Sunday, June 22, 2014

What I Learned Today - The World Cup

So today I was just kind of surfing the internet at random because I was bored. After spending some time looking at how to replace a refrigerator door gasket, I suddenly realized that I was curious about the FIFA World Cup tournament that is being played right now. I’ve never had any interest in soccer at all so this surprised me a little, and I feel no urge to watch a game, but I decided that I wanted to find out how the tournament was played out.

The first thing I learned is that the World Cup Finals are only held every four years, like the Olympics. There are more than 200 soccer teams around the world, one for almost every country in the world, and they spend three years qualifying to play for the coveted World Cup. Out of those 200+ teams, only 32 get to play for the cup. In a highly publicized event, sort of like the NFL draft I take it, the announcements are made as to which teams will be included in the tournament and how the teams will be grouped. The announcements for this summer’s tournament were made last December.

The 32 best teams from around the world are put together into 8 groups of 4 teams. The groups are not random but are actually selected in order to put teams together that will be similarly matched in order to make for more exciting groupings. Of course it’s never possible to get everyone matched up equally and there always ends up being one group that they call the “group of death”, a group where a weaker team gets matched up with very good teams.

So the tournament goes like this: it began on June 12 and for two weeks the four teams in each group play each other in round-robin style, that is each team plays each of the other teams one time. Goals don’t matter, only wins. A win earns a team three points, a tie earns one point, and a loss earns no points. At the end of this period, the two teams from each group that earned the most points advance to the final tournament. If there’s a tie then goals are counted as a tie-breaker. The sixteen teams in the final tournament play in a standard single-elimination bracket until the last two teams standing play for the world championship.

The USA team is playing for the cup this year, which is apparently not uncommon although they have never won a final, and wouldn’t you know it they ended up in the “group of death” being matched up with Germany, Portugal, and Ghana, all of which are supposed to be quite good. However, so far they have beaten Ghana by a score of 2-1 and a match between Germany and Portugal ended in a tie, which plays to USA’s advantage since those teams will only earn 1 point each for the tie. I am writing this on Sunday evening at not quite 6pm and right now the USA is playing Portugal. At halftime the score is 1-0 in favor of Portugal. If USA can somehow pull off a win in this match they will be in a good position to advance to the final tournament. Pretty exciting stuff huh? USA’s final match will be on Thursday the 26th against heavily favored Germany. Pretty exciting stuff huh?

So that’s what I learned today. Hope you learned something interesting as well!

P.S. It took me a long time to get this posted because our internet connection is really bad right now. I just saw that USA and Portugal ended in a tie 2-2, which leaves USA tied with Germany for the lead in their group.

Sources:
2014 World Cup Matchups
A 101 on Brazil '14: How does the World Cup work?
How the World Cup Works, for the Soccer Newbie
World Cup Draw: What You Need to Know

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Men's Fraternity Week 25

Men’s Fraternity
Week #25 – Letter of Honor/Tribute to Parents




Ephesians 6:2-3
“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

  • Honor means to prize, to fix a value upon.
  • Value means to place worth, importance and usefulness on them.

The action of showing value is appreciation and respect.

Proverbs 6:20
My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not your mother's teaching.

Proverbs 23:22
Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.

  • Placing a value on who they are, no matter what they might have done or did not do.

I. Two-fold promise that is affected by honoring parents.


  1. First Promise – It affects your relationship with the Lord. “That it may go well with you…”

  2. The actions you take toward your parents reflect your heart toward God.

    Matthew 15:3-6
    He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.

    For Jesus, doing what was wrong in dishonoring your parents could never be linked with what was right in God’s eyes.

  3. Second Promise – It affects your own life in a positive way.

Proverbs 16:24
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

Proverbs 17:22
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Results of dishonoring life with parents:

Proverbs 30:11-14
There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers. There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth. There are those—how lofty are their eyes, how high their eyelids lift! There are those whose teeth are swords, whose fangs are knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, the needy from among mankind.

II. Practical Tips to Bring Honor


  1. Meaningful touch
  2. Spoken words of gratitude
  3. Give them words of high value
  4. Give them a picture of a special future

When parents grow older, they want to know we love them much more than to receive what we can buy them. One parent put it this way: ”Give me a kiss and time for my birthday. That way I don’t have to dust it.”

