Nice Guys Finish First Psalm 1


Growing up I used to collect baseball cards—remember those? I can still to this day see myself opening up one of those Fleer packs of baseball cards with the stick of pink gum, and popping it in my mouth. I’d immediately start scrolling through the cards to find any special players—you know the one’s with the highest batting averages, most homeruns and All Star appearances—these were the most valuable. When I’d find one of these special successful players, I’d pull them out and put them in a designated plastic sleeve in one of my baseball card notebooks. Those notebooks filled with special players was my prized possession (until my mother threw it out thinking it was worthless while I was out at college…no I’m not bitter). I spent hour after hour flipping through those notebooks with the special players, idolizing them. Looking back, while I’d do well emulating their performance on the field, I wouldn’t want to mimic many of their characters. For many, these special ball players were great performers, but not the best people.

Creating the Need
You know the problem with our society is we tend to place a higher price tag on performance than we do integrity. We live in a world where people are enamored with achievements, accolades and accomplishments, yet not as impressed with character. As the old saying goes, “Nice guys finish last.” Our text—Psalm 1—says something vastly different, though. It actually shows us that “Nice Guys Finish First.” This Psalm presents us with a man worth emulating—a man who’s full of character. Brothers, we’d do well to cut and paste into our lives the attributes of this righteous man.

But why? Why should we be like the righteous man in our text? Psalm 1 is not a really complicated one to figure out. Just reading through the Psalm, you can see there are two kinds of men in our text—the righteous and the wicked.  Notice how the Psalmist describes the wicked man—he says they are like chaff.  Now he’s using an agricultural analogy to describe the wicked. During the winnowing process, the farmer had one goal—to separate the chaff from the wheat. He would take his winnowing fork and toss the grain into the air over and over. In that process, the heavier kernel of grain would separate from the lighter chaff and fall to the ground but, because the chaff was so light, it would fly off into the air. It didn’t have enough substance or weight to fall to the ground; it just flew off. This is interesting in how the Psalmist describes the wicked man—not much substance. Sure this brother maybe heavy when it comes to his finances, his looks and his possessions, but when it comes to things that really matter in life like character and integrity, he’s like chaff—light, no substance or weightiness.  

On the other hand is the righteous, and notice how the Psalmist describes this brother—he’s a tree. I love this imagery, and we’ll unpack it more in a few minutes, but trees are rooted, weighty masses that give life to those around them. Trees don’t just disappear like chaff. Trees aren’t here one moment and gone the next. There’s a weight to them, and they give life. That’s the righteous man. He’s weighty when it comes to his character. He gives life. Brothers we need to be like trees and not like chaff.

But Why Be Righteous?
But I still haven’t answered the question of why. Why should we men be like the righteous man in our text? The Psalmist answers this question with the very first word in our text—blessed. Why should I give myself to being like the righteous man? Because if I do, I will experience the blessed life. But what does this mean? The word blessed simply means happy, and there I’ve just lost many of you who grew up in the church, because you’ve been taught all your life that to be happy is bad. But this simply is not true. God is for our happiness, He just wants us to make sure that our happiness has the right source.

Psalm 1 has been described by many scholars as being a beatitude. Now if you’re not a Christian, you still probably have heard of this word beatitude because there’s a series of these in the most famous sermon ever given—the Sermon on the Mount. I believe Jesus had in his mind Psalm 1 as He gives the beatitudes. He says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are the pure in heart. Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.” Or to say it another way, Jesus is saying: HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY!  Shocking I know! But please notice that none of these happy statements have to do with money, possessions or even health. Jesus doesn’t say blessed is the person who drives an Audi. Or blessed is the person who has a lot of money.  Instead, most of these beatitudes end with something that points to the kingdom of God. In other words, the blessed person is the person who is living in the center of God’s will for their life, where God is their source of happiness and nothing else.

See the biggest question in life is not, “What Am I Here For,” but “Who Am I Here For?” The righteous man has figured that out. What makes him righteous is his life has answered the “who am I here for” question, by saying “it’s God,” and he now lives in total surrender to God. And when the righteous person lives in total surrender to God, he now finds himself living the blessed or happy life.  He’s happy because he walks with God and knows God is with him! To be blessed is to know I’m in the sweet spot of God’s will!

