Posted On October 19, 2021

The Way Forward: A Road Map of Spiritual Growth for Men in the 21st Century by Joe Barnard

by | Oct 19, 2021 | Christian Living, Featured

There are a LOT of how-to books in the discipleship space, and I’m glad for that. Just like many of us go through dozens of high school teachers, we might really only connect with one or two. The trick is that you have to go to class. This might be one of the ones that really helps me. Maybe not. Take a deep breath, go in, and give the teacher a chance.

I’m glad I attended Joe Barnard’s class in this book because it actually provides what his title promises: a way forward. I’ve read and continue to read the Bible enough so that I often hear the thoughts of others and think something along the lines of “I’ve heard this before. Nothing new here.”

But then the Lord brings truths like the one revealed in Jeremiah 6:16 to mind—there’s value in the ancient paths. As a matter of fact, that’s where the good way forward lives, and it’s where maybe I’ll be able to find some rest.

Joe’s book delivers. My first breath of fresh air was feeling like he reached out to me just five pages in, “If I had to write a life narrative, the overarching theme would be distraction….” Yes! I know what I need to do. I even do it more often than not. But peace is elusive, and I don’t remember ever feeling like I’m doing enough.

Joe continues with clarity, “I am writing this book to help other guys like me get out of the wilderness.” Yes! I feel just like that! Alive, moving, and even able to feel productive and joyful at times, but also unsure if I’m going to make it as far as I planned, realizing I’m feeling isolated, and even more deeply unsure if maybe I should just call for help, sit still, and wait for someone to come find me. Almost always, though, I choose to just keep plodding along, hoping for the best but not really expecting that outcome.

Over the next 40 pages or so, Joe walked me through what seemed a museum of my life, a list of “seven factors that contribute to the stunted spiritual growth of men.” Some of them are more present than others in my life. Some are stronger and some are weaker. Some I’ve overcome more than once, but some I never have. I imagine this is a taste of what the woman at the well in John 4 must’ve felt as Jesus told her everything she ever did (John 4:39). It’s an experience that links being deeply unsettled with excitement and relief in a unique way. Maybe I’ve been found!

Only the Spirit’s gift of encouragement, which I believe Joe must possess, is both able and willing to challenge and validate a soul simultaneously. “To be captivated by Christ is not to be finished with sin. Yet to be captivated is to long for the day when Christ sweeps the last crumb of leaven from the heart.” Yes! I think I’m captivated with Christ, but the presence of sin, in me and in the world around me, leaves dark edges around the light. I KNOW I’m loved and saved, but I NEED to hear it. Most men, none that I know, admit that often, readily, clearly, and well. Joe’s book has helped me live one step closer to being a man that does.

The rest of the book is the “how,” the way forward. “There’s nothing new under the sun,” Solomon’s wisdom rightly declares, but Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, clarifies what God wants us to DO with that truth: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16). Joe’s book is a good guide that shows the way forward.

Related Posts

The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ

The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ

On today’s episode, a listener writes in and asks Dave, “Why Is Jesus Christ Unique?” The Importance of the Uniqueness of Jesus. The Uniqueness of Jesus in Scripture. The Heresy at Colossae and Paul’s Response to It. The Centrality of Christ. The Superiority...

Sweet Peace

Sweet Peace

Peter Bilhorn (1887) wrote, “Through Christ on the cross peace was made, my debt by His death was all paid; no other foundation is laid for peace, the gift of God’s love.  Peace, peace, sweet peace!  Wonderful gift from above!  O wonderful, wonderful peace!  Sweet...

Expressing Love and Care For Our Church Leaders

Expressing Love and Care For Our Church Leaders

Romans 16:3-5a, “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house.” “I’d like to be involved in gospel...

Phoebe’s Commendation

Phoebe’s Commendation

Romans 16:1-2, “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant[a] of the church at Cenchreae, 2 that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.”...

A Virgin Birth, the Big Bang, and Why Christmas Happened

A Virgin Birth, the Big Bang, and Why Christmas Happened

The Virgin Birth “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isa. 7:14) “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins....

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share
Tweet4
Email
Reddit
Share