What I’m talking about

By: G. J. Fortier

In these articles I like to talk a lot about fellowship. The reason for this is that the Bible tells us that fellowship is an integral part of every Christian’s growth. We were never supposed to try and live this Christian experience alone. We were meant to get out there and use our God given talents to show others how they can use theirs as well. You can kind of think of this as a mission. In fact, we as Christians have been given a commission:

Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Matthew 28:19 (NIV)

It’s good for Christian’s to get out there not just because it gives us an opportunity to share the Word with people or groups who may have never heard it, or perhaps have a skewed understanding of scripture based on the incorrect perceptions of others, especially those who have an agenda to present the Bible falsely. We are responsible for this as surely as we are responsible for the development of our brothers and sisters who come to the same building that we do on Sunday mornings. After all, and I think that you’ll agree, there are more people there (in the service on Sunday) who really don’t have a clue, than there are true believers. I’d go so far as to say that the non-believers outnumber us 3 to 1. So, if we aren’t opening our arms, our hearts and our homes to those among us who are, at the very least, making the effort to get there, what good can we possibly hope to be to those outside the walls?

They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42 (NIV)

Sure, many of them attend church out of a sense of obligation. It’s something that our parents instilled in us within our familial units when we were kids. Many others are trying to “figure it out”, and some are there to “make an appearance” for the benefit, not of God’s church, but of their status in the community. You know the kind; those who hope to build their customer base by appearing to be solid Christian citizens, worthy to do business with. Others have a political agenda that they’re nursing toward some seat of power in their local, state or federal government. Or even those who are seemingly the perfect church goers, but whose real ambition is to be the “one people look to as an example” regardless of the kind of example that they present.

I pray that you will be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing that we have in Christ. Philemon 1:6 (NIV)

So, you’re probably asking yourselves; in what way can I accomplish this? How can I be in more fellowship than I am already? I go to church on Sunday … and not just church … I go to Sunday School too … and to the “ice cream socials” and “bar-b-que lunches” and the “holiday meals”— once a year.  I go to Bible study on Wednesday, I go to a prayer breakfast once a week, month, quarter. What else can I possibly do?

How about— oh I don’t know— being a friend to someone who hasn’t got many … or— God forbid— any?   

Have you ever looked across the sanctuary and saw someone that you didn’t know— or worse, someone that you do— and thought, “To heck with that guy/gal! He/she must be sitting alone because no one likes him/her. He/she must be some kind of a jerk. He/she deserves to be alone”?

Well, I hope not.

But, why didn’t you take the time to go and visit with that person? Would it have killed you to invite them out to lunch … with the rest of your friends … after church? What about just inviting them over to watch the ballgame, or go with you to that car show? Did you think, “Maybe they like guns too and would like to go to the show in—” pick your venue.

I’m not trying to “toot my own horn” here, but I recently invited someone(s) out for lunch who was new to the church service. Someone(s) who looked like they might be looking for a friendly environment to make a church home for their family. Less recently, I befriended someone who was new to the state. My friends and I invited this person out for lunch after a service, and later decided that it would probably be good for us to invite this person out to do things outside of church, just so he didn’t think that we just wanted him to come only to church. In other words, we wanted to make him our friend and not just our church friend.

The funny thing about people is, regardless of what we do for God, whether we’re a pastor or a Sunday School teacher or a choir member, we tend to be clique-ish, just like we were in high school. We tend to think of ourselves (us, our friends and family) first and “others” second … completely forgetting the fact that we are all children of God … or, at least, potentials.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. Romans 15:2 (NIV)

Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. 1 Corinthians 10:24 (NIV)

I can say all these things because I’ve been— I am that guy sitting alone in the fourth pew on the other side of the sanctuary. But, I’m a loner and obviously don’t need the kind of fellowship that I’ve been talking about here. But, I can guarantee you, there are plenty of men and women out there who are in desperate need of this kind of love. Let’s try not to disappoint them. They may begin to think that it’s just how all Christian’s are. And we know that’s not true … don’t we? 

Today is the day. Now is the time. The battle is on!

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

G. J. Fortier is a member of IronMen Ministries and of First Baptist Church, Centerville, Georgia. Look for his Christian Military thriller, Mirrored Man: The Rob Tyler Chronicles, Book 1 and Reflections of the Mirrored Man: The Rob Tyler Chronicles book 2 on Amazon for Kindle and paperback. Or visit his website at www.mirroredman.com.


The Book

By: G. J. Fortier

One of my favorite things about writing is, at the end of any given month when I haven’t been inspired to write about anything in particular, when all of a sudden … boom … there it is! That’s what I’m supposed to write about! It usually happens while I’m in the shower (sorry to those of you who know me personally for any images that may conjure) and then I hurry to my computer and start writing like a banshee that’s been lit on fire (if it’s possible to light an Irish mythological spirit on fire, that is)!

So, what’s the Earth shattering topic that I’ve been inspired to write about this month? Well, it’s right at the top of the page. I want to spend a little time on the Book. Which Book am I talking about? C’mon, I would have thought that the fact that I’ve capitalized the word every time I’ve typed it would’ve been a hint. I’m talking about the Bible. That’s what the word Bible literally means, Book. Now, I could spend some time on why that is, but I’d probably put you to sleep. And, let’s face it, every time you fall asleep on the toilet, your legs get numb.

Okay, you remember the Bible, right? It’s that leather-bound tome on the coffee table that you write the birthdates of all the new family members in … that’s covered with old copies of Field and Stream and Sports Illustrated. Or, maybe it’s in your nightstand, or behind the seat in your truck. It’s the one that you grab on the way into church every Sunday for that time when the Pastor makes everybody stand as he reads the verse(s) that will be pertinent to his sermon … that you have to endure before you can head to Applebee’s.

