2017 Conference Registration Now Open!

Online registration for the 2017 Men of Truth Conference, The Art of Godliness, is now open! Come and join us for a day of focusing on contentment in this life as we look to the next and register ahead as soon as you can!

Registrations are handled via Eventbrite, and there are special tickets available for MLC students (make sure to bring your student ID the day of the conference). Register online today and visit the conference pages to find out more!

Truth Devotion: “The truth will set you free”

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).

Freedom. It’s important to people in our culture. There have been dozens of movies about it, hundreds of songs about it (most of them country songs), and more speeches about it than anyone can count. But do you ever wonder if despite all this, people in our culture don’t really understand what freedom actually is? Is the ability to say what we want and do what we want, whatever we want whenever we want, really freedom?

Well, to most people it probably would sound like it. After all, if saying and do what we want isn’t freedom, then what is? But God in his Word begs to differ. He tells us that our hearts are deceitful and cannot be trusted, that our desires are the root of sin, and that when we do what our sinful hearts want, we make ourselves slaves to sin.

Slaves. There’s no freedom there. Being free to do and say whatever we want is not freedom at all; it’s just another form of slavery.

Jesus offers us true freedom. True freedom is knowing that the failures that haunt us ultimately have no hold over us. True freedom is knowing that the pain we feel in this life will one day be gone and forgotten. True freedom is having the ability to discern the difference between that which we want and is good for us, and that which we want and is bad for us. True freedom is having the strength to not follow desires that would be harmful to us and others. The truth Jesus gives us in his Word tells us how he has taken away our sin, tells us of the heaven that awaits us, tells us how we were meant to live, and gives us the power to live according to his will.

I knew someone once who was caught in possession of child pornography. He was arrested, and his access to the internet was taken away. Now, to the world’s definition of freedom, this man was no longer free. He could no longer do what he wanted, go where he wanted, look at what he wanted. But his assessment of the situation? “For the first time in a very long time, I finally feel free.” See, his sin had caught up with him, but he had faith in the one who truly makes him free. He saw his earthly consequences as an act of God’s grace, reclaiming him from slavery to his sin and returning him to the loving arms of his Father.

Jesus offers you the same freedom. He offers it every time he leads you to his Word. He offers it every time he puts someone in your life who speaks the truth to you. He offers it every time he confronts you with your sin and leads you to repentance. He offers it every time temptation comes your way and he gives you a way to resist. In him, you are free.

Reflect

  • Are you tempted to think of freedom in the same terms our culture defines it? Have you seen ways that exercising that “freedom” has led people into slavery?
  • Has there been a time in your life when you followed the desires of your heart, only to find yourself ultimately dissatisfied and enslaved to sin? Are you in that place right now?
  • The truth Jesus gives us in his Word is the only source of true freedom. How will you tap into that freedom and live by it today?

Truth Devotion: “Sanctify them by the truth”

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

To sanctify something is to make it holy, to set it apart for a holy purpose. God sanctified the people of Israel by setting them apart for the purpose of preserving the line of the Savior. God sanctified Jesus by setting apart from the rest of humanity, the child of a virgin and the only human being since Adam and Eve born without sin. God has sanctified his Church, the people called out of the world to be his own, through Word and Sacraments.

When I teach my catechism students what it means to be sanctified, I use the example of a chair designated for sitting and studying the Word. If I wanted a place to sit and study the Bible, where I could keep myself free of distraction and in a meditative state of mind, I might choose a chair in a corner of my house and designate it as my “Bible reading chair.” In order to preserve the sanctity of that chair, I would not put it in sight of the TV. I wouldn’t sit in it when playing a game on my phone. I wouldn’t use it as a stepstool to reach something in an up high cupboard. I would use that chair for its one purpose – a place to be in the Word. To do anything else in or with the chair would make it less than sanctified.

Okay, that’s a hypothetical example, and a little bit silly. I don’t have such a chair, and while it doesn’t sound like a bad idea, I don’t know if it’s practical in my little house to have an entire piece of furniture devoted solely to my daily devotion. But you get the point – to set something apart for a holy purpose means to keep it free from things that take away from that holy purpose.

So it is with our lives. Christ has sanctified us by his truth. He has set us apart for holiness by his truth. Through the truth that Jesus is our Savior, and through the truth that his blood cleanses us from all sin, we have been brought to faith and set apart from the rest of the world.

