2020-05-15
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God’s love is not some theoretical, million-miles-away kind of love. It is up in our business. It is raw and fierce and tender and full of joy. “His desire for you and me can best be described as a furious longing,” wrote that warmhearted, clear-sighted Franciscan Brennan Manning.

God’s love burns bright and hot and true. It will never dim. Not ever. Not even a little.

He is consumed; He can’t take his eyes off us (Ps. 34:15). He thinks about us all the time. Not for a second has He ever forgotten even one of us (Isa. 49:16). There are so many thoughts about each of us in His head they can’t be counted (Ps. 40:5). His love for you, for me, is so great that it’s literally immeasurable and unfathomable by our human minds (Eph. 3:17–19).

He truly is our Father (Eph. 1:5; 1 John 3:1). And while we often think what we need is a rescue, a way out, our prayers answered, our circumstances changed, what we really need is something infinitely bigger. What we really need is our proud, crazy-in-love heavenly Father himself.

Getting to know Him, coming to experience Him in our everyday lives, beginning to accept His furious love—it’s the most important thing in our lives. It’s the ball game. But it’s also probably the thing most neglected by modern Christian men.

So, here are four ways you can encounter His love today:

Worship

When we struggle to accept His mercy and love, instead of trying to will ourselves to accept them (because that’s hard), it’s often easier to flip things. When we engage in the practical act of loving Him—like worshipping, for example—we open ourselves to receive His love for us. Instead of trying to bend our minds toward a theoretical acceptance of His love, we just let Him love us. And He’s really good at that.

So, find a space and a time when you won’t be interrupted. Your office. Your bedroom. Your car, maybe. And spend thirty minutes or so playing your favorite worship music, listening to the lyrics—and singing them if you’re willing. There’s nothing quite like hearing your own voice in praise.

Scripture

We must read Scripture. God chose those words for you and for me (Rom. 15:4). He chose those words, carefully, so we could read them. And He designed us to need to read them. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).

Figuring out how can be a problem. But it’s a problem we should approach with excitement and intentionality and optimism, not with guilt or reluctance or resignation. It’s a problem we should approach with creativity, recognizing our unique designs and identities, our unique preferences and tendencies—for the solutions to the problem are as unique and varied as we are.

Don’t know where to start? Try one of the many reading plans available on the free mobile Bible apps out there. Can’t find time? Try listening to one of the several audio-enabled Bible apps. Struggle with consistency or motivation? Try a daily reminder on your phone or the tracking and/or group accountability features on the various mobile Bible apps. Don’t like archaic language? Try The Message version. Can’t remember what you’ve read? Try a free Bible memorization app. Struggling with something else? Well, work those God-given problem-solving skills to forge your own solution. And then, execute it.

Solitude

Why are modern men so bad at solitude? Our king did it quite well. As a man, Jesus knew His limitations. He understood His need to connect with his father—to His guidance and power. He knew how good that connection was. He wants us to know too.

So, if it’s so good, why do we struggle? Well, it’s a little because we’re busy. Solitude is hard when you’re working and/or married and/or have kids and/or have friends. And, it’s a little because we’re not well practiced. Our culture trains us for motion and multitasking—not for slowing and simplifying. And it’s a little because, deep down, we know solitude means confrontation. You see, solitude removes distractions and leaves us, for a few minutes, alone with God.

Solitude is sometimes defined as being alone, but we aren’t. The Spirit dwells within us (1 Corinthians 3:16). God’s right there. And we never know what might happen when we’re alone with God. But if we avoid this kind of confrontation, we’ll miss His companionship, counsel, comfort, restoration, and rescue. So, we must take courage. We must not worry that we don’t yet do it well. And, we must make solitude a priority—as Jesus did.

Start small. Find something that works. Turn off devices and take a walk—at lunchtime or during a break. Get some air in your neighborhood after dinner. Slip outside just before bed and sit quietly in the dark. You might very well find that these become your favorite moments of your days.

Community

We men often find it hard to gather in Christian community. Calendars are full: “I just don’t have time for one more thing.” Pride is high: “I’m good . . . I’m doing fine on my own.” Aversion to vulnerability is strong: “Oh, man . . . I’m just not that good at opening up.” If we are followers of our King, Jesus Christ, though, we must gather—“not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some” (Hebrews 10:25).

But . . . why? Why is community so important? Well, a couple reasons. “Two are better than one,” Scripture tells us—we are stronger, less vulnerable, together (Ecclesiastes 4:9).

For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up. (Ecclesiastes 4:10).

Even more important, though, Jesus tells us that He is uniquely present when we gather in his name (Matthew 18:20). Recall, God dwells within each follower of Jesus. (John 14:17) Therefore, when we gather, the power of the Spirit flows from one to another and back. When we gather, the work of God is done: confessions are made; sins are repented; love and compassion are expressed; hearts are healed; encouragement is given; lives are transformed. Men are lifted up, up out of sin and rebellion, into life and identity and calling. Work is done that just cannot be done in isolation.

So, reach out to someone—even if it must be over Zoom or FaceTime. Start meeting on a regular basis, weekly is best. Fight for community—against calendars, against pride, against fear. King David sang: “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1-3).

Remember, God knows you’re busy. He sees you right now—the work, the obligations, the distractions. And He’s calling you to Himself still. He knows what He’s doing. So, go to Him. Choose one of the suggestions above and encounter Him today.

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