Several years ago, a buddy of mine gotta call that his wife’s water just broke and she was in labor with their first child. He zipped home, picked her up and sped down the freeway to the hospital. On his way, he saw flashing lights behind him—it was a cop. Pulling over, he immediately got his license and registration and gave it to the cop and said he was sorry but his wife was in labor and that’s why he was speeding. The cop handed the items back to him and said I don’t need those, let’s get you to the hospital. The cop now turns his lights on, calls another cop and escorts my buddy and his bride to the hospital as they were speeding. But this time, as they were speeding, my buddy wasn’t stressed or worried he was breaking the law, or was going to get pulled over.  Why? Because he had the blessing of the authorities. He knew he was in the center of their will. And so it is with the righteous man. When you are walking with God, you will live the blessed and happy life, because you know God is with you. BLESSED IS THE MAN! Oh brothers, we need to be righteous men!

We’ve answered the question as to why we should be righteous—when we do we will live the blessed life. Now let’s close with exactly how do I get to experience this blessed life? Brothers, there are only two decisions this man makes that leads to him being righteous and experiencing the blessed life. If we make these two decisions, we will be experiencing the blessed life.The first decision he makes is to have the right companions. Look at verse 1. Now I know what you’re thinking: “Wait a minute pastor. Are you saying I can’t have non-Christian friends, or have my non-Christian neighbors over for a meal?” No, not at all. Notice the words wicked, sinners and scoffers are in the plural, which speaks more to the environment, and not to the individual. Also, the words walk, stand and sit speak of someone who is joining themselves in these bad environments. What the Psalmist is warning against is hanging out by way of life in sinful environments, and the hazardous effects that can have on your life.

When I first started driving, I remember being out one night with some friends.  We had just finished dinner and were going over to one of their homes, and since I didn’t know how to get there, I was following them. I do recall they were moving pretty fast, and I was having a hard time keeping up. Finally, they get pulled over by the police, and without even thinking about it, I pull over too.

The cop says to me, “Can I help you?”

I tell him, “No I’m good, I was just following my friends.”

“Oh you were,” he said. “So that means you were speeding, too.  Sit tight, your ticket is coming.” I got a ticket that night for following people who were making bad choices.

Writing to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’”—I Corinthians 15:33. Brothers, if we are going to be righteous men, we have to start by taking inventory of our companions, and the environments we hang out in. Now on the one hand, admittedly, if I were preaching this upstairs to our youth, I’d take time right now to talk a lot about peer pressure, because that’s a real thing when you’re in high school or college.  But I’m talking to mainly adults here who I’m guessing that’s not as big of a deal. So how can we apply this?

As a general rule of thumb, men, if you want to apply Psalm 1 to your life, take inventory of your weaknesses, and weed out anyone in your life who facilitates those weaknesses. If you struggle with alcohol, don’t run with people who encourage you to drink. If drug addiction is a part of your story, don’t run with people who would encourage you to do drugs. If sexual sin is your struggle, then don’t do life with other brothers who do not hold biblical convictions when it comes to sex. Nor should you be in a relationship with anyone who would encourage you to compromise your standards in the area of sex.

Brothers, don’t just see the wicked, sinners or scoffers as other men, also see some women in this crowd who exist to bring you down by encouraging marriage infidelity and sexual promiscuity. As I pray for my sons almost daily, “God frustrate the plans of the Jezebels.” The righteous man avoids the seductive woman. This is a point PROVERBS 5:3–15 makes. Listen as I read…

The Right Companions
One more thing before I move to my last point. It’s just not good enough to avoid the wrong people, we need to run with the right people. God said of Adam that it’s not good for man to be alone. Proverbs says that he who isolates himself is a fool. In the NT the phrase “one another,” is used over a hundred times. God wants us to experience the joys of rich and meaningful and life-giving community. This is the decision the righteous man makes.

