Positive Pain

Steve Arterburn

Sometimes forgiveness involves pain. When we confront people regarding betrayal, abandonment, abuse, deception, or other offenses, we’ll likely experience sorrow. We need to accept this as part of the consequences of sin and learn to freely express it to God. He can transform the pain associated with wrongdoing and bring about good for everyone involved.

Remember men: not all sorrow is bad for you. The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Corinth that made them sad because he confronted them about wrongdoing. He initially regretted hurting them. But after reflection he wrote these words, which you can find in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10: ‘Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to have remorse and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed’in any way. For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation. We will never regret that kind of sorrow.’

The grief Paul described was good. It was caused by his love for others in action, and accessed in light of honest self-evaluation. Like Paul, we too must learn that sometimes sorrow is a positive part of our spiritual growth. So when you’re confronted with it, don’t run from it and don’t reject it. Enter into it asking God to use it to direct the course of your life along redemptive paths.

Cost Of Discipleship, Part One

Steve Arterburn

Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been widely recognized as one of the great moral heroes of the twentieth century, and rightly so. He was a highly regarded Lutheran minister at a time when other highly regarded Christian leaders’were compromising and making sure they didn’t make any waves against Hitler’s aggressive, tyrammical power. Bonhoeffer was among the few who resisted. And you know, resistance usually has its costs’Bonhoeffer’s cost everything. He was arrested, imprisoned, and eventually hung on April 9, 1945’less than a month before the war’s end.

 

Yet Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s resistance was more than moral, it was Christian. It was grounded, shaped, and energized by the gospel, and by Bonhoeffer’s loving loyalty to the Lord of that gospel: Jesus Christ.

 

Amidst the tumultuous times of his day, Bonhoeffer wrote a book that has since become a Christian classic. It’s called The Cost of Discipleship. In it he contrasts what he calls ‘cheap and costly grace.’ Cheap grace, for Bonhoeffer, means grace without the cross. Costly grace, by way of contrast, is a grace that comes to us freely because it cost Christ his life’and that which is costly to God must never be seen as something that comes to us without a price.

 

Bonhoeffer’s point, men, is that the gospel makes a claim upon every aspect of our lives. It’s received freely, yet demands sacrificial discipleship as our response.

 

Is your understanding of the gospel comparable to Bonhoeffer’s? If it isn’t, give it some thought.

The Four C’s

Steve Arterburn

A men’s small group is a great place for getting four things absolutely essential to your spiritual well being’things every bit as important as the vitamins and nutrients needed for physical health. The Four ‘Cs’: confession, consistency, caring, and completion. You’ll be spiritually malnourished without them.

 

Guys who meet frequently in a small group setting care about the spiritual welfare of their brothers. They feel safe to honestly talk about their struggles and challenges. Secrets aren’t allowed to fester and thrive. They lose their power as God’s word’and the encouragement of one another’are brought to bear upon them. And guys in a group watch one another’s backs.

 

Men who are connected to one another in small groups move toward spiritual maturity much more quickly than their brothers who remain in isolation. And they’re able not only to stay there more effectively, but to help others move forward as well. Instead of being spiritual castaways, God’s men have a supporting cast around them.

 

Many men are discovering the life-changing difference such relationships can make. They’re becoming close allies in the battle to help one another run the race of faith well, and press strongly toward the finish.

 

Brothers, there are few things in life more precious than Christ-centered friendships. Don’t be a spiritual castaway. Connect with your Christian brothers ‘ find a group ‘ start a group. You’ll be glad you did.