Here is a statement of truth: The Bible contains everything that you’ll ever need to deal with any situation that you will encounter until the day that the Lord calls you home to Heaven. If you have a problem with anything in the previous sentence … seriously … have you even read The Bible? I know that there are those of you reading this who are of the opinion that the only relevant teachings in the Bible are the ones that come after the book of Malachi. That would be The New Testament for you heathens out there. After all, we call ourselves Christians, don’t we? That makes us followers of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, doesn’t it? And it’s Jesus’ teachings in The New Testament that are the guidelines for how we are to live our lives. And if that is your stance on the subject, I can only disagree with you on one point: that they are the only relevant teachings. Why? Because, what verses does Christ Himself recall in the of face challenges from … oh, I don’t know … the elders, the pharisees, Pilate, Satan? That’s right, verses from The Old Testament!

Ah ha! Gotcha there didn’t I?

Your statutes are wonderful; therefore, I obey them. The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119: 129-130

Yes, I agree that there are some pretty funky things in The Old Testament that really do need some serious study. And, if you’re involved with a men’s Bible study like I am on Wednesdays, you will have ample time to do just that. There’s nothing wrong with questioning anything, including the Bible. There’s nothing wrong with a little spirited debate (those who know me just shook their heads) that can provide some much-needed context that we may not be able to see all by our lonesome. That’s how we learn. Just keep in mind that no two people on the Earth will ever believe exactly the same thing on all subjects. And I, for one, encourage you to exercise your imagination concerning the less … shall we say … specific things that are in scripture. Remember, you are allowed to have your own personal beliefs and you will remain Christians, even if some of your closest brothers and sisters disagree with you about the small stuff. Just don’t go off the deep-end questioning the big stuff. If you have any beliefs that are in conflict with what scripture tells us, sorry to be blunt (no, I’m really not), but you’re wrong.

Remember that time that things in your life went all higgledy-piggledy (higgledy-piggledy means got real messy) and you pulled out your Bible, opened it to some random page, closed your eyes and pointed to that verse that was going to explain away all your pain and put you back on the road to peace and harmony? No? Seriously, I’m the only one? C’mon, you know that you’ve done it (or not, whatever). You read the verse and thought … huh? This verse isn’t even remotely relevant to anything that’s happened to anyone who’s every existed in the history of the universe!

Really? Maybe you should’ve read this article before you did that because there’s a word that I used three paragraphs ago … context, that stuff that you don’t ever remember to tell your wife when she gets mad about something that you did … that can make all the difference. Another important point is that we were never meant to go-it-alone. We are always supposed to seek out Christian fellowship rather than try to sort through all of life’s problems by ourselves. But, I don’t want to give you the impression that the Bible is only useful when things have gone, again, all higgledy-piggledy. All you married guys have to do is take a look at The Old Testament book, The Song of Solomon <wink, wink>.

Now, for some serious stuff. If you’re (still) reading this, I can only assume that you’re a follower of Jesus Christ. If that’s so, and you don’t actively want to read scripture daily about His reason for coming here to be with us for that all-too short time so long ago, then I say that you don’t have the right to call yourself a Christian.

Today is the day. Now is the time. The battle is on!

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

G. J. Fortier is a member of IronMen Ministries and of First Baptist Church, Centerville, Georgia. Look for his Christian Military thriller, Mirrored Man: The Rob Tyler Chronicles, Book 1 and Reflections of the Mirrored Man: The Rob Tyler Chronicles book 2 on Amazon for Kindle and paperback. Or visit his website at www.mirroredman.com.


So… what’s next?

By: G. J. Fortier

Well, it’s over. The Awakening 2018 is gone … finito … put away … done … in the history books.

Or is it?

This past weekend, The Awakening 2018 made its presence known in middle Georgia and beyond! With eight dynamic men of God – Pastor Troy Wynn of Freedom church in Warner Robins, GA; former NFL fullback Jonathan Evans, chaplain of the Dallas Cowboys football team; former NFL quarterback Jeff Kemp; former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran; minister and U. S. Senate candidate Bishop E. W. Jackson; minister, public speaker, and writer / producer of movies like Flywheel, Facing the Giants, War Room and others (and my personal favorite), Stephen Kendrick; legendry college football coaches Bobby and Tommy Bowden – combined with the music of This Hope, well … what more could you ask for? They were gathered together motivating an audience of hundreds, and well … let’s just say that if you weren’t in Perry, Georgia Friday night and Saturday, April 27th and 28th, 2018 then … shame on you!

Yes, that’s right, the most spiritual event to hit middle Georgia in years (and not just because I was involved in it) lit a fire under men the of God who were fortunate enough to attend. I know, because I was there! It inspired men to return to their home churches, form up with other men and study the Word of God in Christian fellowship. They were learning how to support other men in a passionate, non-judgmental and loving way, and how to hold each other accountable for all the things that we struggle with in our daily lives.

Armed with a super-duper (when’s the last time you heard that?) eight-week Bible study that was designed by men for men to help them ease their way into a fellowship study that will transcend the passage of time and provide the basis to form a more effective men’s ministry. Together, and with those tools in hand, they’ll be able to spread His message of love, humility and redemption throughout their communities back home. In other words, they’ll be able to do what Jesus commanded us to do:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Matthew 28:19 (NIV)

Ok, so what does all that actually mean?

I’m so glad you asked!