Personal Application/Exercise

Take the time we have left and write a “I am thankful” letter to your parents by next week.

If your parents are deceased, write a “tribute letter”. When you have your children and grandchildren together read this to them and let them know the qualities you received from your parents.




Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Men's Fraternity Week 24

Men’s Fraternity
Week #24 – Blessing Letter to Children/Siblings


Introduction: Letter Accountability

  • How did you present your letter from last week?
  • What kind of reaction did you receive?
  • If you did not deliver your letter, tell your group when you plan to deliver it and how you plan to deliver it.

Proverbs 3:27-28
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.

I. Family blessing hinges on 5 key elements.


  1. Meaningful touch

  2. Mark 10:13-16
    And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

  3. A spoken message
    • The misconception we have is that simply being present communicates blessing.
    • We need to be aware how powerful the absence of spoken words can be. (Most common phrase: “I’ll tell them tomorrow.”)
    Proverbs 18:21
    Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

    Proverbs 10:11
    The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

    Proverbs 10:31-32
    The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but the perverse tongue will be cut off. The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked, what is perverse.

  4. Attach high value to the one being blessed.
    • In the Hebrew the root meaning of blessing is to “bow the knee”.
    • It is important that you point out the qualities and character traits not the performance.
  5. Picture a special future for the one being blessed.
    • Words that picture a special future are like a campfire on a dark night.
    • In John 14:2-3 Jesus went to great lengths to assure the insecure disciples that they had a special future with Him.

    John 14:2-3
    In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

  6. Make an active commitment to fulfill the blessing.

  7. James 2:15-16
    If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?

    • Mere words of blessing are not enough
    • Follow through is key to conveying the truth of the blessing.

    Proverbs 22:6
    Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

    • The better we know the bent of our child and their unique set of needs the better we will be able to give them their own unique blessing.

Dealing with Children rejecting your godly legacy.


1 Corinthians 3:8
He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.

  • Parenting is about planting and watering.
  • Know your purpose and work together
  • Reward is based on the work done not based on who your children become.

The greatest legacy you can leave your kids is who you were as a Christ-follower. What your children do with who you were is their choice.

Personal application/exercise:

Take the time we have left and use the fill in the blanks and write your favorite memories of your oldest child or the one that may need this letter most at this time. If you have no children write it to your sibling, friend, or mentor in your life.

Sharing what you wrote: Share which person you wrote and three memories.

Deliver your letter by our next session!



Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Men's Fraternity Week 23

Men’s Fraternity
Week #23 – Practical Step of Manhood




Introduction:

Malachi 4:6
And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.

Four week focus:

To take action by leaving a godly legacy of faith, hope and love through the art of letter writing.

Our definition of the word “Blessing”: It is the unmerited, undeserved favor of God.

Four Biblical Principles Concerning the Blessings of God


2 Timothy 1:2-3
I am writing to Timothy, my dear son. May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace. Timothy, I thank God for you – the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.
  1. We are to ask for the blessings of God.
    1. His favor.
    2. His power.
    3. His protection.
  2. We are to recognize the blessings of God.
    1. Cultivate a thankful heart.
    Psalm 127:3 Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Proverbs 18:22 The man who finds a wife finds treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord. Proverbs 1:8-9 My son, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction. What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck.
  3. We are to receive the blessings of God.
  4. Three prerequisites to do this are:
    1. Fear and revere God.
    2. Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
    3. Trust God.
    4. Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.
    5. Obey God.
    6. 1 Peter 1:14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance
    • God wants us to give Him [trust Him with] our:
      • Time
      • Talent
      • Treasure [money]
  5. We are to give the blessings to others.
  6. Proverbs 11:25 Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

Exercise: 15 min.
Take the time we have left and use the fill in blanks and write why you are blessed to have your wife as your wife. If you are not married, write this letter to your oldest child, a sibling, mentor, teacher, pastor, etc…

”I am blessed because…

Sharing: 5 min.
I want each of you men to share 3 reasons why you are blessed to have your wife as your wife, or sibling, friend, etc…

Before next week

By next week I want you to set up a time with your wife or whoever you wrote the letter to. If you ave the courage, take that letter and read it out loud. Then pray a prayer of blessing over the moment. See what God does in that moment.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Men's Fraternity Week 22

Men’s Fraternity
Week #22 – Forgotten Discipline of Perseverance


Introduction


Reject Passivity

Accept Responsibility

Lead Courageously

Seek the Greater Reward – God’s Reward!

