26 Young Men

I was with 26 young men this past weekend in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin for The Emerge Conference. It was a conference that we created for the purpose of helping high school guys understand God’s unique purpose for men.

What an incredible weekend! We spent time discussing the church, it’s relevancy for today, the unique challenges that men face, and spiritual leadership. I was encouraged as these guys talked about their passion to be a part of God’s redemptive work on planet earth.

There are several humorous moments that occur on a weekend retreat where there are no women around, and guys are free to just be guys.

Here are a few of them:

1) I have never smelled a worse smelling vehicle than our bus. A pungent odor was with us the entire weekend. It was our constant companion.

2) Guys who can hold their bladders for countless hours when women are around become wusses when no women are around. Just when one guy was feeling great, another would have to use the facilities.

3) Belching is expected, and sometimes confused as a spiritual gift.

4) Guys can flat out eat. $75 worth of junk food can evaporate in a matter of minutes.

5) Guys will still spend $5 to make back .50 in the quarter game that I used to play at county fairs as a little kid.

All The Time

When I lived in the South, pastors would often march up to the pulpit and pronounce, “GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME AND ALL THE TIME . . .”

Then with a gleam in their eyes they would look at the congregation and await their response. The congregation would respond, “GOD IS GOOD!”

As hokey as the ritual was, it was true. God is good, all the time.

All the time.

Recently, I have had several students question God’s goodness with me. The questions have ranged from, “If God is so good, then why do bad things happen to good people?” to “I just don’t get God. Why did he let this or that tragedy happen?” to “I don’t feel like God has been good in my life.”

Life is hard. There are difficult things that we will face throughout our lives. But, God’s goodness does not depend upon our circumstances. Good is a descriptor of God. It’s one of the reasons that we have to thank Him. 1 Chronicles 16:34 says, “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.”

Sometimes we need help remembering just how good God is.

Here are five ways that God has demonstrated his goodness to us:

1. He hasn’t given us what we deserve.
Who among us is worthy of God’s mercy? If you answer that you are, you, my friend, struggle with self righteousness. Romans 6:23 tells us that what we deserve for the sin in our life is eternal separation from God. But, that God has offered us eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ. We deserve death, but He offers us life.

2. He has given us today.
The air that you breathed when you woke up this morning was a gift from Almighty God. He loves you. He has given you an opportunity to make the most of today. He hasn’t promised us tomorrow, but we have right now. No matter what your circumstance, our good God can use today to shape the rest of your life. Let Him have complete control over your day. Ask Him to give you divine moments. Look for the small things that He brings your way. Try to view every interaction with others as a moment that God has designed from before you were born. Those interactions with others are sacred moments.

3. He gave us Jesus.
The greatest gift ever given to this world is the gift of Jesus Christ. Romans 5:8 says that, “God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Only He, who is ultimate good, would do something so sacrificial.

4. He ultimately desires the best for us.
The problem is, so many of us think that we know what is best for us better than God does. Ask the average American, and they’ll tell you that the best for us would be a big house, nice car, good family. God’s best has nothing to do with that, and everything to do with desiring Him. God, in His goodness, wants us to experience and love Him.

5. He loves like no other.
Some of the most beautiful passages in Scripture are the ones that describe the expressions of love that Jesus showed to those who rejected him.

Of a rich young ruler, who would ultimately reject Jesus, we read that, “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” (Mark 10:21a)

Of a crowd that desperately needed the touch of a Savior we read, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.(Mark 6:34)

To the disciple that was in the midst of betraying Him, Jesus said, “Friend, do what you came for.” (Matthew 26:50)

I don’t know what you’re going through this week. But, I hope you’ll remember God’s goodness. He loves you so much.

An old children’s song sums it up well . . .

God is so good
God is so good
God is so good
He’s so good to me.
God loves me so
God loves me so
God loves me so
He’s so good to me.
He cares for me
He cares for me
He cares for me
He’s so good to me.
He died for me
He died for me
He died for me
He’s so good to me.
He lives for me
He lives for me
He lives for me
He’s so good to me.