A Man Like Caleb – (Men’s Ministry Kickoff Talk)

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Life is a Battlefield

We’ve all felt it. We all experience it. Life sometimes seems like a war. We are in a daily battle for our family’s security, our personal purity, our relationship with God, our attitudes, our church and the spread of the gospel. God has specially charged men with the responsibility to bear the burden of stepping into the fray for the sake of others – particularly their wives, children and church. In order to win these battles, we need to be close to God (from whom we get understanding and strength) and in the company of other men (from whom we gain support and accountability).

One reason that we started this men’s ministry (PK@BBC) is because we have noticed that too many men are trying to fight the battle on their own and with the wrong equipment – us included. Most men don’t know their Bibles well, so they fall for the lies that Satan is telling them. They don’t know how to pray, so they lack spiritual strength and wisdom to answer the many demands that are placed on them. They are addicted to money and sex, so they live in a constant state of fear and shame. And many are locked in a state of perpetual adolescence, lacking the courage, conviction, and resolve that it takes to be a real man. Our churches are predominately female, run and attended by mostly women.

We want  our men’s group to change that. We’ve seen the battles, and we’ve experienced them. It seems to us that the best way we can fight against what this world is trying to turn us into (which is weak, useless, immature, immoral, cowards) is to have a company of good men surrounding us, supporting us, and holding us to the standard for which we fight. Men who will consistently remind each other about the grace of God, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the provision of the Holy Spirit. Without other men we are lone soldiers, and we won’t last long in battle.  PK@BBC intends to answer this need. We want to be a body of troops, a group of soldiers, a brotherhood of men. As Promise Keepers is so fond of saying, we want to be a group where “no man is left behind.”

Caleb

This week I was reminded, and inspired, by the story of Caleb, from Numbers 14. The way he is described in the bible is the kind of man I want to be – and the kind of men I want around me. You likely know the story.

“When the Hebrews came to the outskirts of Canaan, the land they believed had been promised them by God, after having fled slavery in Egypt, Moses sent twelve scouts into Canaan to report on what was there–one spy representing each of the twelve tribes. Ten of the scouts returned to say that the land would be impossible to claim, and that giants lived there who would crush the Hebrew army. Only two, Joshua and Caleb, returned and said that God would be able to deliver Canaan into the hands of the Hebrew nation. The Bible records that, because of the testimony of the ten scouts, the Hebrews chose not to enter Canaan [and take the Promised Land]: for this disobedience, God caused them to wander in the desert for forty years before being allowed to enter Canaan and conquer it as their home. It is said that the only adult Hebrews allowed to survive these forty years and enter Canaan were Joshua and Caleb, as a reward for their faith in God.” (Source)

After almost the whole nation had refused to take the Promised Land, even saying that they would rather stone Moses and Aaron to death and then go back to Egypt and be slaves rather than obey God and cross into the Land, God says this:

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.'” (Numbers 14:11-12)

God seems ready to destroy them and start over, until Moses intercedes in prayer and talks to God on behalf of the Israelites. And then, in Numbers 14:20-24, God says this:

“The Lord replied, ‘I have forgiven them, as you asked. Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times—not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.”

I want us to be men like Caleb. We are men who serve under the Commander of the Angel Armies, Jesus Christ, and we have been commissioned as soldiers of His kingdom. We are surrounded by cowards and weaklings who have no spiritual fortitude. They are too scared and weak to do battle for their souls, families and churches. They want to be enslaved by sin rather than fight for purity. They would trade the Promised Land for Egypt. I don’t want to be like them. I want to be like Caleb. Let me take apart how Caleb is described.

A Different Spirit

It says he had: “a different spirit” – I want to be different than the ungodly, cowardly men around me – both in the church and in the world. I don’t want to see the giants that we have face in this world (you know what your giants are) and walk away defeated, without even trying to fight. I don’t want to turn tail because I don’t have faith in God to see me though.