What it literally means is that, for men to train themselves to become more effective Christian leaders in their communities, they need – I can’t even believe that I’m gonna say thisthey need help. Yeah, that’s right, you were not born with a natural instinct to do the right thing. In fact, when you think about it, you were born pretty selfish, and it takes years of training to break us of that. And just when you think you’re done learning what you need to learn to start your walk with Jesus, you realize that … wow … there were older men there all along that helped you prepare for it! How about that! You didn’t do it on your own!

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

Who’d a thunk-it? You really aren’t self-sufficient, in spite of what your daddy might have told ya.

So, what makes you think that there aren’t men in your life, coming up behind you, who need some help too?

Do you see a pattern forming here?

Whether you’re a son, or a brother, or a father, grandfather, uncle, best friend, friend … you get the picture … no matter who you are to the people around you, there are men in your life that you can help prepare for their Christian walk … even if you don’t see any way on Earth that they’ll ever grow up, calm down, get right, shape up, and simmer down. (You can go on and insert your favorite phrase here) Don’t ever forget that you were young once and you probably did a lot of stuff that you aren’t particularly proud of. Maybe even some things that no one knows about even to this day. Regardless of what you think, there are men …

maybe even some older ones …

“Do not rebuke an older man harshly but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers.” 1 Timothy 5:1 (NIV)

maybe even some women …

“older women as mothers and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” 1 Timothy 2 (NIV)

that you can, at the very least, provide a godly example for. You never know who’s watching you now, or who God will put in your path tomorrow.

And if you’re thinking that all this is what your pastor or pastors are supposed to do, that it’s their job to do the mentoring because that’s what your tithe is paying them to do … then double, no triple, no quadruple shame on you! Show me in God’s Word where it says that! Our pastors are men just like us. They need our help too! Men, we are each the priests of our homes and our home is anywhere we hang our hat!

Here’s the bottom line. You’ve been given a job to do. Are you doing it? Are you helping to raise the next generation of Christian leaders in your community? Because if you aren’t, what good are you to Jesus? How are you honoring His sacrifice – His death on the cross— for your sins? Who will say, when you’re gone, that you accomplished anything that really matters?

“If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed’, but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:16-17 (NIV)

This might seem harsh, but if that’s your attitude, then you might as well not even have bothered to become a Christian.

To answer the question that I asked at the beginning of this article – Or is it? Well, that’s entirely up to you.

P.S. The Awakening 2020 … is coming!

Today is the day. Now is the time. The battle is on!

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

G. J. Fortier is a member of IronMen Ministries and of First Baptist Church, Centerville, Georgia. Look for his novels, Mirrored Man: The Rob Tyler Chronicles, Book 1 and Reflections of the Mirrored Man: The Rob Tyler Chronicles book 2 on Amazon for Kindle and paperback. Or visit his website at www.mirroredman.com.


Are You Ready?

By: G. J. Fortier

Here we go again! The Awakening 2018 National Men’s Conference is here!

Can it really be that it’s been two years since The Awakening 2016? Well, not quite, but that’s beside the point. We’re here, we’re on fire for God and we’re doing what Jesus Christ commanded us to do:

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19 (NIV)

Okay, I know that some of you are here for the first time, and the rest of us will forgive you for that, so let me take a few lines to tell you all just what this conference is all about. If I had to describe what we hope to accomplish during our limited time together in one word, that word would be fellowship. We, Christian men, were never meant to walk this walk alone, and it makes little difference if you’re married, or have a girlfriend that you can share your life experiences with. There are just some things that you can’t talk to your significant other about.

Think I’m wrong? Well, how about that porn site that you stumbled onto when no one was around, and you lingered a bit longer than you should have? What about the woman in your workplace that you watch with anticipation to walk past your desk and your mind wanders to places where you really shouldn’t go?

That’s what I thought. There are some things you need another man, and not just any man, to share things like that with. Why not “just any man”? Because you also need a man who will firmly, but with love and compassion, hold you accountable for the things that you struggle with.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (NIV)

But that’s not all. Fellowship is one of the most important ingredients in the recipe for the sharing the Word of God. We all get discouraged, distracted and downright tired with all the things that we’re responsible for in our daily lives, and it’s hard for anyone … including you pastors out there … to stay inspired, especially in this day and age.

“The times, they are a’changin’.”

“A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” Proverbs 22:3 (NIV)

I don’t need to tell you that all you need to do is look around to see how different the world has become in the past couple of generations, and I’m not going to take the time to explain the obvious to you now. But whether we’re living in the end times, or simply in a world that’s changing so rapidly that it’s nearly impossible to keep up, we, Christian men, have the responsibility to keep the focus on the Word. After all, if not us, then who?  

At the church where I am a member, we have what we call “Halftime”. It’s our Wednesday evening men’s Bible study. To borrow a term that’s popular with today’s youth, Halftime is a real “safe space” where we gather to pray, to study God’s Word and fellowship with our brothers in Christ. But it’s more than that. It’s a time when we can, without fear or reservation, share those things that weigh heavily, and very often overwhelmingly, on us. It’s a place where we can— pardon the term— “vomit” all of life’s troubles out on the floor and have it sifted through by men who care and, more importantly, can in some cases even relate to. Chances are, if you have a problem, no matter how dire it may seem, there are men who have experienced something similar and can offer advice and comfort through prayerful counsel. But it only works because anonymity and confidentiality are strictly adhered to. Do you have a time and place where you can feel comfortable enough to do that? If so, share what you have with others. If not, seek out one of The Awakening event staff— the guys with the different colored shirts— and they will help you find a place where you can feel that same love of Jesus that I feel at Halftime, and believe me, if an introvert like me can find it, so can you. Trust me, we haven’t cornered the market. Jesus’ love is infinite. It may just take some out-of-the-box thinking to make it happen in your corner of the world.

