1 Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure. 2 But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. 3 For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. 4 They seem to live such painless lives; their bodies are so healthy and strong. 5 They don’t have troubles like other people; they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else. 6 They wear pride like a jeweled necklace and clothe themselves with cruelty. 7 These fat cats have everything their hearts could ever wish for! 8 They scoff and speak only evil; in their pride they seek to crush others. 9 They boast against the very heavens, and their words strut throughout the earth. 10 And so the people are dismayed and confused, drinking in all their words. 11 “What does God know?” they ask. “Does the Most High even know what’s happening?” 12 Look at these wicked people— enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.
13 Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? 14 I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain.
15 If I had really spoken this way to others, I would have been a traitor to your people. 16 So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! 17 Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked. 18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. 19 In an instant they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors. 20 When you arise, O Lord, you will laugh at their silly ideas as a person laughs at dreams in the morning.
21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. 22 I was so foolish and ignorant— I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. 23 Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. 26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.
27 Those who desert him will perish, for you destroy those who abandon you. 28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
2 On the day of Pentecost[a] all the believers were meeting together in one place. 2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages,[b] as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.
5 At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. 6 When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.
On April 17, 1521, Martin Luther faced the Diet (assembly) of the Holy Roman Empire in Worms, Germany. He had been severely critical of the pope, questioning the validity of some of the sacraments and denouncing church corruption. An archbishop was given the job of examining Luther and asked him, “Martin, how can you assume that you are the only one to understand the sense of Scripture? You have no right to call into question the most holy orthodox faith. I ask you, Martin, do you or do you not repudiate your books and the errors which they contain?” Luther responded:
“Unless I am convinced of error by the testimony of Scripture or by manifest reasoning, I stand convinced by the Scriptures to which I have appealed, and my conscience is taken captive by God’s word, I cannot and will not recant anything, for to act against our conscience is neither safe for us nor open to us. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”1
Author Eric Metaxas says,
“When Luther made it clear that he feared God’s judgment more than the judgment of the powerful figures in that room, he electrified the world. How dare anyone, much less a mere monk, imply there could be any difference between them? Since time immemorial, such men had spoken for God and the state. But Luther defied them, humbly but boldly, in a watershed moment in world history.”2
This April will mark the 500th year since Luther uttered those words, which labeled him a heretic and criminal. Yet myriads of people have since taken up the position Luther courageously defended, declaring “the Word of God the single source of doctrine and the only infallible guide to salvation.”3
IPHC Men’s Ministries’ theme this year derives from Luther’s words, “Here I Stand.” Our theme verse extols the courage Luther demonstrated in his historic stand. After declaring in eloquent terms, the resurrection of Christ, the Apostle Paul admonishes us in 1 Corinthians 15:58:
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”4
The great need of the 21st Century is men who will stand firm, “rejecting passivity, accepting responsibility, leading courageously, and expecting the greater reward, God’s reward.”5
The Apostle Paul admonishes us in 1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.”6 It is imperative men know what and why they believe. Today’s culture preaches relativism and intolerance for anyone suggesting there is an absolute authority governing the universe. It is counter-cultural to declare that certain things are true for everyone, that doctrine matters, and that God gave us a set of objective truths rooted in who He is and not what we think or have experienced. Everything else in our lives flows from what we believe. Therefore, the declaration from authentic godly men today must be no less decisive and firm as that of Luther and the Reformers: “Here I stand!” In 2021, Men’s Ministries will address no less than seven must-believes for men who sincerely desire deep roots grounded firmly in the faith.
Here I Stand…In The Fight
Ephesians 6:10-14a exhorts us:
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore . . .7
A godly man is someone who chooses not just to survive life based upon the world’s standards, merely hoping for something better to come along. Instead, a godly man decides to live a thriving life despite the circumstances around him. Often, men fail because they did not know, or understand, how to fight correctly. “The reality is a spiritual battle is raging all around you. A battle that men are constantly undermining, discounting, or even ignoring. Jesus tells us in John 10:10 that the devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He is actively attempting to thwart even your best-laid plans. And like Jesus, in Matthew 3, it is important you prepare yourself for the battle ahead.”8
Men’s Ministries will teach, train, and resource men in 2021 to not only show up for the battle but will equip men in how to fight the good fight of faith in the power of Jesus’ name and the strength of the Holy Spirit. “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”9
Here I Stand…In The Family
A real man engages the battle within and stands in the gap for his family, wife, children, and grandchildren. Too often, men end up fighting with their family rather than fighting for their family. Men’s Ministries, in collaboration with Discipleship Ministries, will seek to equip men to be warriors standing in the family, rather than wimps who abandon the family. A father-absent culture is pulling our society apart at the very core of its being, causing a fatherless epidemic. Hence, 2021 will offer resources focused on strengthening the bond between husband and wife, parent and child, and the family as a missional extension of the larger body of Christ.
Nehemiah, threatened by sinister forces of destruction, said:
“I placed armed guards behind the lowest parts of the wall in the exposed areas. I stationed the people to stand guard by families, armed with swords, spears, and bows. As I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!’”10
We will remind men our great and glorious God has made us “more than conquerors through Christ, who loved us” (Romans 8:37).11
Here I Stand!
“Here I Stand” is a clarion call to stand firm in the faith, in the fight, and in the family. It is not a call to isolation as a lone ranger going it alone. Instead, it is a call to stand in solidarity with a band of brothers whose hearts God has touched (1 Samuel 10:26).
“Stand up, stand up, for Jesus, Ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner, It must not suffer loss:
From victory unto victory, His army shall He lead,
Till every foe is vanquished, And Christ is Lord indeed.”12