False Advertising

Article by Paul Stiver

I graduated from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities with a degree in Strategic Communication, aka Advertising. Since I graduated in 2009, I’ve never worked a job in advertising or any related field. I do not use my degree. However, I do use the things I learned while acquiring my degree, especially on the communication side. And I still remember some of my education. I’ve been reminiscing on a particular idea from the world of advertising. When you are advertising a product, you are selling someone on the idea of a future version of their life.

Advertising sells you a future you, a future life. The product advertised is the means by which you can become this “better” future you. Car and cologne ads are notorious for selling a better “future life.” But so many products do this.

Let’s look at “The Most Interesting Man in The World” by Dos Equis beer as an example of this concept. We all know these ads, the cool old guy tells us, “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.” Typically, the cool old man tells us his preference for Dos Equis while surrounded by beautiful young women who are hanging on his every word. Earlier in the commercial we have seen the man have some cool and desirable experiences throughout his lifetime.

Below the surface the advertisement is communicating these messages:

“Drink Dos Equis beer and you too will be a more interesting and desirable man. Your life will be fulfilling because it will have fascinating experiences and a slew of conquests. You will be the kind of mature, rugged man that women can’t resist, all because you drink Dos Equis.”

We know this isn’t true. If we drink Dos Equis beer, our life won’t change in these ways (nor should we want it to). But the message is telling us that this could be our “future self.” In latent ways, Dos Equis is not selling us a beer, but a new future life. We know that this is silly. Dos Equis beer won’t give us some new, cooler life but we bite on the advertising anyway.

This is how sin works. Sin sells us a new future life. Sin sells us a life with greater happiness, less stress, and more control. Sin lies to us and deceives us from the truth.

Sin tells us that the future life we will have as a result of committing the sin will be better than life God wants for us.

We see this pattern in Scripture in Genesis 3 when we look at the Fall of Man. 

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” -Genesis 3:1-6 (ESV)


The serpent advertises the fruit of the tree to Eve. He deceptively compels her, “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 

Eve starts to believe that she is lacking something – that God is “holding out” on her. Before this point, she was unconcerned about the fruit of the tree, for all her needs were met. 

“The tree was to be desired to make one wise.” How does Eve even come to the opinion that the tree was ‘to be desired?’ The lie of the serpent is creating an imagined need. Eve now desires to be this new “Future Eve,” where she has eaten the fruit and has acquired the desired wisdom. The serpent’s lie is now penetrating her mind more than the truth of God’s word, and as a result, she sins. Eve believes that the future life she will have by committing the sin will be better than what God has in store for her. 

This is an all too familiar pattern of sin. We start to believe that the future life we can have by committing the sin is going to be better than the life God has for us. For me this comes out in my struggle with the sin of overeating and poor bodily stewardship. I start to believe that a “future life” where I can eat a whole pizza and bag of chips will be better life than my current life with a salad and modest meal. I end up sinning and am left ashamed of my decision and asking for God’s forgiveness.

For others this might be the pattern they experience with pornography and masturbation, believing the lie that “men have needs,” more than the truth that God’s grace is sufficient. (2 Cor. 9:8) Maybe it’s the future life promised by financial security that causes someone to walk out of line with God’s will. Whatever it may be, sin promises us a future life which it can’t deliver on, and we end up separated from God and feeling ashamed, just like Adam and Eve. 

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” -Genesis 3:8-10 (ESV)

 

How do we resist the deception of sin that promises us a better future life?

  1. We remember the good news of the gospel that Jesus Christ has set us free from the law of sin and death.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24 ESV)

 

  1. We remember that we have received the Holy Spirit and His immeasurable power. (Ephesians 1:13, 19, 3:20)

 

  1. We remind ourselves that God’s grace is sufficient. 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV)

 

  1. We give thanks to God. Thankfulness to God will always combat the lie of a better future without God. 

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV)

 

  1. We live in community and bear one another’s burdens.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16 ESV)

 

  1. We rely on our faith and hope in God.  

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; (Ephesians 6:16 ESV)

 

  1. We protect our hearts with God’s word and we pray. 

and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, (Ephesians 6:17-18 ESV)

 

  1. We live in the hope of glory knowing that we have peace with God. 

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1 ESV)

 

  1. We remember that God is good and He is for us. 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)

 

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32 ESV)

 

  1. We remember that God’s future is better than we can even imagine. 

No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:3-5 ESV)

 

Let’s rely on the truth of God’s word to help us fight the false advertising of sin. Let’s be as N.T. Wright says, “future people,” focused on living out God’s will in every aspect of our lives for the sake of His glory and the coming of His kingdom!