Here’s a question for you: When’s the last time that you shared your testimony with anyone? Isn’t your testimony important to you? Don’t you think that it’s worth sharing? Isn’t it the reason that you’re a Christian— a follower of Jesus Christ? The fact of the matter is that it’s critically important that you share your personal testimony with others, especially the younger people in your life, because I guarantee that it will inspire them, it will embolden them, and it might just give them the encouragement that they need to share their testimony with someone else.

Here’s another question: Do you have a testimony to give? Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Do you have a personal relationship with Him? Do you know … that you know … that you know, beyond all doubt, where you will spend eternity when you leave this world? If you’ve answered no to any of these questions, isn’t it time for you to find out the truth? There is only one truth. The only way that you will find salvation and eternal life in Heaven is by acknowledging that you are a sinner, accepting Jesus sacrifice on the cross as atonement for your sins through grace, following His Word and obeying his command— to go forth and share it with the world.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

This is the place! Now is the time! The battle is on!

Ephesians 6:10-18 and 2 Chronicles 7:14.

G. J. Fortier is a member of IronMen Ministries and of First Baptist Church, Centerville, Georgia. Look for his novels, Mirrored Man: The Rob Tyler Chronicles, Book 1 and Reflections of the Mirrored Man: The Rob Tyler Chronicles book 2 on Amazon for Kindle and paperback. Or visit his website at www.mirroredman.com.


The Awakening 2018

By: G. J. Fortier 

Fellowship.

That word deserves a paragraph of its own, don’t you think? I could expound on the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s various definitions of the word, but I really don’t think I need to here. Every man reading this knows what the word means. We come together in fellowship in the church sanctuary. We come together in fellowship in our Sunday School classes, in our Wednesday evening Bible studies, at our Friday or Saturday morning prayer breakfasts, in AWANA, UPWARD, the single mom’s oil change … I could go on, but you get the idea. We come together in all these various capacities to celebrate and worship the Trinity of our Almighty God, His Son, Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit. We come together in worship, in prayer, in song and … you guessed it … in common fellowship with our Christian brothers and sisters. We raise our children in fellowship, recognizing that— while they definitely are our responsibility— they are merely on-loan to us, just like every other blessing that God has bestowed upon us. We share our fellowship with our friends, our co-workers and even (when we’re paying attention … and sometimes when we aren’t) with strangers. And the scary part is … we do it whether we want to or not. But what is fellowship, exactly?

I’m glad you asked.

I had no idea what fellowship was until I joined First Baptist Church in Centerville, Georgia. I was raised in a Catholic household, going to church religiously once a week. But, whether it was because we moved around so much or (more likely) it was due to my parents not really being interested in the whole “god” thing, the term “church family” was something I heard about on TV shows like Highway to Heaven and Touched by an Angel. As a family, we never prayed together except once a year on Thanksgiving— and I was always the one doing the praying because, after all, I was the youngest (as if that makes any sense)— we never read the Bible together, never talked about God, Jesus or the Spirit at all. We were a family who “didn’t discuss religion or politics”.

Many of you are shaking your head as you read this, and I don’t blame you. You were raised in Christian households, attended church whenever the doors were open and spent one Saturday a quarter doing much need chores around the church campus— and that was on top of everything else that was going on in your lives. And it wasn’t just you either. Your friends and family were right there with you through it all.

Do these descriptions sound like they’re opposite ends of the spectrum? If so, then … good! They should! Because, while there are many of you reading this that can identify with one or the other … there are even more of you who find themselves somewhere in between the two. In fact, I’d wager that there are more of you in this third category than there are in the other two combined. And, you know what? That’s okay. Because, just like our Christian walk, learning the places where we can serve is a process. Not everyone is going to be suited for everything.

That’s what The Awakening 2018 is all about.

Two years ago, God called some men to come together to put on an event such as middle-Georgia hadn’t seen— at least in a long time. The Awakening 2016 was a gathering of men unlike any that I had ever experienced. It had a clear goal. To bring Christian men together to “wake us” from the complacency that allowed us— through our inaction— to let this great nation or ours fall to depths that were, quite frankly, shocking. I don’t feel it necessary to remind you of what kind of men had been running the United States before 2016, but we— and many others like us who were similarly called by the Almighty— spread the word and caused something to happen that, frankly, few of us believed was even possible. We elected a man who, while flawed— and who among the great men of the Bible weren’t, don’t forget— has done some pretty amazing things in his first year in office.

It’s time we did it again.

Just imagine what we can accomplish when we focus the same energy that we summoned two years ago a little closer to home. We’re going to turn the spotlight onto our daily lives. We, as Christian men, are the leaders of our churches, of our communities and, most importantly, of our families. We are the examples that are to be followed. We are the messengers, bringing God’s Word to those who have never heard it at all, never heard it in the correct context, or don’t really take it seriously. It’s up to us, as Christian men, to stand up and be counted for who it is that we belong to! We have a mission, and it’s been clearly defined. It wasn’t a suggestion. It wasn’t a proposal. Jesus wasn’t hinting around at what He wanted us to do.
It was an order!

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)

 How do you do this? Through fellowship. We need the love and encouragement of our Christian brothers because, guess what, we’re flawed too. We have things in our lives that don’t need to be there. We need accountability. We need men— no, your wives, girlfriends, etc. will not do— to keep us on track and away from things that will drag us down, making us ineffective in our responsibilities.

We need fellowship!

The battle is on!

Ephesians 6:10-18 and 2 Chronicles 7:14.

