LIVE IN
Men's blog

The Cost of Silence

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

This past week I was challenged by this question from a movie I watched: “Where are you men courage?” By nature I am a passive person, especially when it comes to speaking the truth to another person. Many times in my own life I have been silent and played along in the presence of injustice, offensive language or actions that I wanted to condemn. I have replayed these moments in my mind, wishing I would have spoken up, wishing I would have been light in the darkness.

Now, I know that I’m not the only person that has remained silent when a truth needed to be spoken. The Bible tells of a man who was silent when he should have spoken up. This man should have screamed as loud as he could, but he didn’t say anything. He stood by and watched in silence as his wife was being tempted (read Genesis 3). The Bible says that after Eve was deceived by Satan, she took some of the forbidden fruit and ate it. She also “gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it” (Genesis 3:6).

Adam was there the whole time, listening to every word, but he remained silent. Adam remained silent in the face of truth. You see, before God created Eve, He already commanded Adam to never eat the fruit from a certain tree. Yet as the serpent struck up a conversation with Eve, Adam stood in silence watching as Eve, his wife, stepped to the tree with the forbidden fruit, picked a piece and ate it. Why didn’t he stop her? Why didn’t he remind her of the command of God to not eat the fruit from that tree? Why didn’t he crush the serpent? He did none of these things. He stood there in silence, listening and watching. In that moment, Adam failed the woman he loved. In that moment, Adam failed to represent God. In that moment, Adam failed as a man. The silence of Adam is the beginning of every person’s failure to speak truth when it needs to be spoken.

So, let me ask you, “Where are you person of courage?” Where are you taking the path of silence in your life when you need to speak the truth? What is the cost of your silence? This is the question each of needs to answer, because there is a cost to our silence. When we are silent, relationships are damaged, marriages erode, and jobs are lost. When we choose to be silent, divisiveness and moral decline happen within our society. The cost of our silence could be somebody’s redemption and salvation. Are these cost worth our silence?

We don’t know why Adam failed and remained silent, but we can reflect on our lives and identify what keeps us silent. Perhaps it is fear or judgment. Maybe you like to be popular and to speak up will cause you to lose your standing with people. So, what is causing you to be silent when a truth needs to be spoken? Is your silence worth the cost?

This week, be courageous and speak the truth, but do it in love.

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

It Didn’t Feel A Lot Like Christmas

This morning I heard the song “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”. Although this Christmas season looked a lot like Christmas, it didn’t feel a lot like Christmas to me. I can’t pinpoint why this is the case. I read an advent devotional and two other books on the meaning of Christmas this holiday season. I told the Biblical account of the Christmas story many times and our small group did a study on the birth of Jesus; yet it still didn’t feel a lot like Christmas to me. Perhaps it’s because of the busyness of life right now. Maybe it’s because the Nebraska weather has been unseasonable warm. Perhaps it has to do with the anxiety and uncertainty of the new year. Or maybe, just maybe, my mind and heart were not focused on the season. Whatever the case, I was just going through the motions this Christmas season. It did not feel a lot like Christmas.

As, I heard the classic Christmas song mentioned above, I was reminded of the joy that surrounds the Christmas season for so many and my mind went to a verse I thought about and quoted to myself many times this Christmas season. “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people” (Luke 2: 10). What good news could you receive right now? Maybe you need good news from a doctor. Perhaps your good news needs to come from your spouse with a commitment of renewal for a broken marriage. Perhaps your good news is receiving a call from a potential employer saying, “We want you as part of our team.” Or you current employer tells you your job is safe. An answered prayer…that’s good news!

You see, we are all in need of good news. The good news that was given to the shepherds so long ago was Jesus – the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, and the Savior – was born. Friends, the good news about Jesus is that He comes to all people. Whoever you are, whatever you do, you can have Jesus in your life. You don’t need extraordinary qualifications; He accepts you as you are. That is really good news that brings great joy to us all.