If you’re sitting outside by a fire pit and you wanted the fire in one of the logs to go out, what you would do is you’d remove it from the other logs, isolating itself, and soon enough the fire would go out. But, if you wanted to keep the fire going, what you would do is you’d make sure that log was touching other on fire logs in close community. That’s the Christian life, brother. If you want to maintain your fire for Christ, it is absolutely essential you live in close community with other on-fire-brothers for Jesus. Community is key! You have to have the right companions! And I know this is hard, men, because we are idiots when it comes to friendships. Men don’t know how to be friends, and the reason is if you put two men next to each other, the natural default is to compete. We share our strengths. What we do. How our kids are doing, etc.  And this is the problem—when we share our strengths, that instigates competition, but when we share our hurts and weakness, that instigates compassion and unity and vulnerability.

The second decision the Psalm 1 man made in his life was to not only have the right companions, but to have the right compass, or guiding force in his life. We see this in Verse 2 where it says that his delight is in the law of the LORD, and that he meditates on it day and night. Now the word here for law is torah, which simply means instruction; not information, but instruction. Information is broad, it’s random; instruction is specific and assumes guidance. The Word of God instructs the righteous man. It shows him the way he is to walk, and he bends his life to it. Not only that, but the righteous man delights in God’s Word, meditating on it day and night. He doesn’t just have a quiet time in the morning and then goes about the rest of the day forgetting God. No, he meditates on God’s Word. In fact, the word meditates means a constant chewing or mulling over. This man is a man of the Word, and as a result of him living under the Word of God, he becomes righteous, that is clean.

Men, one of the side effects of living under the authority of God’s Word is we become clean. When we soak ourselves in the Word of God, we become clean.  Growing up, we didn’t have a dishwasher…I was the dishwasher. Sometimes I’d encounter a certain dish, pot or pan that was so dirty that it became really hard to clean. But its here where I learned a trick. I discovered that if I just let the pan soak in the water for a long period of time, that after a while the dirt would just slide off. When that pan just meditated in that water the dirt would just slide off. I didn’t have to scrub too hard, it would just slide off. So it is with us men. Don’t focus on the dirt, focus on meditating in the water of God’s Word and the dirt will come off.

So what’s the result of us having the right companions and the right compass?  Verse 3 tells us—we will be like a tree planted by streams of water. In context, the streams of water are having the right companions and the right compass.  Men, when we are hanging out with the right brothers, and are living under the authority of the Word of God, this gives us the supply source we need to grow as trees.

But now why does he use the analogy of a tree to depict the righteous man?  The image of a tree is used over 250 times in the Bible. As a metaphor, trees are most commonly used to depict a life-giving force. In fact, the Bible opens and closes with the tree of life. And, of course, right in the middle of the Bible, there’s another tree we call the cross, which gives eternal life to all who yield to Christ. Don’t you see, the tree is life? In the natural, trees are powerful life-giving forces. The birds of the air build their nests and raise their young in trees. We eat the fruit from trees having our lives nourished. We build our homes, where we live, from the wood of trees. Trees give life. What’s more, is that scientists tell us trees are essential to life. We’d have a hard time breathing without trees since they produce the most oxygen. Trees also contribute to the production of rain. Large forests act as purifiers of air. Even dead trees are essential as they help produce fossil fuels. Scientists tell us that if there were no trees life, as we know it on planet earth, would not exist.

What’s true in the natural is true in the spiritual! Righteous men are trees, the Psalmist says. In other words, just like our world needs trees to survive and be healthy, so our society needs a collection of righteous trees known as godly men! Righteous men are not just something nice to have, but are necessary to the health of our society. Men, our kids need righteous trees. Our wives need righteous trees. Our communities need righteous trees. And I love the imagery here—the tree is rooted—which means it’s dependable. It’s not going to disappear or come crashing down with a little bit of trouble. We need rooted men who our families can count on, who aren’t going to disappear!

The Kainos Cohort


If you’re a leader with a passion to see your church or organization become more diverse, I want to personally spend time with you in our upcoming Kainos Cohort.  This is an intimate gathering of twelve leaders who will convene in Mountain View, California, October 8-10, where I will share over twenty-five years of experience in the area of diversity.  Specifically, the Kainos Cohort will cover the following:

1.      The Multiethnic Communicator.  This seminar will share practical tools in how to communicate in such a fashion that is conducive to drawing a multiethnic audience.  I have taught this course at seminaries, and am thrilled to distill the timeless traits of the multiethnic communication to you. 