Since we are set apart, we live by the truth of God’s Word. When faced with a question of how we are to live, we don’t do what the world does – look to philosophy, or theory, or a blog post on the top ten ways to make your life awesome. We look to God’s Word. There we find the truth that sets us apart, and leads us to live sanctified lives, lives set apart for God’s holy purpose.

Reflect

  • In what ways does the life of a sanctified Christian look different than the lives of those around them?
  • How does it change your outlook on life to know that God has set you apart for a holy purpose?
    If God has set you apart for a holy purpose, that means he wants to accomplish things through you. How will you identify the purpose God has for you right now? How can you fulfill the mission of his Church today?

Truth Devotion: “Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light”

“Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (John 3:21).

Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Ruling Council. He was a man respected by others for his spiritual insights and his devotion to the Law of Moses. From a social and political perspective, he had made it big. But that also meant he had a lot to lose. A little bit of shame, a little bit of scandal, and he would lose it all. Such is the way of politics.

That might explain why Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, under cover of darkness. He wanted to talk to this young rabbi, and as he explained to Jesus, he knew that Jesus had come from God. But he wasn’t quite ready yet to be seen learning from Jesus. He suspected, and perhaps rightly so, that if anyone found out, he would lose everything.

We might wonder if Jesus’ words here were aimed directly at Nicodemus and his clandestine meeting. “You came to me at night, under cover of darkness. But if you’re going to live by the Truth, you can’t hide. Step out into the light.”

Most Christians in America today don’t go quite so far out of their way to hide their faith. We’re not worshiping in secret, not hiding our Bibles behind bricks in the fireplace. But there are plenty of ways we inadvertently hide our faith by the way we live. Do we avoid talking about our faith for fear it will make someone uncomfortable? Do we choose entertainment that is popular but does not honor God? Do we join in with others in gossip or crude joking? If someone found out you were a Christian, would they be surprised?

Even the most dedicated disciple of Jesus would have to admit that they have fallen short. We all do. The fact is, when we live by the truth, as Jesus says, we are living with the truth that we are sinners in need of God’s grace. If what we have done has been done in the sight of God, we know that he sees people who fail to meet his righteous standard.

Yet, we also live – truly live – by the truth that Jesus has met God’s righteous standard on our behalf. He stands in our place, the sinless Son of God, and took our place on the cross, enduring God’s holy wrath for us. That truth brings us out of the darkness of unbelief and terror and into the light of faith and hope. So, we do live by the truth, and we are in the light. Because we stand in the light of grace, the things we do now are seen by God as works for his glory.

Nicodemus didn’t stay in the dark. Later on, Nicodemus opposed the other Pharisees and rulers, speaking in defense of Jesus. After Jesus’ death, Nicodemus went with Joseph of Arimathea to bury Jesus, an act of honor for him that was done in full daylight. Like Nicodemus, we also can be bold in honoring Jesus and showing that we are his disciples.

Reflect

  • How have you been tempted to “hide in the dark” when it comes to your faith? How have the choices you’ve made obscured what you believe?
  • Habakkuk 2:4 and Romans 1:17 say that “the righteous will live by faith.” Jesus talks here about “living by the truth.” Reflect on the connection between these concepts, and how they show themselves in the life of a Christian.
  • How will you “come out of the dark” today and make it clear that you are a disciple of Jesus?

Truth Devotion: “Everyone on the side of truth …”

“Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37b).

Our culture has no end of opinions about truth. The Enlightenment Era said Truth could be found all around us and within us, and that through reflection and meditation we could acquire it. The Industrial Revolution brought the firm belief that science and careful study could establish Truth from empirical data, and that there is no limit to how much Truth the human mind can acquire. Modernism told us to be skeptical of all the past Truth claims, that Truth is a social construct, and that mankind has the ability to shape Truth ourselves. Post-modernism took it a step further in saying that every person can shape Truth individually, that Truth is relative, and that Truth is whatever you decide it to be.

Pontius Pilate’s view of Truth came out of his culture as well. He had learned the lessons of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Julius. He had probably come the same conclusion as many of his day – that if there is such a thing as Truth, it is unknowable, and a smart man simply focuses on the here and now. He reflected this cynical and jaded view of Truth when he responded to Jesus with a flippant, “What is truth?”

The irony was that it was standing right in front of him. Jesus had challenged Pilate with the question that still haunts every jaded and cynical Truth-seeker and Truth-ignorer in the world today – What do you do with Jesus? Where do you stand, his side of the line, or the other? Because Jesus draws a line in the sand here. “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” There are two sides here. There’s Truth – the absolute Truth from the One who is True – and there’s everything else. And if it’s not Truth, what is it?

