Paving the Way With Strength

“If you are not dead, you are not done.” – Pastor Michael M. Cook

God has something for you. Regardless of failures and setbacks, greatness awaits the man who pursues it.

Wrapping up the Manology sermon series in Judges 16, Pastor Michael M. Cook shared what men can do to live in the strength God has given them.

Samson made one mistake after another, creating immense stress in his life. He ignored all warning signs and never took corrective action to be the man God had set him apart to be.

How does this happen? How does a man find himself on a path of brokenness and struggle? The answer is one bad choice at a time. Failure isn’t usually a one and done mistake. It is gradual and ongoing in smaller increments.

Failure inevitably creeps into every life. What happens with that is what makes the difference. It takes great courage to ask God for strength, for one more chance to set things on the right path. We see Samson ask God for one more chance when he brings down the temple, destroying countless Philistines.

Failure is not final. John 10:10 reminds us that Satan would have us think so, but sometimes God’s greatest work comes through our greatest failures.

Do something different. Take corrective action today. Don’t just hope for things to be different.

“We cannot become what we need by remaining what we are. If you don’t change the direction you are going, you’ll likely end up where you are headed.” – Michael M. Cook

Great men pursue greatness every day. Live a life filled with integrity. Be faithful to the Lord. Sadly, Samson waited his entire life to seek God as he should. What are you doing today to pursue the greatness God has laid out for your life?

Listen to the podcast here and learn more about what it means to be a man of God.



Man’s Greatest Vulnerability

What is man’s greatest vulnerability? Woman.

It transcends background, socioeconomic status, education level, belief in God and culture. Man’s attraction to a woman is a wonderful God-given thing, but when it goes unmanaged issues quickly arise.

Our culture baits and begs us as men with out-of-bounds temptation. Those temptations can bring affairs, strip clubs, pornography, prostitution and addiction into our lives. Sexual mistakes are hard to bounce back from and derail us from living out our full purpose for God. This temptation has been around throughout all generations.

The Manology sermon series continued with more on Samson. (Listen to the podcast here.) Despite his flaws and mistakes, God still wanted to see him succeed. God desires the same for us. He designed us to be men and women of strength. Vulnerabilities put us at serious risk, but we can do something to protect ourselves.

Samson’s greatest vulnerability was always a woman. Every time we see him get into trouble, he is somewhere he shouldn’t be with a woman he shouldn’t have been with. Samson ends up bound, in prison because of his inability to see the vulnerability of his situation. In Judges 16, Samson finds himself no longer able to escape the consequences of his sin.

How can men protect themselves? Set boundaries in your life.

Creating borders will provide the restraints and limitations we need to keep us from the danger zone. Boundaries shouldn’t be set right at the edge. We need a margin to stop us when we push beyond the limits of those restraints.

Pastor Michael Cook laid out four clear areas to set boundaries that provide protection from the danger zone.
1. Never be alone with the opposite sex. We must guard against any emotional spark or temptation. Think of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. He got out of there so quickly even his coat was left behind. Don’t wait until there’s an issue. Set your boundaries in daily life. Even in your work, don’t be alone with the opposite sex regardless of meetings or projects.
2. Don’t confide in a member of the opposite sex. Sexuality is always emotional. It fires up the connection.
3. Install an internet filter. Put it on everything. Pornography will always leave you empty and often addicted. The ramifications are devastating in a marriage.
4. If you feel your heart drifting, tell someone. In the midst of a struggle, we need to share it with someone. It helps face the challenge and holds us accountable.

Single or married, being disciplined in these areas can make all the difference in a man’s life. Boundaries keep us from falling over the edge and keep us from being bound and in prison. The impact is immediate as well as enhancing future relationships.

Sin always comes to light. Either we bring it to light or God will. Samson’s vulnerability for women went unchecked for twenty-one years. Maybe he thought he was beyond consequences. God could have exposed him whenever he wanted to.

If you find yourself in the danger zone, God may be giving you a unique opportunity to go a new direction on your own right now. God is never absent. He is patient and slow to anger. Do something about it today. Reset your boundaries and be honest with those in your life. Meaningful relationships are worth tremendous investment.

God loves you too much to leave you in your sin. – Michael M. Cook

Common Mistakes Men Make

By Kevin Polich

Common mistakes men make stem from allowing impulses to drive their behavior. As men, we see something we want and we take it. What feels good in the moment is often our undoing.

We can learn much from Samson and his inability to control his behavior. Have you ever read through the story of Samson from start to finish, letting it soak in? Read Judges 13-16 here.

Samson’s impulses continued to be his undoing. You can listen to the sermon series, Manology, via podcast here.

