Friday Men’s Group 3/22/24

Vitis Vinifera

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and
I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do NOTHING.”

Hi Men:

I pray you had a great week and …… “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” (Eph 3:16)

I was on a zoom call yesterday and one of the brothers brought up that verse in Eph 3. It’s been on my mind ever since. This one verse is so profound, but let me suggest you take 15 seconds to read 14 through 19: Ephesians 3:14-19 I still can’t get my mind around these jaw-dropping verses.

Paul’s prayer is for us to not to just “know” about our faith, but to be “transformed” by it from the inside out. To utilize the endless power that is available through the Holy Spirit. Are you asking God for this?


What about the weird photo at the top? When I go on my morning walks and exit out my back gate, I have been observing these leaves that are now opening up on this vine. They have crept over the wall from my Cambodian neighbors. You may know what Vitis vinifera is and for those that don’t, it’s a “common grape vine.” As they develop into grapes, I continue to be amazed how sweet they become in spite of how hot that block wall gets in the summer. Here are just a couple interesting facts about grape vines:

  • Longevity: Some can produce fruit for over a 100 years!

  • Root System: Can extend 50 feet down

  • They go way back: One of the oldest cultivated fruits. They discovered a winery in Armenia that was about 5,000 to 6,000 years old.

  • Uses: Other than wine, you guys already know. But a few we don’t think of at the moment…….. jellies, jams, vinegar, grape seed extract and of course raisins

  • Jesus: He used the analogy of the vine and the branches in John 15:1-11 Of course they are familiar to you, but have you really taken the time to meditate on them. If I snip that small branch off from the vine, by the next morning it will be shriveled and dead and can do NOTHING. But if it continues to “abide” in the vine, it will bear much fruit. The same with us men. If we abide in Christ, we will bear much fruit…… and if we don’t, we will be cast into the fire and burned up…… This is SERIOUS BUSINESS men! Jesus ends those verses by declaring…. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love…..”

Note: This is a great little book on John 15 “Secrets of the Vine” by Bruce Wilkinson



It seems like something is always going askew. If it’s not something in my backyard or in the house, it’s something with my car. I was visiting my older brother and told him I have an engine light that came on. He said to head down to Auto Zone and have them plug their computer in and read the codes. I did just that.

The nicest guy helped me, Jason. He plugged his computer into my car and some codes appeared. He also checked my battery. He said I have a “canister purge valve” that’s defective. Who knew 😊 There were more details, but the Lord allowed me to say, “Hey Jason, you have been so helpful, I now have something for you. Has anyone ever given you a pack of million dollar bills?” The look on his face was priceless. I said, “Actually it’s worth way more than a million dollars, it’s the Million Dollar Gospel of John!” He then said wow and told me he had Jesus in his heart. I said fantastic and then started asking him some questions. He had another lady waiting for him, so I had to condense a few things, but found out he has “no peace” and worries all the time. I pulled out the Steps To Peace With God and said he needs to read this. He said he definitely will. We took a photo, hugged each other and I gave him a significant tip. He also has my email address on the back of the gospel tract.

Men, these opportunities are everywhere. And as long God keeps breaking stuff, it looks like I will have plenty more opportunities 😊


Broken, Dependent and Grateful,
(Gal 2:20)

“For if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
(Romans 14:8)


Men: We are called to suffer. To get a current glimpse of what that means, you will want to read the Democratic Republic of the Congo article below this devotional by Voice of the Martyrs. Now, read Day 82 thoughtfully………

“This is God’s universal purpose for all Christian suffering:
More contentment in God and less satisfaction in the world.”
John Piper

Called to Suffer – Day 82 Red Book

The purpose of these devotionals is to help you think Biblically
Solomon said, “As a man thinks, so is he”

“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace,
who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself
perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”
1 Peter 5:10


Read this eye-opening article (12 minutes)

Two quotes from the article:

Ungwa, a believer in the Ruzizi Valley, fled into the jungle with her four children after Muslims attacked and killed her husband. While she was hiding, the attackers found her and sexually assaulter her. She continues to suffer from the trauma of the attack, but she remains firm in her faith

“If the church is not strengthened, Islam will be everywhere,” explained a pastor who works to train and send Congolese missionaries throughout the country. Their efforts are not without risk.

Three Questions after reading the above article:

  • How bold are you in sharing your faith?
  • What is your greatest reluctance in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ?
  • Does anything need to change?

In the true story of Nik and Ruth Ripken, “The Insanity of God”  The trailer begins with:

“90% born in the church, raised in the church, saved in the church, married and buried in the church, will NEVER share Jesus with another person.”



Interest Or Identification?

I have been crucified with Christ. Galatians 2:20


Men: A buddy in SoCal sent this to me. This is so profound…… & my favorite verse!

The imperative need spiritually is to sign the death warrant of the disposition of sin, to turn all emotional impressions and intellectual beliefs into a moral verdict against the disposition of sin, viz., my claim to my right to myself. Paul says — “I have been crucified with Christ”; he does not say, “I have determined to imitate Jesus Christ,” or, “I will endeavor to follow Him,” but, “I have been identified with Him in His death.” When I come to such a moral decision and act upon it, then all that Christ wrought for me on the Cross is wrought in me. The free committal of myself to God gives the Holy Spirit the chance to impart to me the holiness of Jesus Christ.

“…nevertheless I live….” The individuality remains, but the mainspring, the ruling disposition, is radically altered. The same human body remains, but the old satanic right to myself is destroyed.

“And the life which I now live in the flesh,…” not the life which I long to live and pray to live, but the life I now live in my mortal flesh, the life which men can see, “I live by the faith of the Son of God.” This faith is not Paul’s faith in Jesus Christ, but the faith that the Son of God has imparted to him — “the faith of the Son of God.” It is no longer faith in faith, but faith which has overleapt all conscious bounds, the identical faith of the Son of God.

[My Utmost for His Highest — Oswald Chambers — March 21]


Contrasting Philippians 4:8 with today’s News & Media

Men: The thought came to mind if I took Phil 4:8 and applied antonyms to the key words to highlight the stark contrast between Paul’s “uplifting” verse and a very negative and distressing rendition. Here are the 2 versions:

Original Version

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

Opposite Version

“Finally, brethren, whatever is false, whatever is disgraceful, whatever is wrong, whatever is impure, whatever is unpleasant, whatever is of bad repute, if there is any mediocrity and if anything, worthy of criticism, dwell on these things.”

If we want to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7), we better be very careful what we watch and listen to…………


Men: Does this verse describe you?

Note: Orchids from Sam’s Club for my wife


“The Glove”
Corrie Ten Boom on John 15:5

Watch on YouTube (1 minute)

Men: You will appreciate this short 1 minute video on how Corrie Ten Boom explains John 15:5 that we discussed above. She was in a German Concentration Camp during WWII