Hebrews 12:1-3
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

)

[from the video we learn the following: stay focused – don’t coast – finish the race]

Four Commands


  1. The First Command is to divest! Hebrews 12:1
    • Divest means to “remove from” or to “strip down.”
    • Sin clings closely because:
      • Denial - refusing to acknowledge the reality of the situation.
      • Projection - acknowledging the situation but denying responsibility for it.
      • Minimization - acknowledging the reality, even the responsibility, but denying the seriousness. “It’s not that big a deal.”
    • Sin will always:
      • take you further than you want to go
      • cost more than you want to pay
      • keep you longer than you want to stay

  2. The Second Command is to run! Hebrews 12:1
  3. [The command to run indicates that we must take action. Endurance is patient fortitude. Gut it out! Until there is action, there is no belief or conviction.]

    3 Levels of Belief
    • Public belief - What we want others to believe about our convictions.
    • Private belief - What we sincerely believe until we are tested. Then we give up.
    • Core belief - Beliefs backed up by reality, determined by your actions. They define how you live.

  4. The Third Command is to focus! Hebrews 12:2

  5. 2 Corinthians 5:17
    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

  6. The Fourth Command is to consider! Hebrews 12:3
    • Consider how Jesus lived.
    • Instead of asking “What would Jesus do?” ask “What DID Jesus do?” The bible is filled with specific examples
    • I look most like Jesus when I am falsely accused and say nothing.

”In God’s Garden of grace even broken trees bear fruit.” - Rick Warren

Discussion:

What sins easily cling or what are the weights in your life you feel you need to lay aside? Be ruthlessly honest. Why is it so hard to do this?

What does it mean to “fix our Eyes on Jesus”?

Review Hebrws 12:1-3 and discuss the responsibilities God gives you. Discuss every detail given about Christ.



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Men's Fraternity Week 21

Men’s Fraternity
Week #21 - Review


Introduction


1 Corinthians 16:13
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

Hebrews 2:1
Therefore we must pay closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.

Discussion:

When your alarm goes off in the morning do you immediately shut it off and get out of bed, or do you hit the snooze button? How many times do you hit the snooze button?

  • The effectiveness of the alarm is in direct correlation to how much you don’t want to hear it!
  • We are going to review the journey we have taken through the 33 Series and ask ourselves – Have I pushed the snooze button?

I. Man and His Design


  1. God’s call to Every Man!

  2. Philippians 2:5-8
    Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped, [Rejected Passivity] but emptied himself by taking form of servant, being born in likeness of men. [Accepted Responsibility] And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [Lead Courageously] Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name. Invest Eternally

  3. Four Faces of Manhood

  4. Acts 13:36
    For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep.

    • King - Righteous Energy
    • Proverbs 20:7
      The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him!
    • Warrior - Courageous Energy
    • 1 Corinthians 9:26-27
      So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
    • Lover - Relational Energy
    • 1 Thessalonians 2:7-9
      But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
    • Friend - Connecting Energy
    • Proverbs 17:17; 27:17
      A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

      Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
  5. Seasons

  6. Psalms 90:12
    So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

    Transitions between stages of Life.
    • Spring: 0-20 - Identity
    • Summer: 20’s-30’s - Learning and Growing
    • Fall: 40’s-60’s - Influence
    • Winter: 60’s-beyond - Sage

  7. Man and His Story

  8. Psalms 34:4, 6
    I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.

    Events and Experiences that have shaped your life!

    • Look back to make peace with your wounds.
      • Father wound
      • Mother wound
      • Loneliness wound
      • Heart wound
    • Dealing and Healing of Wounds.