 

Rest More, Kill More Sin: Your Summer Guide to Doing Less

Article by: Aaron Shaw, 6/21/2016

I’ll be the first to say that summer is one is my favorite seasons. When we turn the corner from rainy 40 degree spring to that first 60 degree day with nothing but sunshine, I’m the first one to throw on a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, and grab my shades and drive into work with the windows down, sunroof open, and music cranked up a bit louder than normal.

I grew up wedged between the ocean and 11,000 foot snow-capped mountains in Oregon. Traditionally people ask me two questions about Oregon: “Is Portland as weird as everyone says it is?” (The answer is a resounding yes) and “Does is rain a lot?”  Yes. It rained it a ton. Almost 300 days of rain a year. We lived about a half hour from the ocean and we would frequent the beach a lot. However because it’s Oregon, half of the times we were there it was cloudy, 50, and misty. It made it less appealing to surf, skim board, or take a jaunt through the water. Instead, you’d throw on a North face fleece, grab your Starbucks coffee, an REI beanie, take a short walk, grab a shell or two, and turn around and head back.

Now that I live in Minnesota I experience more sunshine than I ever have. I did give up my oceans and my mountain adventures, but in turn I got more sunshine, great friends, and was introduced to the delightful season of road construction. Maybe the last one isn’t something I’m super thrilled about, but nonetheless, I enjoy having more sunshine available in Minnesota than in Oregon. Summer is a great time to hang out, be with friends, and even spend a weekend at the cabin. Yet, for me summer can also mean that I’m preoccupied more with the sunny weather than I am with my Bible. In years past, summer becomes my playground for hammocking, beach volleyball, late night DQ runs, and bike rides as far as my legs can go. Even though I’m not married and have the time to do whatever I want whenever I want, there’s still an obligation and responsibility that I believe we as men (and women too) must hold up and exalt above our preferences of a leisurely summer with loosened responsibility. Except, I’m not advocating for anyone to do more stuff. In fact, my plea is that we do less.

With the departure of winter and the summer months now in full swing (or 4 months of bad sledding if you choose to look at it like that) we have more sunlight, more outside freedom, and traditionally (for some) more free time. The refreshing nature of summer comes at a time where we need time to recuperate from the crazy fall, winter, and spring. But some of us use that extra daylight or extra free time to do more stuff. I was convicted many times this past month by multiple people, and then God, for not resting well this past year. I hardly took a day to myself or structured in more than a few minutes to myself in a given day. From 6am to 11pm, I was always doing something. Sabbath became somewhat of a foreign concept. It can sound really productive or give a vibe that showcases my “importance”, but overall it is not good.

It’s actually sin.

Not truly resting in God and taking time to become refreshed (like God was AFTER the 7th day in Genesis 2) is pride. It’s saying that we don’t need to take the time to slow down, make time, and commune with the Father. I know we are all busy people with schedules, agendas, people to provide for, and children to take care of. But I still think it’s fascinating that the first thing God makes Holy throughout the creation in Genesis is not people, is not the Earth, however, is time. God ordains time to be Holy.

So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” -Genesis 2:3, NIV

If God makes time Holy, it must be important. I think that if we lack in understanding the importance of time and the depth to which God desires us to come to Him for rest, we miss a large part of who God is. If God rested after creating the universe, how much more do you believe we need to rest? Personally, I’ve taken this to heart and found myself much more joyful, satisfied, and refreshed. Yet I didn’t achieve this by simply adding in spiritual disciplines like in prayer or Bible reading on top of my current life. Instead I started to cut my social time, spend less time on my phone/computer, wake up earlier, work less than 50 hours a week, start to say ‘no’ to certain opportunities, and start to value my time with God. I made it a priority to actually do less stuff. In turn, I forged for myself 2 hours a day in my schedule where I don’t do anything with anyone and make that time I would spend with God. Whether I’m painting, reading, praying, listening to worship songs, or going for a solo walk to Stone Arch Bridge, the 2 hours of “God time” I’ve made has been nearly revolutionary. In the New Interpreters Bible Commentary about the Sabbath in Exodus, Walter Brueggemann explained the necessity of rest:

