We’ve Got to Get off the Fence!
by Bax Kegans
Here’s my experience … Hands Across America, May 15, 1986 was the event. I climbed on a school bus from Leonard High School in Leonard, Texas bound for Greenville, 20 miles away. There we’d gather with millions of others to make our connection to the human chain, to raise money for starving kids in Africa and to fight homelessness. In a seat alone on that bus, I made my confession of faith to God that day.
“If you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
Fast forward to January 1994. I made the big move to Baton Rouge and landed my first job as an inside salesperson at J.M. Tull Metals Co. I married my college sweetheart, Kimen Stewart, and joined her at Florida Boulevard Baptist Church for worship. As a Christian, I had everything – a beautiful wife, decent job and a church where I could worship.
As a Christian, I tried to maintain certain qualities – good manners, sharp appearance, faithful church attendance, and a grasp of the church language so I could relate to anyone who was outwardly sold out for Christ. The downside of being a Christian in sales and still sitting on the fence was that I hadn’t truly made Jesus Lord of my life.
If a customer liked to drink and stay out late, I would hang with them, keeping my language clean, but sometimes ending up in places I knew I shouldn’t be, all for the sake of the networking opportunities. Because of this, my witness for Christ suffered. My walk with the Lord was compartmentalized. I was a Sunday, (sometimes Wednesday) only Christian checking my boxes and keeping a good outward appearance. That would all begin to change in August of 2000.
Dr. Jim Shaddix was our interim pastor, and I can’t remember the scripture or the title of his sermon, but I do know that he challenged us to lay all of the sin we were still slaves to at the altar that day. By this time my wife and I had been blessed with our daughter Kaylyn Grace, now 2, and I was moved by the Holy Spirit to go down to the altar to kneel and pray. It was on that day that I asked God to free me from my desire to be all things to all people and to serve Him alone. It was also on that day that I began seeking to become a Christian salesman instead of a salesman
who was a Christian. I took the leap off the fence. I committed to “daily deny myself and follow” Jesus (Luke 9:23) in everything I did. It is still a daily exercise 17 years later.
As I began to walk closer with the Lord, a retired chemical industry executive, John Wayne Hudson, engaged me at church and invited me to join him at his home for breakfast. He had invited several young married men from our church to join him and it was in this setting that I was introduced to men’s ministry. I witnessed and experienced Proverbs 27:17 and James 5:16 being lived out for God’s glory.
Through John’s encouragement and the bond we developed in Christ, our group and others in the church became more intentional in daily reading and the studying of God’s Word. I began connecting with other believers during the week. Through this group, I began to overcome the sins that had been in my life for years. This intentional living for Christ and studying His Word with other men made certain scriptures come alive:
“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11 ESV)
“Iron sharpens iron, as one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17 ESV)
“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)
“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28 ESV)
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25-33 ESV)
That is my story. So how can you apply this to your life? Once you are off the fence and begin to deny yourself daily and follow Jesus, you are ready to live out Matthew 28:18-20.
1) In your home … Begin each day with prayer. My friend Todd Nevils says he rolls right out of bed and on to his knees before doing anything else each morning. Read a chapter of Proverbs or have a daily devotional.* If you are married or have kids, make it a point to spend time with them daily in prayer, read the Bible, or lead them through a daily devotional. It is tough to get it started, but they will love you for it.
My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, Daily Audio Bible or other online devotionals can be sent daily to your inbox or your phone.
2) In your church … Pray for your pastor, who is the God-appointed shepherd of your church. He needs to know that there are men who love and support him as he seeks to lead his own family … that you are praying for him as he seeks a message in God’s Word … that you are ready to follow him as he follows Christ.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for all people.” (1 Timothy 2:1 ESV)
Join or lead a men’s Bible study or small group. You will not only learn more about God and His Word, but God will connect you with other men who will encourage you as you begin to share life together. If you don’t have a men’s group, start one. Like Jesus and His disciples, every local church needs a network of strong men’s small groups to “make disciples.”
A great resource to use for men’s ministry is pastorprayerteam.com. If you have questions about starting a men’s ministry in your church, contact me or Gulf South Men at gulfsouthmen.org. You can also contact Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s Conferences, a network of regional men’s ministries (ironsharpensiron.net) that can help you mobilize men age 13 and up to attend together and be equipped to serve the Lord and strengthen your local church.
3) In Your work … I’d never thought about ministering to men in the marketplace until I was invited to a breakfast by my friend, Trent Sumrall of Blum Enterprises. Trent’s friends were from contracting firms that managed projects for the local petrochemical industry and other suppliers like myself. As we met for breakfast the first Friday of the month, we encouraged one another in our walk with the Lord – as husbands, fathers, church leaders, and fellow laborers in industry. We felt the need
to call our group Christians under Construction. We still meet monthly at Frank’s in Prairieville. (Acts 2:42)
As you assemble a network of Christian men, stay in touch with them periodically to encourage them and be available for them to contact you if they need someone to pray with. God’s Word is clear for us to “be sober-minded: be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour ..” (1 Peter 5:6-11)
Christian Business Men’s Connection, CbMC, cbmc.com > Local groups throughout the U.S. and 95 other countries, plus online resources.
Oilfield Christian Fellowship, OCF, oilfieldchristianfellowship.com > This is a great place to invite customers and connect them to Christ.
Industry of Faith Louisiana, industryoffaithla.com > Led by Dan Vallot, this group meets once a month.
Bethany Businessmen’s Luncheon, bethany.com > This group meets the first Wednesday of the month at noon near Siegen Lane and I-10.
The Gathering of Men > Led by Dr. Rodney Wood, this group meets every Thursday at First Baptist Church downtown.
Men’s Unity Breakfast, kingdomgroup.co > Led by brother Elmo Winters, this group meets at different churches each fourth Saturday of the month.