We have to wrestle with this question too. In big and small ways, every day, we’re confronted with lies. Lies about how the world works, about how we are to behave in society, about our jobs, our marriages, our families, our possessions, our time, our reason for being, and everything in between. The lies come from the TV and newspapers, the internet and social media, books, movies, and radio, even our friends and, yes, even sometimes Christians. How do we confront those lies?

“Everyone on the side of Truth listens to me.”

Reflect

  • Identify some of the lies that have confronted you in the last few days. Think about the things you’ve heard, read, or seen that have made their mark on you. How did you react to when you were confronted with them?
  • Consider again the various approaches to Truth laid out in the first paragraph of the devotion. Why do you suppose those things have appealed to people? Do you find yourself attracted to any of them?
  • Jesus has drawn a line in the sand – Truth on his side, everything else on the other. What can you do today to make sure you’re standing on and standing up for his side of the line?

Truth Devotion: “I am the way and the truth …”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Who do you say Jesus is?

Jesus had a lot to say about truth. He used the phrase “I tell you the truth” more than seventy times throughout the Gospels. He stated that the very reason he was born was to testify to the truth. He pointed people to the truth of God’s Word, and he drew a line in the sand, declaring that on his side is truth, and anything else is falsehood.

But perhaps the boldest of all his claims about truth was this – that he claimed to be the Truth. That there is no separation between the Truth and who he is. That he is the absolute embodiment of absolute Truth. And he went on to make the claim that because he is the embodiment of Truth, no one gets to God except by him.

There are a lot of people in the world claiming to have the truth. There are a lot of religions out there claiming to have the way to God. For the most part, our culture is all about being tolerant and accepting of all religious viewpoints… that is, except for Jesus. Sure, many people give lip service to Jesus, claiming that he’s all about peace and love and kindness and acceptance, and that he was a great teacher. But if anyone points out that Jesus said he’s also the only Truth and the only way to God, suddenly he isn’t so well appreciated.

This should be no surprise. After all, when Jesus made his claims, it made people angry enough that they put him to death. When a religious leader stands up and says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” that’s when people start getting upset. And after 2,000 years he’s still intimidating people. Because he proved his right to claim that he is the Truth by his resurrection.

So who do you say he is? When his disciples were asked that question, they answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus said that that’s the Truth on which he would build his entire Church. He is the Truth on which we build, and he is the one who brings us to God.

Reflect

  • Jesus asked his disciples who the people said he was, and who they said he was. He asks us the same question: Who do you say he is?
  • It’s been said that all of human history rises and falls on the question of who Jesus is. More importantly, every person’s life rises or falls on the question of who Jesus is. How has your answer to that question changed your life?
  • If Jesus is everything he claims to be, then nothing can be more important than to know his Truth, and to lead others to it. What is one thing you can change about how you live that will help you lead others to the Truth?

Truth Devotion: “The reason I was born”

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth” (John 18:37a).

If I had asked you, “Why did Jesus come into the world?” what would you have answered? Maybe you would have said, “To redeem the world” or “to bring salvation” or “to die and rise again” or “to do the will of the Father.” All of these would have been correct. Maybe you’ve read this passage enough, though, that you would have said, “To testify to the truth.”

If you’re a follower of Jesus, then it stands to reason that you would want to know what is most important to him. If I told you, “This is the most important thing about Jesus. You need to know this. This was the reason he was born,” my hope is that your response would be, “Okay, tell me! I want to know!”

Well, this is it – the truth. And while that may seem a little vague and generalized, the implications are enormous. See, if testifying to the truth is the whole purpose and reason of Jesus’ life on earth, and if Jesus is, as he said, truly God, with all authority in heaven and on earth, then it means that there is nothing more important for us than to know the truth. And furthermore, if we are, as Paul writes, to be imitators of Jesus, then our lives also ought to testify to the truth.

So what is the truth to which Jesus testifies? Well, there’s the truth that we are all sinners. The truth that our sins separate us from God, and make us deserving of damnation. The truth that Jesus came to save sinners, and the truth that he is the only salvation for sinners. The truth that life as his follower is not easy, but that he has won the victory on our behalf. The truth that we are now his servants, remade in him to reflect him and to point to him.

And so much more. But you get the idea. We, as his followers, want to make truth – all truth, but especially the truth about who we are before God, who Jesus is, and what he has done for us – the core and the focus of our lives. Be imitators of Jesus, and let truth be the reason you were born.