G. J. Fortier is a member of IronMen Ministries and of First Baptist Church, Centerville, Georgia. Look for his novels, Mirrored Man: The Rob Tyler Chronicles, Book 1 and Reflections of the Mirrored Man: The Rob Tyler Chronicles book 2 on Amazon for Kindle and paperback. Or visit his website at www.mirroredman.com.


Did Santa Miss the Mark?

By: G. J. Fortier 

I remember one Christmas when I was about 9 or 10 when all I wanted was an HO scale electric train set, the one with the Chattanooga Choo Choo.  I’m sure that my fascination with model trains had something to do with one of the many western movies and TV shows that seemed to dominate the airwaves in the sixties and seventies, and I just wasn’t going to be satisfied with anything else that year. I had passed on many a trip to the mall that December, using the opportunity of an empty house to search through my parent’s bedroom for hiding places where they might have stashed my treasured train. I wanted to have a peek at just one end of the package that I could unwrap without leaving too much evidence of my intrusion. But it was to no avail. To my ultimate frustration, my parents had guessed my intentions and found better hiding places for the family’s gifts, so my train remained annoyingly well hidden.

On the morning of Christmas, I, like so many other children on that blessed day, found it impossible to sleep. At 4 AM I could take no more and I snuck into my brother’s room and woke him, so he could share my delight at the treasures that we would find under the tree. But Fred, being six years older than me, looked at his clock and told me to go back to bed until “at least 6:30” or risk serious injury. Reluctantly, I complied, but only after dodging Fred’s half-hearted swing and miss.

So, there I lay, staring at my clock, willing the minutes to pass until I had an epiphany. I would wait until I was sure that my brother was asleep, turn his clock ahead by an appropriate amount of time and rouse him! Why, he’d be so excited by the opening of presents that he’d never know the difference, right?

Well …

We tore our way to the tree, ripping package after package open and wondering at the toys and other gifts (no, not the underwear and socks) that “Santa” had brought us. But, with each present we opened, it became clearer that there was no model train set to be found that year. I was so disappointed and miserable that I didn’t even mind when my brother, realizing that it was not yet 5 AM, left bruises on my upper arms that marked the event for the next several days.

It’s no revelation when I tell you that the whole Christmas experience has become far too commercialized. The idea that we must take time to contemplate how much Sue will spend on our gift so that we might purchase something for her of an appropriate value, evening the score, so-to-speak, is ridiculous to me. In my opinion, the giving of gifts should be limited to children. It should be our way to show them our love for Jesus and honor the spirit of the Wise Men who travelled from afar to shower Him with gold, frankincense and myrrh in recognition of the birth of the One True King. The idea of exchanging gifts between adults seems just a bit petty to me, and the attitudes that some of us display at the stores this time of year is far from godly.

This past Christmas, I ordered for my son a signet ring with the crest of our family engraved upon it. It was possibly the most important gift that I would ever give him, and I had been planning to give it to him on either his twentieth birthday or, the following Christmas. When the package arrived on the Friday before Christmas (the company had guaranteed delivery by Christmas) I rushed home to examine this soon-to-be family heirloom. I was impressed with the polished cherry box where the ring would rest for safe keeping when my son wasn’t wearing it and, upon opening it, I was thrilled to see the shining sterling silver band that he would treasure for the rest of his life. But, upon closer scrutiny, I realized that the crest (our family’s is a castle on a hill) wasn’t anything like the one that had been represented in the “proof” email that the maker had sent for my approval. There was a bear and tree design instead! And where the name FORTIER should have been, was the name HONSBERGER engraved on its face! They had sent me the wrong ring!

I was incensed, I was disappointed, and those feelings only deepened when the customer service representatives that I desperately needed to speak with were all “assisting other customers” … every time I called! At that point, there was no way that I could get my son’s ring in time for a Christmas opening anyway, but I was still going to let those responsible know about my feelings!

Christmas came and went, and my son was far devastated about the turn of events like I was. We spent our time together, laughing and enjoying each other’s company and came to realize that it wasn’t the presents that mattered to us, it was the time that we spent together. I’m sure that the error will be corrected, and my son will have his ring at some point, but I learned an important lesson that day, and I began to wonder how many people, when asked the question, “What did you get for Christmas?” would answer with the only response that matters.

I got Jesus!

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her first born, a son. She wrapped him in clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:6-8 (NIV)

“On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.” Luke 2:21 (NIV)

The battle is on!

Ephesians 6:10-18 and 2 Chronicles 7:14.

G. J. Fortier is a member of IronMen Ministries and of First Baptist Church, Centerville, Georgia. Look for his books, Mirrored Man: The Rob Tyler Chronicles, Book 1 and Reflections of the Mirrored Man: The Rob Tyler Chronicles book 2 on Amazon for Kindle and paperback. Or visit his website at www.mirroredman.com.


Humility

By: G. J. Fortier 

We’ve been talking a lot lately about humility. Whether in the Sunday sermon, our daily devotional or the Wednesday evening Bible study, the topic seems to be front and center. And I know what you’re thinking, because I’m thinking it too; it’s hard to be humble when you’re as good as I am!

Kidding aside, humility is something that we all should be striving for, though I can understand and even agree, to a certain extent, why the idea of it isn’t attractive. When we’re humble we do things like, admit our sins and shortcomings, apologize when we wrong someone, hold our tongues when we are wronged, and refrain from making those self-appreciative comments when we do the right thing. These actions, while humble, can make us look weak in the eyes of non-believers. And weak people are victims to be taken advantage of. It’s happened to every single one of us, that time or times when we go over and above to “do it the right way” and then it becomes expected that we continue to go over and above and even beyond what our peers do, sometimes to the extent that we wind up doing most, if not all the work. If this wasn’t true, there wouldn’t be any sayings like “give ‘em an inch and they’ll take a mile”.