Pastor Michael M. Cook detailed four major mistakes that come when we are driven by our impulses. (From Judges 14-15.) Lust gets us in trouble. Samson wanted the Philistine woman regardless of anything else. We disregard advice from those we trust. Samson ignored the warnings of his parents. When we disregard the advice of the believers in our life, we are in great danger. Drunkenness brings nothing that improves of builds up a man’s life. Samson made a huge wager while under the influence. Anger is destructive. Samson blamed everyone else for his problems. His anger and revenge became a cycle that went on and on. He tried to justify it when he should have taken responsibility.

“When as men are we going to rise up and take responsibility for the choices we make?” – Michael M. Cook

Think about those “Why did you do that?” moments. It’s defeating when we’ve blown it. What can we do to live the way we should? Here are three things to help us be the men God has called us to be.

  1. Resolve to do what is right. James 4:17 Is there an area in your life where you know what you ought to be doing, but you aren’t doing it right?
  1. Don’t be afraid to cry out to God. Samson cried out and God revived him. It seems crazy, but how many times has God met me in my troubles? Despite his destructive ways, God still gave Samson new opportunities.
  1. Remember where God will meet you. God meets us in our brokenness, not in our pride.

There is hope for every man. God can build us into the men we should be. We must seek Him and trust Him. We must be willing to cry out to Him in our brokenness. Moving beyond the common mistakes men make, we can be more and live a life of freedom.


The Potential in Every Man

By Kevin Polich

Potential is God’s gift to us in our lives. What we do with it is our gift back to Him. – Michael M. Cook

Every man is given an incredible amount of potential. Pastor Michael M. Cook began his Manology sermon series on Sunday. This series is an opportunity for us as men to be intentional about who God wants us to be. It’s a chance to do better and be more. It’s may also be a tough few weeks to spark growth.

Pastor Cook gave us four God-given gifts that set the standard for living out our potential. (Listen to the podcast here.)

You are set apart to do great things for God. (Judges 13:1-5) God has given each of us special skills and has a purpose for us. It isn’t the same for each of us, yet we are prone to comparing ourselves to others. Where do I measure up? Those comparisons can take a toll on a man’s self-image.

God measures differently. He looks at who He made us to be and His potential.

You have great parents. (Judges 13:8) Parents are significant and set the standard. Regardless of good or bad parents, God’s potential isn’t hindered. A rough background can motivate us to give better than we got. Solid parents give us a solid start. It’s still our own actions that matter.

You have a great name. (Judges 13:24) Samson ruined his great name and blocked his potential. As a man, name and reputation is valuable. If your name is tarnished, get to the business of restoring it.

You have a clear direction in life. (Judges 13:5) Living with intention? If things are not going well, it may not be an issue of time, but an issue of priority. We each choose how we will react in every situation. What matters most and has top priority in your life?

As Pastor Cook discussed, men exist with a level of fragility. There is a quiet fear of failure that tugs at our core. But it shouldn’t define us. When we seek God’s potential, there is nothing to fear, yet it doesn’t always feel like that way. Am I making a difference and anywhere near my potential? God has set each of us apart but sometimes the question remains, “For what?”.

“Even if he can’t put words to it, every man is quietly haunted by the questions, ‘Am I really a man and have I got what it takes’”? – John Eldridge from Wild at Heart

This sermon series may be the spark that sets a fire for us to discover our potential. Are you ready for more?




By Pastor Michael M. Cook

Starting this Sunday morning, November 13th, we will begin a man-focused sermon series called MANOLOGY. For a number of years, the American family has witnessed a larger and larger decrease in the central male figure in the typical household. Statistics only touch the surface of the monumental challenges this causes in our society.
• 23.6% of US children (17.4 million) lived in father absent homes in 2014. US Census Bureau, 2015

• In 2011, children living in female-headed homes with no spouse present had a poverty rate of 47.6%.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services 2012

• Disengaged and remote interactions of fathers with infants is a predictor of early behavior problems in children and can lead to externalizing behaviors in children as early as age one.
Ramchandani, P. G., Domoney, J., Sethna, V., Psychogiou, L., Vlachos, H. and Murray, L. (2013) Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 54, 56–64.
• According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of children with an incarcerated father grew 79% between 1991 and 2007.
Glaze, L.E., & Maruschak, L.M. (2010). Parents in prison and their minor children. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Stats.

The good news after reviewing these alarming trends is that God has a clear plan that can successfully be followed and achieved. The men I visit with on a weekly basis desire to be a positive influence in societal, marital and parental responsibilities. They have a heart to do so, yet most are lacking the skills and direction to make it happen.

I want to encourage all of our men not miss a single Sunday through mid-December. Each of the next four weeks will contain powerful, scriptural information concerning a man’s potential, his greatest vulnerability, his common mistakes and hidden strengths.

Pray for a great result from this power packed series. I look forward to seeing each of you as we take part in Manology.