“How is it that a covenantal work stoppage (Sabbath) bears witness to this self disclosing God? The answer is given in the motivational clause: Israel rests because God rests.  This God [YHWH] is not a workaholic. Yahweh has no need to be more secure, more sufficient, more in control, or more noticed. It is ordained in the very fabric of creation that the world is not a place of endless productivity, ambition, or anxiety.”

God wove rest into the very fabric of our creation. Trying to be productive all the time deters the ability to seek God, feel God, know God, and ultimately abandons our ability to truly be image bearers of God. If God rested, so shall we. To deny this is to deny the essence and nature of God and thus undermines Him by our attempts to exalt our time, desires for production and consumption above God’s ordained requirement to be still and know who He is. Walter Brueggemann continued,

“The work stoppage on the Sabbath- the breaking of the vicious cycle of production and consumption is a sign for all the world to see.”

This is the true meaning of rest in Christ Jesus our Lord and King- that we may not seek His will in hopes to perform and please Him, but that we rest and be filled. That we all quietly retreat to commune with the Father in simply just being. If we are stressed out, busy, finding our time slipping away from us, or losing grips with our spiritual compass, taking some time to rest could be the greatest gift God has offered us. Through rest I know we find our ultimate joy, ultimate satisfaction, and supreme direction for our lives: to know God, to be known by God, and to love God! To take time to be away from working, people, and school can free our minds to be with God. To put a stop to our work or play, sit before God, listen, pray, and worship gives God glory. God fills us when we come to Him. We are not human doings, we are human beings. Thus, we should embrace our existence of “being” and be.

“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!” -Psalm 46:10, ESV

Canvas of Impossibility

Article by: Michael Bolland, March 23rd, 2016


 

 

I’m not sure I know anyone who, when it comes to a desired success, puts themselves intentionally in a position where their likelihood decreases.

I was always taught to set myself up well for success.

With education, I was told that in order to get a job and live a sustainable life, I needed to get training and knowledge in the field that I would go into.

With athletics, I was told that I needed to prepare at the highest level and in the smartest way possible leading up to a game or competition to put myself in the best position to win.

With finances, especially as a 23 year-old, I’m told to invest and delegate my money wisely to set myself up well for later in life.

With health, the message is that the better I take care of myself in my youth, the more likely my older years are to be full of good health.

These are good teachings, and I would stand strongly by any of them; however, this concept stands completely in contrast with the means to which God displays His sovereign character.

 “Who is like the Lord our God,

the One who sits enthroned on high,

who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?”

(Ps 113:5-6)

John Eldredge, in his book Wild at Heart, mentions something profound about the nature of God: “It’s not the nature of God to limit his risks and cover his bases. Far from it. Most of the time, he actually lets the odds stack up against him.” As examples, Eldredge brings up David against Goliath as well as God’s victorious reduction of Gideon’s army from 32,000 to 300. Then, Eldredge goes on asking us to consider God’s plan to spread the Gospel: “It’s not just a batlle or two that God takes his chances with either. Have you thought about his handling of the gospel? God needs to get a message out to the human race, without which they will perish forever. What’s the plan? First, he starts with the most unlikely group ever: a couple prostitutes, a few fisherman with no better than a second-grade education, and a tax collector. Then, well, he passes the ball to us!” This is nothing short of incredible, and it touches on my point that I’d like to make about God: God doesn’t display His character on the back-drop of the slightly improbable, but upon the canvas of the seemingly impossible. As we look back and see His mastery, we are left to think nothing else but that God had to be responsible. Consider Jesus’ explanation of the kingdom of God from Mark 4:30-32: “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on the earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

Seeing the “largest of all” knowing that it bloomed from the “smallest of all” prompts us to believe that God’s hand had to be over this transformation. God is uniquely capable of taking the smallest, weakest, most frail, and seemingly useless and turning it into the largest, strongest, most sustainable, and most powerful of things. Furthermore, Jesus couldn’t have been more right in his description of the kingdom of God because from what seemed like only handful of pestering Jews, God built an unstoppable worldwide movement called the church of Jesus Christ.

