to insulate us in a spiritual bubble where we risk nothing, sacrifice nothing, lose nothing, worry about nothing. I wonder how many of us have lost our barbarian way and have become embittered with God, confused in our faith because God doesn’t come through the way we think He should.

Donald Miller’s book Father Fiction also helped refine my thoughts on masculinity– you can read those here and here–. Miller concludes, in a humorous way, that men know that they are men by the way God designed them (anatomy). Most other Christian men’s books try and come up with some sort of vague definition on what being a man looks like. I find this confusing, not helpful, and destructive.

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Men’s Fraternity has been a good series so far. The content is relevant and applicable. But, I have disliked the format that the series forms.

Wednesday night looks like this:

  • We get together (many of the guys coming in late).
  • We have an hour and a half to watch the video and discuss.
  • We end up starting 30 minutes late due to the guys wanting to talk.
  • We start the video. The videos vary in length from 45 minutes to 50 minutes at max.
  • We Watch the video.
  • We then have 15-20 minutes to discuss.

I find it unnatural to walk into a room, sit down, and watch a video with a group of guys I haven’t talked with, at all. I have no clue how their week has gone, how they are doing on a personal level, etc. There is no chance to build relationships.

I am currently debating on whether to summarize the video’s material and then lead a more pointed discussion or even go back to our read a book of the Bible and have a discussion format. We’ll see what happens.

Morning Reading: Judges 17-21

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“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” – Judges 21:25

The last few chapters of the Book of Judges show the nation of Israel relying on instinct and their own personal morals rather than following God. Sin has heavily infected their worship and everyday life. The end of chapter 19 even has an incident that is similar to that of Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. Homosexuality and rape are a societal norm. Everyone did as he saw fit.

This mornings reading has me questioning if I am doing as I see fit; if I am walking alone in this world versus walking with God. This morning I have prayed that I would be obedient and follow God, not doing as I see fit but as He sees fit. Think of it as a realignment of the heart.

Where are you today?

Wednesday Night Bible Study Recap: Conduct

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Wednesday nights, I host a Bible study at my church. The study follows an open discussion format in which we read a chapter of the Bible every week. The insight, conversation, and fellowship with other Christians is what keeps me coming back week after week. I love how God uses something so simple to minister to both myself and others.

This week we were studying 1 Timothy 3 & 4. In 1 Timothy 3, Paul is giving Timothy instructions for how church leadership (overseers/pastors) and believers (deacons/servants) are to conduct themselves.

Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife,temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[a] respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

In the same way, deacons[b] are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

11 In the same way, the women[c] are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

Reasons for Paul’s Instructions

14 Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, 15 if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

1 Timothy 3:1-15 (NIV)

Reading this made me ask myself some questions:

  • How am I conducting myself on a daily basis?
  • Am I causing someone else to stumble due to my actions?

Conduct

I am sure that like me, you have encountered pastors/deacons/Christians who act one way in church and in a completely different manner outside of church. Sunday they are smiling away, gracious and kind; Monday they are screaming at their fellow man without any sort of control. Have you ever found yourself acting this way? I have. I am quite guilty of wearing the Christian mask at times. I hate it. I want to be open, honest, and real.

Moving Towards Christ

Paul concludes 1 Timothy 3 with verse 16:

16 Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:

He appeared in the flesh,
was vindicated by the Spirit,[d]
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory.

1 Timothy 3:16 (NIV)

As we move towards Christ, we become more like him. Not to somehow exalt ourselves but to exalt Christ. People are watching us as Christians. I want to encourage you to be an example as you go.

Living Life Grounded

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If you wanna steal my show, I’ll sit back and watch you go

If you got somethin’ to say, go on and take it away

Need you to steal my show, can’t wait to watch you go

So take it away – Steal My Show, Toby Mac

I drove to Bible study alone last night. My wife needed rest and my son hasn’t been feeling the best. As the two of them set to recuperate for the evening, I headed out to church to lead the Bible study I teach every Wednesday night.

With Lecrae’s “Gravity” album thumping in the background, I prayed that my teaching the study wouldn’t be all about me. I started to think about personal branding. How we are all out to promote ourselves in some way. Just look at social media and the constant noise some of us project. All of our social noise an effort to be heard above the rest, to be known in some shallow way.

As much as I want to carve my own personal story into this world, I ultimately want my life to be grounded upon God first. I want to serve Him and further His kingdom, no matter what that looks like (so I say now). If that means that I am to be a garbage collector or a serve as President of the United States, I want to be able to do so for His glory, not mine. I want God to be in control. This is not me forfeiting my own personal will but instead me submitting to a Holy and living God who is sovereign.

The seemingly random experiences that make up my life have taught me that God only wants the best for me. In the darkest places of my life God has always called me out to something better. He has always shown me a clear path to walk upon, no matter how much my heart craved that which was murky and dark. God’s will, as much as we fight it, is perfect. I want to live in that will; I want to live in a way that is pleasing to God.