It is this promise of good news and great joy that I lost this Christmas season, but in this moment what was lost is found. So, on December 31, 2016 it is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

Happy New Year to each of you and as you go into 2017 may you find rest, peace and joy that Jesus is Immanuel (God with us). No matter where you are, no matter your circumstance, God is with you and that, my friends, is really, really good news and a whole lot of great joy.

“Today I shall behave, as if this is the day I will be remembered.” Dr. Seuss

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

The Example of Mary

I have a tradition that I do during the Christmas season. I read a book or two or three about Christmas. This year I’m reading an Advent devotional titled God Is In The Manger written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Hidden Christmas by Timothy Keller, and Because of Bethlehem by Max Lucado. All are good reads and very insightful. In addition to reading books about Christmas, I also spend time during the Christmas season reading and reflecting on different Bible passages of the Christmas story.

This past week, I spent time reading the story about Mary (Luke 1:26-38) and was convicted by this passage in a way that I never have been before. I found myself wanting to have the faith of Mary. Here is his teenage girl who says yes to God in the most difficult of circumstances. To give birth to Jesus means she would be seen as the mother of an illegitimate child. The community would think that she either had sex with Joseph prior to being married or that she had an affair. She would have a life of disgrace or perhaps worse. In spite of how she would be viewed in society, Mary said yes.

Mary was troubled and she had doubt, but she still said yes. In fact, the statement she gave was a statement of obedience, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38). I don’t know about you, but when I’m faced with difficult circumstances or a challenging call from God my response to those things is often not one of obedience. In those difficult moments I don’t think I have ever humbled myself to being a servant of God. In fact, I treat Him more like He is my servant in the way I request or demand an easier path. Making God my servant doesn’t work out too well for me. How about you? Have you ever tried to make God your servant? How has that worked out for you?

Mary reminds me and reminds us that the journey of a Christian is surrender to the Lordship of Christ. When we are troubled, discouraged, and full of doubt our mantra must be, “I am the Lord’s servant.” When we face being ridiculed because of our faith in Him and obedience to Him, our response should be, “I am the Lord’s servant.”

So, where in your life do you need to surrender to him and say, “I am the Lord’s servant”?

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

The Hope in Waiting

Here is a simple truth for you…there is no joy in waiting. I was reminded of this truth today as I stood in line with half of Omaha trying to get the same bargain I was hoping for. After standing in line with two young children for what felt like an eternity (more like 5 minutes), I realized that no bargain is worth this wait. So I held my head up high and walked away.

There is no joy in waiting, but that’s what we do, we wait. We wait in lines, we wait on hold, we wait in traffic, we wait for the phone to ring, we wait to fall asleep, we wait for a diagnosis, and we wait for healing. What are you waiting for? Maybe you’re waiting for a loved one to return or perhaps you’re waiting for a prayer to be answered. We are all waiting for something: a solution, a deal to go through, a rescue.

This past Sunday (November 27th) marked the beginning of a time of waiting, a season we call Advent. It is when we remember and honor a time of waiting for the arrival of Jesus, the greatest gift ever given to the world. Jesus didn’t arrive without a wait. There were four hundred years of silence between the final prophecies spoken in Malachi and the birth of Jesus. Today, we struggle without an almost immediate response from God. Imagine going 400 years without hearing from Him. Where is God? Was He ever really there? Was my faith in Him a waste of time? Then suddenly “when the fullness of time had come, God sent for his son, born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4). This was it. The wait was over. Jesus was born and became God in human flesh.

It is easy to get caught up in the craziness of the Christmas season leaving us stressed, alone, anxious, joyless, hopeless, and without peace. It doesn’t have to be this way. I love what Henri Nouwen says about this season of waiting, “Waiting is a period of learning. The longer we wait, the more we hear about him for whom we are waiting.” You see, waiting is not wasted when we are waiting on Him.

So, whatever your need is, whatever you’re waiting for; remember that the Christmas season is more than just a season of waiting, it is also a season of hope. It is a season of hope because we know that that little baby born in a manger, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, is Immanuel – God with us!

