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The Great Commission as the Mission of a Man (Men, Avoiding the AWOL Life)

I want to offer a series of posts over the next week or so about the dangers of men living an AWOL life and how they may recover a sense of meaning and fulfillment in the Jesus' Great Commission as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20.  For sake of brevity I will need to chop them into smaller portions.  I hope you take the time to follow along.  (this is part 4)
In this command (Matt. 28:18-20) is a mission that will give a man purpose and keep him from living an AWOL life.  How does a man avoid going AWOL?
  1. He must surrender all.  (All authority)
  2. He must challenge his comfort zones and expand his sphere of influence. (All nations)
  3. He must commit to radical obedience.  (All I have commanded you)
  4. He must practice the constant presence of Christ.  (With you always)
You may object in thinking that the whole thing sounds too “churchy”, as if the only way a man can live a fulfilling life is to become a preacher.  I am a preacher and I can testify to you; there are other ways!
The key to understanding what the Great Commission has in it for men is in the “going.”  When Jesus said “Go” He didn’t necessarily mean to leave what you’re doing, although that may be the case for some.  What Jesus meant instead is to “go” do what you are doing, but do it under His command; as an expression of the mission.  The sense of the word is, “As you are going.”  As you are working, fathering, voting, eating, driving, shopping, building, bowling, fishing, hunting, flying, helping, . . . go now through life with a purpose on a mission that can give you a definite sense of fulfillment.  
But before we expand on this idea there is another pertinent question.  Why did this one statement of Jesus make such an incredible impact on these 12?  Why were they so willing to risk all for all?  What had they heard or found in the teachings of Christ that suddenly made them so ready to go?  The key, again, is in the command.
Jesus commissioned His disciples to Go and teach the nations, “all I have commanded you.”  In the context of Matthew, I believe the commands point to five major teaching passages Matthew selects to be the framework of his book about Jesus.  Each teaching covers a topic that is critical for any person, but especially for men who desire to be disciples of Christ.  Here is a rough outline of these teachings:
Matthew 5-7 - Character
Attitude - foundational dispositions of the disciple’s soul.
Transparency - living a life that inspires others.
Purity/Hidden Sins - living a life that has no secrets.
Hypocrisy - living a life that is honest before others.
Spiritual Disciplines - learning to feed the soul.
Conversion - making the most critical choice of all.
Matthew 10 - Calling
Authority - how to keep oneself from becoming spiritually anemic.
Courage - facing opposition.
Commission - a mandate for the mission.
Matthew 13 - Kingdom
Christ stories - Simple stories that help us grasp the deeper truth of how the Kingdom of God works in the current culture.
Matthew 18 - Community
How do we confront one another?
How do we contend for what is right without destroying one another?
How do we forgive one another?
How do we restore a fallen brother?
Matthew 24-25 - Coming
Perspectives on suffering.
The end time agenda.
The danger of apostasy.
The nature of the judgment.
Being well versed in the teachings of Christ, once the disciples received the command they immediately engaged in the mission.  Going AWOL wasn’t even a consideration.  The only way a man can live a fulfilled life is for him to higher than himself sense of what it is he is supposed to do with the life he has.  A man needs to know what it is that he was born to do.  These men who followed Jesus knew their destiny.  As a man, do you have a strong sense, a sense that is higher than yourself, of what it is you are supposed to do?  You can.
They had a high sense of expectation and understood the measure of accomplishment.  They knew how to be rewarded and they knew the danger of losing their reward.  As a man do you have a strong sense of what constitutes failure and what constitutes success?  Do you have a strong grasp on what leads to waste and what leads to eternal reward?  You can.
They key to avoiding an AWOL existence is simple.  Take command.  When we take the commands of Christ and apply them to our “going,” suddenly everything about us is seen through a different lens.  Some things that we gave so much of ourselves to, that ultimately lead us nowhere, will become of little importance.  And they should.  New things, that we have never given much of ourselves to, will begin to take precedent.  And they should.  Knowing what really matters is foundational to being a fulfilled man.
Avoid living an AWOL existence.  Follow the command of Christ.
Continued next week . . .

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Living Fulfilled (Men, Avoiding the AWOL Life)

I want to offer a series of posts over the next week or so about the dangers of men living an AWOL life and how they may recover a sense of meaning and fulfillment in the Jesus' Great Commission as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20.  For sake of brevity I will need to chop them into smaller portions.  I hope you take the time to follow along.  (this is part 3)


