Alright so I thought I would give those who do read my blog a little taste of one of the activities that I get to participate in at Immanuel Church, which is our Tuesday night Men’s Group. We meet almost every Tuesday and this night has become one of the highlights of my week. When I first heard about men’s night I pictured it as a tight knit group of guys, between ten to twelve, who study the Bible together, they minister to one another, and pray for one another. This picture got me really stoked. What could be better? However, when I got there I was quite surprised to see around forty guys show up for this, much bigger than I expected. Now I was even more interested.
As the night began they would open up with a question, the first week I was there was about our favorite Christmas carol. From there Ray Ortlund, the pastor, began to teach. It’s crazy I had heard a lot about Ray, I had even heard him preach before, and knowing that he would be there, I am not going to lie I was pretty intimidated to meet him. But that night seeing him sitting in a circle with the other guys of Immanuel I saw, not an intimidating pastor, but a warm, welcoming, and approachable pastor who would teach the men of Immanuel about the upcoming year and how to prepare for it.
Once Ray finished teaching came two more activities. The first is walking in the light. This is where the guys would be open and honest with one another. Many bring up the struggles they are facing and others offer encouragement and gospel to help. The final thing we do is honor time. This is by far my favorite time of the week. The men in the group have the opportunity to out-do one another by honoring them. This time is very uplifting, not because I am getting honored but because I get to hear about how God is at work in other people’s lives. It is a time where we do nothing but lift up and encourage each other with the gospel. This is something that I have never seen before, I don’t think I have ever seen a group of guys sitting in a circle trying to strengthen and encourage each other, and not just with vague truths but with specific instances. They point out things like how they have seen God change them in certain areas of their lives or how Christ-like they were in certain situations or how an act of kindness meant a great deal to them or how they just loved having them around. It is amazing what kind of environment this creates. Such love and authenticity. I don’t see these guys trying to tear each other down with “light” jokes and sarcasm, which is what I am accustomed to doing. Instead I see men genuinely loving each other by pointing out Christ in their lives and this type of love creates a safe and freeing environment. I am not scared of saying the wrong thing or confessing sin. I don’t have to worry about the guys pointing and laughing at me or even making jokes about my sin, because I know they care and will pray for me and continually give me the gospel which is what I desperately need.
I love Immanuel church and the men that are apart of it. God couldn’t of put me in a better place. These aren’t perfect men, but they love God and want the gospel to shine in their lives. They are the most challenging group of guys I have ever been around and I barely know them. I can’t wait to continue to go deeper with them.