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

Divine Distance

There is a truth about all of us and that truth is that we will wrestle at times with the absence of God, a divine distance if you will. As we have learned, the greatest promise of the Bible is that God is with us. Even in the most difficult moments of our lives, God promises, “I will be with you.” Yet even with this great promise from God, each of us will at one time or another struggle with the perceived absence of God’s comforting presence. The challenge for each of us is to find a way to hold on to God when we feel as if He has let go of us often causing us to fall into a painful disorientation of our faith leading to a perceived absence of God.

A disorientation of faith may come when someone has lost a job or experienced vocational failure. A disorientation of faith may happen when the word comes back from the doctor’s lab that the test was positive. A disorientation of faith comes when you feel you have failed as a parent. Or it arrives the day someone you loved with all your heart has died. You prayed; you hoped; you don’t understand.

Any of these events will cause us to question the presence of God. Church historian Martin Marty entered a dark time following the death of his wife, Elsa, from cancer. Disoriented by his loss, Marty lamented, “Why, O Absence, when the cry is most intense is the silence most stunning? The passionate heart searches for answers.” Similarly, C. S. Lewis wrote after the death of his wife, “Where is God?…Go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence.”

You see, the hardest part of divine distance is the aversion of God’s face, what feels like his absence, that is the greatest pain…“I cry to you for help, O Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you. Why, O Lord, do you reject me and hide your face me?” (Psalm 88:13-14). It was the cry of Job after he was stripped of his children, possessions and health, “Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy?” (Job 13:24).

Friends, there will be a time in your life that you will struggle with the absence of God in your life. This will likely be one of the darkest times of your life. When this does occur and you are experiencing a divine distance in your life, now this, you are in good company and you are not alone. As the psalmist wrote, “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalm 23)

You are not alone, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave your nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

“Today I shall behave, as if this is the day I will be remembered.” Dr. Seuss

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

The Struggle is Real

“Why LORD, do you stand far off?” Psalm 10:1

The absence of God in my life is a real struggle for me. I know in my heart that He isn’t far, but in the day to day struggles of life, I often feel a lack of His presence in my life, and this week has been no exception. It is nothing that God is doing to make me feel this way; it is what I do or don’t do that makes me feel that God is far off. Maybe it’s a particular sin in my life, or an anger in my spirit, or a lack of personal investment in my relationship with Him. All of these things can make the struggle real for me in my perception of God’s absence in my life.

Luke’s gospel tells a story that helps us identify the one obstacle that keeps us from being close with God – it is the story of Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42). Luke tells us that Martha was “distracted with much serving”. He doesn’t say that she was busy or overly committed, but that she was distracted. Now, to be distracted means to have your attention diverted and it is distraction that becomes our greatest obstacle in our closeness with God. So, what is distracting you from your relationship with God? Work? Family? Your addiction? Sin? Your health? Your smart phone?

The truth is that we all face distractions in our life and it is what we do during those distractions that matter. Later in the story of Martha and Mary, “…you are anxious and troubled about many things” (in other words you are distracted with many things) but one thing is necessary” (Luke 10:42-42). For Martha and for us, the one thing needed to help us understand the truth that God is never far off is to be with Jesus no matter what else is going on around us.

Jesus made God’s presence available to anyone who wants it. So, if distraction is our greatest obstacle in feeling God’s presence in our lives, then all we need to do is invite Jesus into whatever we are doing at that moment… “Jesus, in this moment, I invite you to be with me.” You see, we don’t need to stop what we’re doing to be with Jesus and feel close to God. We just need to invite Him to be with us.

“Lord, today I commit my day to your care.”

“Today I shall behave, as if this is the day I will be remembered.” Dr. Seuss

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

God is Close

“How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” – David

Have you ever spoken words like this? Maybe in the quietness of your spirit you cried out, “God, why are you hiding?” Or maybe during a gut-wrenching moment in your life, you wondered where God was and you shouted, “Why have you forgotten me?” I wonder, have you ever cried out to God like this? I have…more than once…and recently.

