Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
eleven men walk into a ….
What do you get when a systems manager, a small-business owner, two scientists, an IBM executive, an insurance executive, a recently retired manager, an educator, an entrepreneur, a writer, and a horticulturalist sit around a table?
No, the answer is not, a Rotary Club meeting, nor is it politics and sports, or even too many “dad-jokes”! Instead – at least this has been true in my experience over many years – a table of eleven intelligent, accomplished, thoughtful men translates into a lively discussion about Jesus.
To me, this is what men’s ministry is all about. Not a large meeting featuring a prayer, a devotion, and a “program” (followed by essentially nothing for another month); but a weekly gathering where men study the scriptures, share openly, listen to one another, challenge one another, and pray together, encouraging one another in the faith.
Active engagement with Jesus?
This week we honed in on Jesus. “Who is Jesus?” And, most importantly, “Who is Jesus to you? – Who is Jesus to you, personally, in your day-to-day life and relationships?” Answers – testimonies – ran the gamut, from “light” to “guide” to “friend” to “teacher” to “savior” and more.
Too often we experience Jesus one-dimensionally, keeping him conveniently categorized, narrowly pigeonholed, and effectively on the shelf most of the time.
So I offered an exercise, a method for organizing and broadening our understanding – a kind of mnemonic device. Each letter – J.E.S.U.S. – stands for one (at least) defining characteristic of Jesus. I suggested the following list (bullets below), but the point is not to develop an orthodoxy based on my insight but explore our own relationship with Jesus and articulate it in a way that helps expand and broaden everyone’s engagement with Jesus as a living – functional – presence in our lives.
- J is for Jehovah: Jesus is God, all of the splendor and light of God’s majesty dwells in Jesus. “For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ” (Colossians 1:19).
- E is for Extravagant: Everything positive is amplified when Jesus is involved – extravagant love, extravagant grace, extravagant generosity….
- S is for Savior: Salvation is often misrepresented as “making sure we go to Heaven when we die”. Heaven is all well and good, but we have been invited to join God in an authentic relationship that is active and responsive and now, not passive and later.
- U is for Unsearchable: Trust in Jesus may not be beyond our experience but it is in many ways far beyond our understanding. That’s not only okay it also reminds us not to limit God based on our limited capacity to process.
- S is for Sufficient: Jesus us all we need. Whatever is troubling us or limiting us or hemming us in, Jesus is more than enough.
A practical homework assignment:
As a practical exercise, I had five wooden golf tees in my pocket, each one inscribed with a letter from the name Jesus.
“Each day this coming week,” I said, “take out one tee and read the letter.” I pulled out “S” – Jesus is my savior, Jesus is sufficient. “Transfer the tee to your other pocket. Then, throughout the day – probably when your hand feels the tee, or you sit on it – think about that particular quality of who Jesus is to you.”
It’s a simple discipline, designed to keep Jesus in the front of our consciousness and encourage us to live more intentionally as disciples.
But isn’t that the key to moving from being the member of a church to an active, deliberate, disciple of Jesus? Always on our minds, always at the foundation of everything we do.
Give it a try. I can promise you that such a way of living will revolutionize everything about your life – and in a good way!
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.