Gamaliel, a Pharisee, in Acts 5:38-39, said: 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God. The origin of the gospel being spread is obviously significant to God. He wanted to make sure that there was nothing left in question as to how His message was being moved forth.

Was this message of human origin or was it from God Himself? The nature of men who were God’s messengers—“unschooled and ordinary”—did the opposite of disprove the message’s claimed origin: it actually enhanced the evidence. As I look back and think about the mustard seed of an origin that Christianity had and sift my memory across the face of its history, I’m left in awe of Him who painted and orchestrated it all.

Who among the gods

is like you, Lord?

Who is like you—

majestic in holiness,

awesome in glory,

working wonders?

(Exodus 15:11)

God has been painting a picture of His glory for a long time in the face of the impossible—quite literally, He always has been. Upon the canvas of dark nothingness, the Creator breathed Creation into existence:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (Gen 1:1-2)

Then, God invited us to do what he always has been doing: displaying His majesty as a God who lives in glory, love, perfection, and complete satisfaction in Himself:

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Gen 1:27)

John Piper put it well when he said: “He made humans in His image to image something, namely Himself. So, our existence is about showing God’s existence, or specifically God’s glory. Which, I think, means God’s manifold perfection: the radiance, the display, the streaming out of his many colored, beautiful perfections.”

However, it wasn’t long before the fabric tore; we chose to give ourselves a different purpose. Instead of being a lighthouse that properly let ships know of the shore, we decided that it was better off that ships kept their attention on us.

*Crash*

Imagine a puzzle strewn about the room—some pieces hidden, some upside down, some bent, some scratched. There’s no way we can tell what the puzzle was supposed to display. We need to be found, turned right side up, bent back, and painted upon what has been scratched off! There’s something missing to this story though, and I want you to feel it.

Forgive me, but I’m asking you to empathize with puzzle pieces:

The pieces hidden are those lost in darkness without a Light to illuminate their purpose.

The pieces upside down are those without an eye to their Conductor to know what to sing.

The pieces bent are those without Aid to walk straight and upright.

The pieces scratched are those marred without a Healing Touch.

Collectively, the puzzle is us—helpless, out of tune, lost, purposeless, and needy. It is in this void that we taste once again our God’s glorious artistry:

“‘Who then can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)

It is the greatest relief to all mankind that God interacts with us in our incapabilities. In the case of salvation, this is a particularly precious intervention. Though we departed from our honorable and privileged purpose of imaging God to live in the feebleness of self-glorification, God graciously grants us an offering of a redemptive return to fulfillment of our purposeful existence. This return, which was impossible for us, was made possible through Jesus Christ. We were dead, so He died that we might rise with Him and be born again into the purpose God had for us since the beginning.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Romans 8:28-29)


Written by Michael Bolland. Michael attends Hope and is involved with the Men of Hope ministry. Michael is an intern with Athletes in Action, a ministry of Cru that focuses on athletes and discipleship. He graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2015 with a degree in Mathematics. He currently lives in Minneapolis.

Find Michael on Facebook: Michael Bolland

Welcome to the NEW Men of Hope Website and Blog

Welcome to Men of Hope

We invite you to use this site to get to know Men of Hope, stay updated on current MoH events, and interact with our community through the blog.

“Men of Hope exists to connect the men of our community with one another, to help them comprehend what it means to be a Gospel man, and to challenge them to follow Christ in all areas of their life.”

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Brothers, it is our desire to connect with each other in order to strengthen and encourage, so that we are not so easily entangled in sin. More importantly, we want to journey together in the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Christ, so that we will not grow weary and lose heart. All the while, seeking to greater comprehend Christ, his work on the cross, and His unparalleled love for us and the world.

As Hope continues to grow it becomes increasingly more difficult to stay connected and feel like you are a part of the larger community. It’s harder to find opportunities for genuine conversation and connection with other guys. We hope that this website and blog will be a step in the right direction and provide an accessible platform for us to connect with each other and have some of those conversations.