I think many people feel a perceived absence of God when their prayers aren’t being answered or there is a battle with some kind of health issue. I can certainly relate to both of these. I have prayers that haven’t been answered and after four years, I’m still battling a stomach issue that I haven’t been healed from. You see, unanswered prayers, health issues, not getting the desires of our heart, loss of a spouse, loss of a child, loss of a job, loss of any kind can make us think that God has abandoned us and He doesn’t care. In those moments we cry out, “Why LORD do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1)

Well, the truth is that God isn’t far off and He isn’t hiding from you. He is closer than you think. He hears our prayers and He hears our cries. In our darkest times, He is there. In the ordinariness of life, He is there. The story of the Bible isn’t primarily about the desire of people to be with God; it’s the desire of God to be with people. In fact, the greatest promise of the Bible isn’t “I will forgive you.” The greatest promise of the Bible is “I will be with you.” It is the reason for our courage, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). When Jesus was born, his name was Immanuel, which means God with us. God is closer than we think. When Jesus left this earth, he said “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

“God is determined that you should be in every respect his friend, his companion, his dwelling place” writes John Ortberg. In others words God is not hiding from you, He has not forgotten you, and He is not far way. God is close and his desire is to be with you. So, “The LORD be with you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-27)

“Today I shall behave, as if this is the day I will be remembered.” Dr. Seuss

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

You Have a Calling

Confession: There was a time in my life that my career was the most important thing to me. Climbing the corporate ladder, being respected in my work and earning a big pay check were the most important things to me. My prideful ambition blinded me to what really matters in life. Then I got a calling and that changed everything.

Many of you reading this have a career but do you have a calling? Now, here’s the thing about a career and a calling, and this comes from my own experience…a career is about advancing yourself and a calling is about serving God. I wonder, which one is more important to you? You see, your life is more than just being a C-Level Executive. It is more than working 60 hours a week to get a project done because you fear being viewed as less capable if you don’t complete the project before the deadline. Your life is about more than the number of people who work under you or the title printed on your business card. Your life is about your calling.

The Bible tells the story of a young Jewish girl named Esther who had a career as queen of Persia, but it turns out God had something way more important for her, she had a calling. A man named Haman was enraged when Esther’s cousin Mordecai refused to kneel down and pay honor to Haman. Instead of killing only Mordecai, Haman looked for a way to destroy all of Mordecai’s people, the Jews (Esther 3:5-6). Upon hearing this, Mordecai sent some of the most challenging statements to Queen Esther. “Do not think because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this” (Esther 4:12-14). Just like that, Esther had received her calling to be part of God’s plan to save His people.

You think you have an amazing career and the truth might be that you do have an amazing career. However, if you search the depths of your being, you will see that you have something more important than your career, you have a calling. Often we attempt to disqualify ourselves from our calling, we’re afraid, we’re prideful, or our success in our career is more important to us. So, don’t let your fear, pride, or success in your career blind you to what God says your life is really about.

“Today I shall behave, as if this is the day I will be remembered.” Dr. Seuss

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

Men’s Trip to Mali

Date: January 27 – Feb 5, 2017

Cost: $2,900

Need: 5 – 7 people

In partnership with the C&MA Malian church, CCC will send a team (MEN only) to inoculate cattle, goats, and sheep to remove Malian villages. This is used as a way to introduce remote Malians to local church Pastors.

This team will spend three full days inoculating up to 6,000 cattle, goats, and sheep by providing deworming medication. For Malian farmers their animals are often their most valuable investment and this act of love provides opportunity for a local Malian Pastor to share the gospel with hundreds of villagers who have not previously heard about Jesus.

This will be a trip only for men to provide a unique opportunity for men to grow together as disciples, led by Veterinarian and team leader Jerry Busselman.

All short-term mission teams receive training on items such as how to raise support, get passports, understand the culture, health precautions, foreign travel, and much more. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Eric Carpenter / (402) 938.1538 / ericc@cccomaha.org.

To apply for this team, please download the Short-term missions application: PDF or Word Document.

Men’s Book Study 2 Health

Join a men’s ten-week book study on understanding poverty in Village One.

Mondays/ 9-10:30 AM/ 6.27-9.5/ Starbucks at 114th and Dodge/ To learn more, contact Eric Carpenter/ eric@cccomaha.org/ 402.938.1538