In chapters 6 -7 of Disciplines of a Godly Young Man, we learned about the discipline of the mind, both in what our minds are to refuse and receive. Just as certain foods are either good or bad for your body and enable you to be either in shape or out of shape, the content that we view and think about greatly impacts our spiritual health in the way that we think as Christians. Without question, we should abstain and reject certain content because it is harmful to our minds, and we should accept and receive certain content because it is helpful to our minds. So, what’s the test? How do we determine what we should think about? Of course, the answer is the Bible, because it reveals to us what is right and wrong and helpful or harmful.
The Apostle Paul gives us clear instruction on how to think and what we are to think about in Philippians 4:8, a verse worth memorizing:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
As Christians, we are to “have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16), and this is done as we “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). We must be intentional in what we look at and think about. And that’s why Philippians 4:8 is so helpful because it serves as a clear guide for us, that we are to “think about these things.” Whatever is: true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. If we are to think about such things, then we must not think about what’s opposite of them—things that are false, dishonorable, wrong, impure, unloving, looked down on, improper, or unworthy of praise. In order to have a healthy Christian mind, we must receive and reject such things.
The authors write, “As we have shown, no one will get anywhere in anything without discipline. And more, no one can have a godly mind apart from discipline—which demands the discipline of refusal. This is a call to be a man, because it takes a real man to refuse the streaming input of godless culture and then endure the inevitable misunderstanding and anger of those who are surprised that you do not run with them” (p.63). Will you accept the hard work of filtering your thoughts and the content that makes you thing such things. This includes the things we watch on television, movies, the internet, phones, and the music we listen to. The things you take in affect what you give out. As the old saying goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.” Analyze the content you look at and listen to, and receive it or reject it based on Philippians 4:8 and the counsel of God’s Word.
It’s been said, “Sow a thought and reap an act. Sow an act and reap a habit. Sow a habit and reap a character. Sow a character and reap a destiny.” Your thoughts determine your actions, and ultimately they form who you are. A.W. Tozer says, “What we think about when we are free to think about what we will—this is what we are or will soon become.” Your thoughts affect both this life and eternal life, so be sure to think biblically so that you may live biblically. May you love the Lord your God with all of your mind (Matt. 22:39) by thinking about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise—God’s Word!
In chapter 4 of Disciplines of a Godly Young Man, we saw that friendship is one of the most important aspects of life, especially in the Christian life. Great friendships consist of love, commitment, loyalty, and encouragement, and friends must be disciplined—both in giving and receiving—in prayer, friendliness, affirmation, listening, and acceptance. Clearly, friendship takes work.
Friendships often form through common interests. You like the same sports, music, or activities, or you dress and act similarly. But the problem is that our interests change, and therefore friendships must be built upon a stronger foundation—there must be a real connection. Deep friendships move past the surface level of what you like to the root of who you are. This way, you are friends both because of a character and conduct, who you are and what you like to do. But still, there are possibilities beyond this for stronger friendship.
Friendship is strongest when there is fellowship. This moves beyond personality and interest to who you are in Christ and how you live for Him. Fellowship can be defined as the people of God speaking, sharing, and supply the things of God. The word literally means “sharing,” “partnership,” or “communion.” It’s “common participation in God.” Christian friendships find their unity in their friendship with the Savior, which provides deep roots of love, commitment, loyalty, and encouragement. In Scripture, fellowship is most clearly seen in the “one another” statements, such as:
R. Kent Hughes and W. Carey Hughes write, “It is not that friends think alike on everything. Often it is quite the opposite. But they do share the same core beliefs and approach to life. And this is why a Christian friendship exceeds anything that exists between those who are not Christians—for such a friendship is founded on a supernatural connection of soul” (46). As we saw in our reading, such was the friendship of Jonathan and David, for “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David” (1 Samuel 18:1).
The path of friendship is twofold: you need good friends and you need to be a good friend. Guys, if we really want to grow in godliness, we must make our friendships a priority. You need their friendship and they need your friendship. Strong friendships don’t form overnight; it takes discipline! In what ways will you be a better friend?
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the bait of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
To live in this sex-driven world as a Christian, our lives need to be marked by spiritual discipline! In Chapter 3 of Disciplines of Godly Young Man, we are exhorted to man-up and fight against the desire to give in to our sinful lust.
Many of us recognize that our culture’s view of sex promises ultimate satisfaction, but fails to deliver; we see that God’s plan for sex is far greater because He is the one who invented it. Even though we know this, our world is saturated with sexual distractions that entice young people to forget the One who created them. Everyday we are assaulted with temptation to ignore God and pursue deceptive promises of pleasure.
The key is that we forget and ignore God. In the book, R. Kent Hughes quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who said, “the moment lust takes control ‘God… loses all reality… Satan does not fill us with hatred of God, but with forgetfulness of God’” (p.34).
If we were always aware of God’s presence, do you think that we would give in to sexual temptation as often? If we worked to keep the Lord at the forefront of our minds, do you think we would struggle as much?
Moses warned the people of Israel, “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments” in Deuteronomy 8:11 because he knew that they were prone to be distracted and forget. As men, we need take care—or “work up a spiritual sweat”—to constantly focus our minds on Christ. We must forsake the temporary pleasure of lust and seek the source of all true pleasure: God himself.
Without encountering the living God everyday through His Word, we are defenseless against our own wandering, distraction-prone hearts. In His presence is fullness of joy; at his right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11), therefore, we should be disciplined to seek Him at all times. Don’t let yourself forget that.
Written by: Jacob Meiser
Every month or two on a Saturday morning, us guys get together for what’s called “The Refuge.” It’s an opportunity to get together with like-minded guys, spend some time being encouraged in the Lord, and then do something really manly. This past Saturday, we spent some time hitting the gym both spiritually and physically.
We had a time of devotion in 1 Timothy 4:7-8 talking about how physical exercise and training is good, but spiritual fitness is far better. Physical fitness benefits us in this life, but spiritual fitness benefits us in this life and the life to come. Paul instructs us as young men to “train yourself for godliness.”
With that in mind, and our time in the Word behind us, we headed out to KO Fitness Center here in Riverside to work out our physical bodies. We did cross-fit training exercises and learned some basics in martial arts. Our trainers (Daniel and Brittany) promised us they were taking it easy on us, but our aching bodies are causing us to wonder. When it was all said and done, we had a great morning investing in both the inner and outer man.
Check out these photos of our time at KO.