“I love to read, discuss theology, keep up on current events, figure out how my faith can be applied to my cultural context, and laugh at crazy stuff on the web. I am addicted to playing board games and following sports. I love my wife and want to learn how to lead my family well. I want to help people get to know their Savior, either for the first time or with greater intimacy than they could have imagined. I believe that life is an adventure and I hope that this website/blog is one small way that we will get to journey together.” -Joey

“I came to Hope by accident. It was the closest church I could walk to during the winter during college. 3 years later, I found myself interning at Hope and involved with all kinds of ministries. I have a passion for men’s ministry, discipleship, worship, theology, and simply getting to know people more than their names and professions. At 22, I’m still considered to be young in the church world. However, I’ve found that I can connect with many men here at the church despite my age. My hope is to help connect more men who are both inside and outside of the church with God. To be able to seek the supremacy, the majesty, and the incomprehensible love of God together is my dream. Taking on the blog is an honor, a privilege, and a joy. I pray this blog and website acts as an exalting force for God’s name and brings us together under His ultimate grace.” -Aaron

This blog is for the Men of Hope: the college students, working professionals, dads, and everyone in between. We are men who desire to know our calling in the Kingdom. Through struggle or victory, we faithfully exalt God in all we do. We value friendship, authenticity, truth, encouragement, and worship. We see this blog as a chance for men to share their stories to build each other up, and praise God for the work He is doing.

We hope you enjoy it!
Joey Kalan and Aaron Shaw

Fishes And Loaves Part 3

basket

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus immediately follows the feeding of the five thousand by asking his disciples a question. “Who do you say that I am?” This did a coincidence. To use a sport’s analogy, this is an uncontested layup. “All right guys, I just miraculously fed a multitude in the desert. Who am I?” To his credit, Simon Peter gets the answer right. “You are the Christ of God.” Continue reading “Fishes And Loaves Part 3”

Easter Is Over, But I’m Still Learning About It

easter fun

I love discovering the unique and often bizarre origins of common words. For example, did you know that the word snob was originally used to refer to shoemakers or apprentice shoemakers? Or that goodbye is a shortened form of the old prayer “God be with you”? Or that Jumbo was most likely originally a word for elephant in a west African language? Recently I stumbled across the roots of a common Christian word, and it gave me a renewed admiration for Easter. Continue reading “Easter Is Over, But I’m Still Learning About It”

Fishes And Loaves Part 2

MosaicLoavesFish

When the disciples encountered a hungry assembly in Luke 9, it was not the people who were grumbling but the disciples themselves. Crowds had followed Jesus to Bethsaida (literally, “the house of fish”), a town along the Upper Jordan River, near the Sea of Galilee. Luke says that Jesus welcomed the crowd, speaking of the Kingdom of God and healing everyone who needed healing – that is, He addressed both the spiritual and physical needs of those who came to Him. But in the late afternoon, His twelve apostles apparently needed a break, so they asked Jesus to disperse the crowd. “We are in a desert place. Send them away so they can get food and lodging.”

“You give them something to eat,” Jesus replied. Continue reading “Fishes And Loaves Part 2”

Fishes And Loaves Part 1

desrt

When the Hebrew nation found themselves wandering the desert in Exodus 16, they were only about one month removed from their escape from Egypt, an adventure replete with a miraculous crossing of the Red Sea and pillars of cloud and fire acting as their personal vanguards. They went without water as they crossed through the desert Shur. They quickly found themselves running out of food, and so they grumbled. Continue reading “Fishes And Loaves Part 1”

Immanuel. A Story Of Adoption: My Daughters And Mine

dad mug

“You coming back”, is the normal response from our youngest daughter when I leave the house – or sometimes just the room. There is a very real fear in our girls that people will leave for good. They survived much of their lives connecting to people and having those people leave them. It’s a normal cycle of connecting and disconnecting and at this point they are understandably afraid that my wife Kelly and I will leave. This is one of the places where we established a kind of mantra in our house. Continue reading “Immanuel. A Story Of Adoption: My Daughters And Mine”