Reflect

  • Nothing was more important to Jesus than the truth, and nothing is more important to him than that his followers know the truth. Is knowing the truth the most important thing in my life? Does the way I prioritize my time reflect the importance of knowing the truth?
  • The purpose of Jesus life was to testify to the truth, and we are to be imitators of him. Does my life testify to the truth? Do I allow falsehoods and half-truths to have a place in my life? How am I dealing with those?
  • The greatest of all truths to which Jesus’ life testifies is that he is the Savior, and that through him we have freedom from sin, death, and the devil. How can I show the people in my life that this is true?

Truth Devotion: “I Tell You the Truth”

“I tell you the truth…” (Matthew 5:26; Matthew 6:2; Matthew 6:5; Matthew 6:16; Matthew 8:10; Matthew 10:15; Matthew 10:42; Matthew 11:11; Matthew 16:28; Matthew 18:3; Matthew 18:13; Matthew 18:18; Matthew 18:19; Matthew 19:23; Matthew 19:28; Matthew 21:21; Matthew 21:31; Matthew 23:36; Matthew 24:2; Matthew 24:34; Matthew 24:47; Matthew 25:12; Matthew 25:40; Matthew 25:45; Matthew 26:13; Matthew 26:21; Matthew 26:34; Mark 3:28; Mark 8:12; Mark 9:1; Mark 9:41; Mark 10:15; Mark 10:29; Mark 11:23; Mark 12:43; Mark 13:30; Mark 14:18; Mark 14:25; Mark 14:30; Luke 4:24; Luke 12:37; Luke 18:17; Luke 18:29; Luke 21:32; John 1:51; John 3:3; John 3:5; John 3:11; John 5:19; John 5:24; John 5:25; John 6:26; John 6:32; John 6:47; John 6:53; John 8:34; John 8:51; John 8:58; John 10:1; John 10:7; John 12:24; John 13:16; John 13:20; John 13:21; John 13:38; John 14:12; John 16:20; John 16:23; John 21:18)

That long list of references is the nearly seventy times that Jesus is quoted as having said, “I tell you the truth…” or, in the newest version of the NIV, “Very truly I tell you.” In Greek, the word is “Amen,” which is familiar to anyone who has prayed before (and even those who haven’t). The fact that Jesus said it so many times means that not only was he concerned with the truth, but he wanted to communicate that what he had to say was the truth.

Do you believe Jesus when he says he is telling the truth?

No doubt every Christian would say, “Of course I do!” But if we examine our attitudes and actions, we’d have to confess that we don’t always act like we do. There are many voices in the world telling us, “I tell you the truth…” and then telling us everything but. Yet, our sinful nature likes those false truths and follows their urgings.

This is why we need to pay attention to the truth from Jesus. See, Jesus didn’t just claim to be telling the truth – he backed it up. He backed it up with references to the Scriptures that clearly pointed to him. He backed it up with miracles that demonstrated he was from God. He backed it up with authoritative preaching and teaching that cut through every argument. He backed it up with the biggest miracle of all – predicting his own death and resurrection, and then seeing it through. That’s proof positive that when he said, “I tell you the truth…” he was, in fact, telling the truth.

And the most important truth he told us is that God so loved the world, that he sent his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Reflect

  • Do I believe Jesus when he says that he is telling me the truth? How do my attitudes and actions bear out what I believe?
  • What are some “worldly truth statements” I’ve been tempted to believe, or to put into practice in my life recently? How have they affected my relationship with my Lord? With others?
  • Jesus resurrection proves that everything he said is true. But some things Jesus said are challenging. What statements of Jesus am I having trouble understanding or accepting?
  • Jesus told us that “God so loved the world.” I’m part of the world. How does this truth affect the things I’ve just reflected on? How is it going to affect my day?

The Conference Is Coming!

Shelter From the Storm Illustration
Illustration by Jason Jaspersen

The 2016 Men of Truth Conference, Shelter from the Storm, is less than two days away! We are so excited to have a great group of men joining us on Saturday at Martin Luther College.

God bless you all as you travel to join us on Saturday, and please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions (or want a last-minute registration request).

God be praised!

Growing in Christ, living by faith, pursuing the Truth

MOT Logo

Today we added our mission and vision statements to the website! You can visit the About page to read them and also to find out who is helping to shape the future of Men of Truth.

If you are interested in joining the group to help steer it into the future, just contact us so that we can get in touch and find out how best you can help!

Finally, registration closes VERY SOON for Shelter from the Storm, the 2016 Men of Truth Conference. Please sign up today and we hope to see so many of you men there on May 7, 2016 at Martin Luther College!