I want us to be men who know that listening to God and obeying the Bible will set us apart from the rest of the world – and trust God when He says that we can face these giants and defeat them in His name. The 10 other men who went into explore the land had no confidence in God or themselves. They spread the message of hopelessness and cowardice. Caleb believed… and he set himself apart by saying so. I want us to be like Caleb, who is like Jesus, and follow God’s standard, living differently than the world.

A Whole Heart

It also says that Caleb “follows me wholeheartedly” – I know that none of us follow Jesus like we should. We all sin. But what I want – and what I believe all Christian men want – is to say that despite all the ways we mess up, that we are sold out to Jesus. We don’t want divided hearts, but whole-hearts.

I want to be surrounded by men who are willing to pour themselves into the battle for their lives, families, purity and God’s Kingdom. We are all sick of being around men who can’t be counted on, who stand for nothing, who waffle back and forth never taking a stand, who lack courage and conviction, and who are so distracted by the world that they are no good to anyone. And we don’t want to be that kind of man. Caleb was 85 years old when he said in Joshua 14:11, “I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.” I want to be like that! A wholehearted, sold-out, warrior for God.

A Dependant Man

Because of Caleb’s faithfulness God promised saying, “I will bring him into the land he went to.” Even though we sometimes struggle to be faithful to God, we know that He is always faithful to us. The Bible says that when we are faithless, He is still faithful. Even when we don’t keep our promises, God does.

I want to be a man who believes in the faithfulness of God and knows that I can’t conquer the enemy on my own. And I want to be around men who are dependent on God. Too many of us try to fight by ourselves.

  • We tried to conquer lust and porn – but it still draws us in.
  • We’ve tried to change our schedule so we have more time with God and our family – but we keep getting sucked back into work.
  • We’ve tried to get excited about reading our bible and praying – but it’s still boring and difficult.
  • We’ve tried to come to church to worship and learn – but we are still distracted and frustrated.
  • We’ve tried to be the husband that our wife needs – but no matter what we do it still feels the same.

Something inside of us cries out for change, but every time we try, we are defeated and slip back into the old ways. Which makes us want to stop trying.

We have to realize that it is not we who will bring ourselves into the land, but God. It’s not our power, but His. What’s amazing is that God will often show His power by using the men around us. We need to be dependent on God, but we also need each other – it’s built into humanity to need other people. Jesus Christ will never let us down, will always lead well, and will give us every resource to win every battle, if we ask Him, follow him and trust Him. Sometimes God will miraculously change the circumstances to save us. Most often he will change our hearts so that we grow into stronger people because of the problems. And sometimes He will answer our prayers by using others to minister to us – and in the same way – he will use us to answer the prayers of others.

Whatever He does, the absolute truth is that I can’t win the battles or bring myself into the land – He has to do it His way and in His time.

A Future Sight

And here’s something powerful to me. The promise wasn’t just for Caleb, but God say “and his descendants will inherit it.”

We are not an island. Yes, we have our own individual battles, and they are of critical importance – but the fight we fight today isn’t just for us. Whether we have kids or not, we are also fighting for the next generation of believers. We are creating a spiritual inheritance for our children and the believers around us.

We want to be men they can look up to, so when they do, we can point them to Jesus. We want to be men who hand down a life of faith that isn’t full of holes, and that we can be proud of, because we are living like Jesus.

Most of us have scars from the poor heritage we inherited from our own earthly fathers. Some were absent, others angry, and others were addicts. Most fathers don’t pass along any kind of spiritual inheritance to their children – and we don’t want to be like that. Whether it’s next generation of our own family or to the men and women that we are actively mentoring at work or at church, we don’t want our descendants to be lost. We want to fight the battles, take the land, and hopefully win them a time of peace. Let ours be the body that is scarred in battle so they can inherit the land. Or, if they are not to have peace, then we want to be the kind of men who train our spiritual children to be good warriors of God.

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