None of us want to appear weak. When I think of weakness, I think of that one lame gazelle on the edge of the herd, limping around, searching for leftovers while the lioness is planning on making it the pride’s main course for dinner. When we look like a victim, especially in today’s turbulent world, we could very easily find ourselves in an extremely uncomfortable situation one evening, when we’re approached by a couple of strangers in the middle of the Walmart parking lot.

But, is that what Jesus meant for us to project, weakness?

Who does the Bible say will inherit the Earth? The Weak? No, I’m pretty sure that it says that the meek will inherit the Earth. What’s the difference? Let’s look.

The definition of weakness is: the state or quality of being weak; lack of strength, vigor, or the like; feebleness.

The definition of meekness is: righteoushumble, teachable, and patient under suffering, long suffering, willing to follow gospel teachings; an attribute of a true disciple.

So, not really the same thing, huh?

To be meek is to be humble, not timid. It’s not “tooting our own horn” or criticizing others. It’s being helpful, while maintaining a fair workload. It’s being sincere in our apologies, not boastful about the things that we’ve accomplished or being too prideful in the stuff that we have — or should I say — all the blessings that God has bestowed upon us through His grace. Because if it weren’t for grace, and grace alone, we would find it difficult, indeed, even to take our next breath if He decided to withhold the air that surrounds us. Everything we have, from the clothes that we wear, the cars that we drive, the houses where we live and even the bodies in which our souls reside came from our Father in Heaven.

In my youth, I was a very arrogant man. I wasn’t good looking — far from it in fact — I wasn’t a great athlete — even farther from that — and I wasn’t a particularly good student. What I was, was an outsider. By the time I started working at 16, my family had moved 18 times. I was always the new kid, I was always the fat kid, and I eventually learned that the best way to keep from being picked-on — to keep from being a victim — was to be aggressive. And it was an easy lesson, too. All I had to do was stand up to the bullies and they would back down. I became the guy you didn’t want to mess with. Unfortunately, this behavior translated into my business persona all too easily. I was very overbearing with my employees and as a result, I was not well liked. I found myself going from job to job, not because I wasn’t good at what I did — I was very good at what I did — but because I was a jerk, and people didn’t want to work with me. It took me years to learn from the example of others that you can attract a lot more flies with honey than with vinegar, but there’s always a danger there of becoming a pushover. It’s a very fine line between being domineering and being a wimp, and it took time for me to find that balance. Eventually I did, and my job got a great deal easier.

In my (humble) opinion, any leader worth his or her salt leads by example. As Christians, we are all meant to be leaders. We are all meant to lead others to the saving grace of Jesus Christ. As Christians, we must be that example of grace and humility that Jesus wants us to be, at all times, because we are being watched at all times. The example we set, whether it’s the way we dress, showing courtesy when driving around town, or simply how our yard looks, people are watching to see just what kind of folks Christian’s are. Imagine if the only example they had of what Christianity is was the hypocrites they show on TV protesting soldiers funerals and the like. Who in their right mind would want any part of that?

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)

 The battle is on!

Ephesians 6:10-18 and 2 Chronicles 7:14.

G. J. Fortier is a member of IronMen Ministries and of First Baptist Church, Centerville, Georgia. Look for his book, Mirrored Man: The Rob Tyler Chronicles, Book 1 available on Amazon for Kindle. Or visit his website at www.mirroredman.com.


What’s Your Talent?

By: G. J. Fortier 

“His master replied ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your masters happiness!’” Matthew 25:21 (NIV)

No, that’s not the talents we’re going to be talking about. We’re going to be talking about that special gift that God has blessed you with. But, you say, God has given me more than one gift. You may have the gift of leadership or encouragement or discernment. But these aren’t necessarily the talents that I’m referring to either.

Or are they?

Here’s the definition of Gift:

  1. A thing given willingly without payment; a present.
  2. A natural ability or talent, such as “a gift of comedy”.

Well, that really doesn’t narrow it down either. So, I guess that you’re just going to have to figure out for yourself just what your gift(s) is(are).

The fact is, we all have them. One of mine, is writing. It’s the way I have of communicating to you and others that I find most effective. See, while I am an effective verbal communicator, I really don’t want to talk. I’m much more comfortable sitting here at my keyboard, typing out my thoughts in a way that’s, in all likelihood, easier for you to understand. Now, I’m not implying that you’re dumb or anything like that, I’m saying that I am a hard person to get to know. Some of you are like that too, so you understand where I’m coming from. I write these columns once a month, trying to express my thoughts in a way that men will understand, and from a Biblical point of view.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, you might be asking yourself, … well, if you’re not going to be talking about Matthew 25, why is it at the top of this article?

Because God works in mysterious ways, my friend!

What’s your talent? Is it singing, playing a musical instrument, teaching, coaching, playing basketball? C’mon, I can’t list all the possible talents that you might possess here. I’m only allotted about a thousand words. So, you need to throw me a bone and figure it out for yourself. And, I can hear some others among you saying, … I don’t have a talent, to which I say, horse hockey! We all have them. You just may not realize it. Maybe you sing in the shower. Or maybe you played the guitar once in a fourth-grade recital, but you haven’t picked up your instrument in four decades. Whatever it is, it’s there. Are you a carpenter? An electrician? A computer engineer? A doctor or a nurse? Only you can answer that.

Well, I guess if you’re one of those things, other people might be able to tell it.