  9. Man and His Traps

  10. Jeremiah 2:13
    for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.

    Looking deep into our heart idols in our lives and the traps we get entangled in.
    • Control idol
    • Significance idol
    • Comfort idol

  11. Answering the Alarm

  12. Ephesians 5:14-16
    Therefore it says, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

    The way we are designed by our Creator is that we are built to live for something greater than ourselves. We are wired to outlive our life!
    • Discover the Transcendent Cause – Reject passivity.
    • Leverage your influence now – Accept responsibility/Lead Courageously.
    • Invest for eternity - Make an eternal difference in the lives of those around you!

Discussion:

Why is it difficult for us to hear and respond to the early warning alarms God puts in our lives?

What alarms sounded off in your life through this series?

As we reviewed our 33 Journey of these past weeks, where have you seen yourself pressing the snooze in your life? What do you need to wake up instead of pressing snooze?



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Men's Fraternity Week 20

Men’s Fraternity
Week #20 Comfort




Introduction:

John 4:31-35
Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.

I. Deep Idol of Comfort


  • There is a hidden, yet sudden power in comfort!
  1. Comfort Idol yearns for privacy, making no demands and will only do for others if it brings stability or relieves stress.

    1. Selfishly introspective.
    2. Constantly noncommittal.
    3. Abhors anything impinging upon personl freedom.

  2. Greatest nightmare for those who worship comfort is spontaneity and demands.

II. Comfort Idol’s Traps


  1. The Fear of Responsibility.

    • Man hides from obligation, believing that real happiness is found apart from responsibility.

    2 Thessalonians 3:11
    For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busy bodies.

    [If we’re idle we begin to meddle, talking about how things could have been done better]

  2. Trap of Consumption

    • Preoccupation with consumption is a diversion, but it’s not a solution to the stressful messes around us.

    • Proverbs 25:27-28
      It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory. A man without self control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

      Deuteronomy 31:20
      For when I brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant.

    • If your “go-to” when times get hard and stressful is to consume, there’s a great chance that what is driving you is a deep comfort idol.

  3. Trap of Escapes

    • Rather than deal with the harshness of life or feel the pain that is part of life we create an alternate reality of escapes.

    2 Peter 2:20
    For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world, through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.

    • The real pleasure in life comes not in the pursuit of pleasure but in the fulfillment of responsibility.
    • Deep happiness and satisfaction is NOT actually found in pursuing freedom and escape, but it is actually found in the middle of walking with God in the midst of uncomfortable, challenging times.
    • ”Sin is what you do when you are not fully satisfied in God.” - John Piper

III. Replacing the Idol of COMFORT


1 Peter 5:6-7
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because he cares for you

  • ”Humble” - having a teachable spirit and attitude. That is our part!
  • ”Proper time He may exalt you” - God will lift us up in His proper time. That’s God’s part!
  • Cast anxious moments on Him - Run to God, not to your temporary comforts. That is our part!

1 Peter 5:8-9
Be sober-minded: be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

  • Sober-minded…watchful – We must be on high-alert against an enemy who is seeking to gain access to our lives.
  • Adversary - the devil functions like a prosecuting attorney in our mind bringing up our failures and messes creating fear.
  • Devour - means to drink or lick, the enemy wants to create fear in us so that we turn into a mess of liquid emotions.
  • Resist him - Stand! Keep your focus on Christ!
  • Brotherhood - the suffering you face, others are facing too! Best have each other’s back!

1 Peter 5:10
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

  • Suffering a little while - resilience in the midst of difficulty only lasts a little while. At the moment it feels like forever but compared to eternity it is a little while.
  • God’s Grace is sufficient - God is the ________ of all spiritual comfort and help for every ________.
  • Restore, confirm, strengthen, establish - That is God’s complete work in our lives.

If we are not fulfilled and secure in God, we will inevitably seek other sources of happiness and security.

Discussion:
Which traps are you most prone to find yourself in during stressful or difficult times: Fear of responsibility, trap of consumption, trap of escapism?

Sometimes we seek the idol of comfort because we lack overarching purpose in life or because of the pain of adversity. Do you agree? How have you seen this in your life?

In what sense can pleasure and comfort be an idol?

What is your “Comfort zone” that you struggle getting out of?

In Psalms 16:7-11, what is the Psalmist’s attitude towards pleasure?