How did Paul go from AWOL to living a life with a clear sense of purpose and a measurable sense of accomplishment?
Paul found his meaning in the same place that 12 other men found meaning.  Yes, the simple Sunday School answer here is “Jesus”, but allow me to take it a step further.  Paul and the apostles found meaning in Jesus’ command.  “All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).”  If a man is to have a mission, he must be able to take orders.  How does a man avoid living an AWOL life?  He obeys the command and engages in the mission.
The 12 men to whom I refer are the apostles.  11 of them Jesus called early in His ministry.  One was added just before Pentecost.  Paul was added later (1 Cor. 15:8).  However they are numbered, the result of their lives is unquestioned.  They turned the world upside down for Jesus Christ (Acts 17:6).  These men went from being fishermen, tax collectors and in Paul’s case a spiritual terrorist to making what is arguably the greatest contribution to human history in the birth of the church.  Because of them, the gospel has gone global.  Why the change?  It can all be traced to the command that was given to them.  They did what Jesus said for them to do.
The command is all encompassing.  “ALL AUTHORITY in Heaven and on earth has been giving to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of ALL NATIONS, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe ALL THAT I HAVE COMMANDED YOU.  And behold, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, to the end of the age (Matt. 28:18-20).”
In this command is a mission that will give a man purpose and keep him from living an AWOL life.  How does a man avoid going AWOL?
  1. He must surrender all.  (All authority)
  2. He must challenge his comfort zones and expand his sphere of influence. (All nations)
  3. He must commit to radical obedience.  (All I have commanded you)
  4. He must practice the constant presence of Christ.  (With you always)
More to come . . .
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Men Without Mission (Men, Avoiding the AWOL Life)

I want to offer a series of posts over the next week or so about the dangers of men living an AWOL life and how they may recover a sense of meaning and fulfillment in the Jesus' Great Commission as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20.  For sake of brevity I will need to chop them into smaller portions.  I hope you take the time to follow along.  (this is part 2)


As I stated before, fewer and fewer men are attending church.  I would also argue, that for the men that do, fewer of them actually embrace what is going on in the church.  What’s the problem?
Men are mission oriented.  A man without a mission is a man who will waste his life.  He has no directive, no purpose, no goal, and no measure of accomplishment.  But is it even possible for a man to assess himself as he is, in his current station in life, and to answer with confidence, “So far, have I done what I was born to do?”  What’s a man’s mission anyway?
In 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul writes to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  Paul, as a man, expressed not only confidence, but a total sense of accomplishment.  “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day (2 Tim. 4:8a).”  Paul goes further.  He invites others into the same experience, “And not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing (2 Tim. 4:8b).”  
Indeed Paul’s principle of the living a fulfilled life is not gender exclusive.  Women should avoid living an AWOL life as well as men.  I am not intending to exclude the women in the sense of suggesting that God has nothing for them, my intent here is merely to address the men.  For men a sense of mission is critical.  If a man loses his mission, he loses his sense of manhood. Paul was a man with a mission who went from an AWOL existence to living a life full of meaning, purpose, and a great sense of accomplishment as he looked forward to his reward.  
How did Paul go from AWOL to living a life with a clear sense of purpose and a measurable sense of accomplishment?
More to come . . .
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Where Have All the Men Gone (Men, Avoiding the AWOL Life)

I want to offer a series of posts over the next week or so about the dangers of men living an AWOL life and how they may recover a sense of meaning and fulfillment in the Jesus' Great Commission as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20.  For sake of brevity I will need to chop them into smaller portions.  I hope you take the time to follow along.


The term AWOL is a military acronym that means Absent Without Leave.  It describes a soldier who has failed to report for duty.  A soldier who is AWOL stands in blatant disobedience to his orders.  By his absence he stands in rebellion against authority.
Whether out of intentionality or ignorance, more and more men are going AWOL in every venue of life.  One of the most common examples of men going AWOL expresses itself in the family.  Men are not only leaving marriage but they are failing to take responsibility as fathers.  Even if a man has not physically abandoned his family, many men spiritually and emotionally check out of their home.  There is a man in the house, but no man of the house.  
A simple statistical search reveals that the AWOL issue for men has become epidemic.  Fewer men are working.  Fewer men are attending church.  In civic life in general, fewer men of integrity are taking responsibility to serve and to lead.  In the United States fewer men than women volunteer their time.  Each year fewer and fewer men are going to college.  From community to education, men are going AWOL.  Simply Google the phrase “Fewer men are _________” and you’ll see what I mean.   
Where have all the men gone?   
While some may simply account for this cultural disparity as the gains women have made in the same social venues, the danger here is exposed when we flip the question.  If men are doing less; what is it then that men are doing more?  Men are giving a ridiculous amount of time to video games.  More men are living single.  Men are becoming more violent.  Men are spending more time in prison.  More men are suffering from addiction.  More men are committing suicide.  Men are becoming more gender confused. 
Men are in great danger. 
So men are becoming more of a societal burden rather than societal builders.  Why?  What’s behind the change?  A purely secular argument of the reasons that may account for the fall of man could point a finger at a myriad of causes that would only engender more arguments.  Most of them are arguments that are warranted in the public square.  Here’s my take.  There is no longer a strong sense of gender, authority, meaning, or need for men.  Over the past thirty years the leadership responsibilities of men have been critically challenged and we now live in a society that is simply asking, “Who needs a man?”
I may not be an expert to offer the answers to what is happening in society at large, but I can sympathize with how men are feeling - wasted.  Yet, what we see happening in society at large is also influencing the behavior of men in the church.  To this, I can speak.  Of all men, Christian men have greater reasons not to go AWOL.
To be continued. . .
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