But, I digress. Many of you have hidden talents. God gave them to you. So, stop being shy about it, and fess up! Because it’s time that you started using them for Him! You should be singing in the choir, or playing with the Worship Team. You should be teaching a Sunday School class or coaching Upward Basketball. There’s serving in AWANA, working in the kitchen, being a greeter on Sunday morning, or maybe you can find that faulty light switch in the gym and fix it. Or, you might plan the next mission trip – and they don’t have to be to a foreign country, either. You could plan to wash cars on a Saturday morning, or have a bake sale. There is, almost literally, no end to the number of ways that you can contribute, not only to your church, but to the community in general. There is a way for us to show the people that we don’t see every week just a little bit of Jesus’ love.

“He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’”

“Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand’”

“‘No,’ Peter said, ‘you shall never wash my feet.’”

“Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’”

“‘Then Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet, but my hands and my head as well!’” John 13:6–9 (NIV)

Just try and count all the ways that Jesus blesses us in our daily lives! Just one day! I bet that you can’t do it! Go ahead and try! I’ll wait …

Seriously, imagine all that Jesus, not only has done for us, but will do for us! And don’t even include eternal life in the equation. Who are we not to do for Him?

“But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds. Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” James 2:18-19 (NIV)

It’s time to act! It’s time to get off our duffs and do something worthwhile for Him! We are all good at something. I don’t care if it’s building model fighter planes! Start your church’s first model aircraft club! Start a knitting club (if that’s what you’re really into)! Heck, start a shooting club! I don’t care what it is. And you shouldn’t either. Why? Because everything that we do, we should do it for Him! I’m pretty sure that I read that somewhere. But it’s not just an excuse to get together and enjoy a common interest with others. It’s imperative that you make the event an opportunity for Christian fellowship. Open and close whatever you do with prayer. Share Christ! That’s what it’s all about! God gave us all talents … and interests that we enjoy. Do something, anything, and soon!

Because, He deserves it.

And remember,

You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things.”

Just imagine what it might lead you to!

The battle is on!

 

Ephesians 6:10-18 and 2 Chronicles 7:14.

G. J. Fortier is a member of IronMen Ministries and of First Baptist Church, Centerville, Georgia. Look for his book, Mirrored Man: The Rob Tyler Chronicles, Book 1 available on Amazon for Kindle. Or visit his website at www.mirroredman.com.

Coming soon! Reflections of the Mirrored Man: The Rob Tyler Chronicles book 2.


Ready or Not

By: G. J. Fortier 

There you are, happily living your life, settled into a routine, sometimes wondering how you get it all done. You have your job, football (or, you can insert your sport of choice … or multiple thereof …  here) practice, parent teacher’s conferences, piano lessons, dance class, karate practice, Church, Bible study, AWANA, Upward basketball, men’s ministry meetings and … well … you get the idea. Then there’s yard work, housework, laundry, cooking, cleaning and that dreaded “honey-do” list. It really is amazing how you keep it all in balance without driving those around you or yourself crazy, but somehow you manage. And then, just when you thought you had it all planned out, they creep up on you so stealthily that when you realize it’s time to prepare, it’s very nearly too late.

What am I talking about, you ask?

The horror that is … the holidays!

Yes, it’s that time of year again, and there’s no getting around it. No matter who you are or where you are in life, you cannot avoid the headache, heartache and sheer frustration of a season that lasts for … could it really be … two-and-a-half months!

Yes, it’s two-and-a-half months long!

It starts with Halloween (for those of you who allow(ed)) your kids to participate in the costumed, candy-gathering ritual. Or maybe you just take them to the Fall Festival at church. Whichever, chances are, you’re doing something extra on or about the 30th of October.

Then, there’s Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving! That holiday when families come together to share a meal, watch some football (or not, depending how you stand on the whole “freedom of speech issue”) and prepare for that other dreaded (and sometimes, it seems, obligatory) ritual of joining thousands and thousands of others in a descent on all of the local retailers for the privilege of going into debt in the name of spending money to buy gifts for people who really don’t want or need them, all in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, assuming, that is, that we’re even aware of the true meaning of Christmas (which, judging from the behavior of some the people on that video you watched, we don’t).

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling around us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1: 14 (NIV)

Christmas! Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas! I always have. It’s a chance to show children our love for Jesus by giving them gifts in His name, because we can’t give them directly to Him. What a great sentiment, not to mention a teachable moment for us as Christian parents. Oh, there are some who say that it’s a stolen holiday because some Brainiacs figured out that Jesus was actually born in the Spring, Summer or Fall, depending on who you ask. They say that it uses all kinds of pagan symbolism, the tree, the music, the blah, blah, blah! But I don’t care. I love Christmas … and I hope you do too!

Then comes New Years! A time for people to let loose their inhibitions, drink too much and be promiscuous in order to celebrate the fact that the Earth has, once again, circled the Sun without running into anything major … like a planet … just like it has countless times since God made it so. Really? I mean, you’d think that we’d be used to it by now, right? But sadly, it seems we aren’t, so the ritual goes on and on and …

And then it’s over. We return to our drab existence of … well … everything I covered in the first paragraph and more. Dealing with the weight we gained as a result of our indulgences, and the bills that start rolling in for the gifts we bought that nobody really wanted.

Hurrah!

Now, this may have sounded just a little bit cynical thus far (how unusual for me, I know), but it’s really not meant to be. I really do love this time of year … and hate it, all at the same time. I love the cool weather, the changing of the seasons and football (Go Pats!). It’s both my favorite time of year … and my least favorite, and here’s why. There are many of us who don’t have children to take trick-or-treat-ing, or families to share a meal with on Thanksgiving, or people to buy stupid gifts for to exchange on Christmas morning, or … well … I really don’t care about New Year’s … other than it’s an extra day off from work. There are those of us who’s family lives too far away for it to be practical to travel and spend time with, and others that simply have no family at all. Some of us have “celebrated” the holidays by ourselves for so long that we really wouldn’t be comfortable being around people during them anyway.

At least that’s what I tell myself.

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’.” Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

It’s hard sometimes, at least for me, to remember the scripture above when it’s 9:00 AM on December 25th and I’m by myself, eating Cheerio’s and watching The Lord of The Rings trilogy for the 17th time. I have no idea what other people do, but that’s my ritual (though sometimes I do switch it up and watch a Star Trek marathon).

“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18 (NIV)

That’s when I break out my Bible, for there is scripture there that reminds us (and who among us doesn’t need reminding from time to time) that Jesus is with us always. He just doesn’t leave us.

“When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.” Psalm 27:10 (NIV)

But still, for some of us, it’s more of a relief when the holidays are over than you can possibly imagine.

 

G. J. Fortier is a member of IronMen Ministries and of First Baptist Church, Centerville, Georgia. Look for his book, Mirrored Man: The Rob Tyler Chronicles, Book 1 available on Amazon for Kindle and at www.smashwords.com. Or visit his website at www.mirroredman.com. Coming soon! Reflections of the Mirrored Man: The Rob Tyler Chronicles book 2.


Where Will You Be?

By: G. J. Fortier

Now brothers, when I write these articles it’s usually in a spirit (as hard as it may be to believe) of hope and positivity. I try to convey a sense of how we can better ourselves as Christian men and make our little corner of the world a little nicer, a little friendlier and give it an awareness of the blessings that God has provided us through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. I try to suggest ways in which we can better prepare ourselves and those around us for the inevitable return of the Messiah, whenever that may be. But, when I wake up on a Monday morning and the headline of the local newspaper reads:

“Church to allow same-sex marriages”

I am simply heartbroken. But, why should I be?

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV)

There it is, in black and white! We’ve been warned that these times would come so it should be no surprise to those of us who have read and, more importantly, teach the word. Most of the people have either never heard about this or have simply chosen to ignore it. Therefore, it is our responsibility to tell them, and there will be dire consequences for those of us who don’t because we (teachers) will be judged more harshly than the others.

Now, I have never been one to speak of the end times being near. After all, the Bible says that He will not return until every ear has heard his true Word.

“At that time, if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible.” Matthew 24:23-24

“And the Gospel must first be preached to all nations.” Mark 13:10 (NIV)

My friend, Brian, just recently returned from a mission trip in a part of the world where there are millions of souls who haven’t heard His Word, and there are some estimates that say as many as 2.5-billion souls world-wide still haven’t, so it’s hard for me to imagine that they will all be reached within my lifetime. But, when I turn on the evening news broadcasts (a rarity for me these days) and see the state that not only our country is in, but the world in general, I get a sense that things have never been worse. So many have turned their backs on God, or worse, seek ways to pervert Him into something that conforms to their personal situations. Whether it’s LGBTQ, agnostics, atheists or those who commit horrific, hate-filled acts, claiming falsely that they do them in His name, the stories seem to get worse and worse. Then the media and even government officials come out and defend their actions in order to support what I believe is their hidden agenda to overthrow the government of this, our beloved, country.

It’s almost more than I can stand. There is so much hate spoken in the name of “social justice”, so much repression of what is good in the name of “political correctness” (this phrase makes me want to retch). The false narrative of “income inequality” and “redistribution of wealth” meant only to placate those who exist only as parasites on government assistance programs when they are more than capable of adding to our country’s wealth rather than sponging off it, thereby taking much needed support away from those who legitimately need it!

I can’t speak for any of you, but I will never rely on my government for anything as much as I will rely on my Heavenly Father, His Son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit for my everyday needs! He has done a much better job with the past eleven years of my life since I learned to trust Him than I ever did with the first forty-two!

Whew!

I know that there are some of you who will disagree with at least some portion that I’ve written here and, believe it or not, that’s a good thing! We are allowed to disagree and we can still love each other! I’m just a guy who has an outlet, via this forum, for his thoughts unlike that of the majority of us. I don’t apologize for my words, but I also don’t claim to be right. These are just my opinions. What I know above all, is that we must do everything that we do in love. There should be zero judgement in our hearts against those whom we are here to spread the Word to. We cannot discriminate against anyone for any reason as an excuse not to treat them as they truly are, our brothers and sisters in Christ, despite whatever outward appearance they display. We must always remember that even the worst of them have been led astray by the enemy, the deceiver, Satan. They can’t help that fact that they have been living in an environment of hate any more than we can take credit for our blessing of being children of the Most High God! We have had the benefit of hearing His Word from someone who was willing to step out on a ledge, risking rejection and scorn, for no better reason than that they just want us to experience God’s blessing too! They wanted to spread His Word because that’s what He told them, and us, to do.

Recently, the men in my Bible study have been asked to contemplate what we might do if we were faced with the knowledge that we had 24 hours left in this life. Would we indulge in worldly things? Would we witness our experience of the Word to others? Who is important enough for us to share the Gospel with? But here’s what I’d like to ask you: What if you knew that the Rapture was going to happen in 24 hours?

Where will you be?

The battle is on!

 Ephesians 6:10-18 and 2 Chronicles 7:14.

 

G. J. Fortier is a member of IronMen Ministries and of First Baptist Church, Centerville, Georgia. Look for his book, Mirrored Man: The Rob Tyler Chronicles, Book 1 available on Amazon for Kindle and at www.smashwords.com. Or visit his website at www.mirroredman.com. Coming soon! Reflections of the Mirrored Man: The Rob Tyler Chronicles book 2.