2.      The Multiethnic Leader.  Everything really does come down to leadership, and this is especially true when it comes to building multiethnic churches and organizations.  As one who has pioneered a multiethnic church in one of the hardest places in the country, along with leading others, I have learned a ton (both good and bad), and look forward to sharing with you the most effective essentials to becoming a multiethnic leader. 

3.      Personal Access.  In this intimate setting you will have ample time to ask questions and engage in this sorely needed field.  You will also receive a copy of my latest book (Due out this coming October), Insider, Outsider: My journey as a stranger in the land of white evangelicalism, and my hope for us all.   It’s an honest, yet hopeful memoir of my life, as well as a practical resource for people wanting to serve in the multiethnic space.


An interview process will be required for acceptance into this cohort.  Upon entrance, there is a registration fee.  To set up the interview, and find out about the registration fee, please email my assistant, Danielle Ridley,  The first 12 approved will make up this first cohort.

Hope to see you there!


Bryan Lorrits

Desperate for Manhood Posters Part 2


The Bible describes Boaz as a “worthy man” (Ruth 2:1), a man full of substance…full of character.  More than his wealth, affluence and business acumen, Boaz stood out for his character.  If our young men were wanting to hang manhood posters in their rooms, Boaz would be the number “23” of those posters.  He’s a man worth emulating.

But what was it exactly about Boaz that we would want our young men to mimic?  Reading through the narrative of Ruth there are six traits that stand out about him, and in this post I will share one of those attributes (and the rest in future posts).

Transcendent Purpose:
One of the things I find most encouraging about Boaz is he’s not a preacher.  He isn’t a prophet, or someone in full time vocational ministry.  He’s a businessman, situated out in the marketplace.  He’s successful, and makes plenty of money, but he’s not defined by the size of his organization or bank accounts.  In fact, while he rarely makes mention of his business, he talks way more about his God.  What’s clear is that he is guided by what I am calling a transcendent purpose.

Howard Hendricks once pointed out there’s three questions every man has to answer: Who’s our Master?  What’s our Mission?  Who’s our Mate?  My sons and I talk about these questions often.  As they are preparing to leave our home to venture out into the world, our conversations have been filled with this concept of mission.  Sure, there’s the idea of how will they earn a living, but mission speaks to so much more, and is best expressed by the word vocation, which comes from the Latin vocatio, which means calling.  Too many men have jobs, but not vocations.  Too many men receive a paycheck, but not enough have embraced their mission.  

This maybe you, and you’re wondering how does one discern their mission?  Great question.  When God called Moses into the mission of leading Israel, Moses balked, giving a whole litany of excuses of how he couldn’t do this.  God then asked a critical question that turned the whole conversation and trajectory of Moses’ life: What’s in your hand (Exodus 4:2)?  It was a staff- an instrument Moses had used for the previous forty years as a shepherd.  He was comfortable with his staff.  He had used it effortlessly.  What was in his hand was his gifts and passions, those things that when he did them not only brought him joy, but had become second nature.  

If we want to discern our mission, begin with the question of what’s in our hand?  What is it that when you do it you sense the pleasure of God?  For me it’s preaching, writing and leading.  That’s in my hand.  For others it’s singing, or maybe administrating.  These are good gifts God has given us.  Now I’ll let you in on a secret: If God gives you a gift, and a passion, don’t you think he wants you to do something with it?  This is a part of your mission.  Isn’t this a real game changer for how we approach the will of God?  Instead of waiting on God to show you what you should do, why don’t we begin by taking inventory with what’s in our hand?  Once we figure this out we’re well on our way to mission and vocation, and living with a sense of transcendent purpose.  


Desperate for Manhood Posters


Adolescence can be defined as wanting the privileges of adulthood without the responsibilities. Having three teenage sons I find myself shaking my head like a bobble head doll at this definition. Sociologist’s go onto point out that when it comes to males, adolescence has extended to age thirty-five. We are seeing boys trapped in a man’s body, and not embracing manhood. Adolescent behavior among males can be seen in:

Living with a woman and not marrying her.

No real ambition or a sense of get-after- it-ness when it comes to life and career.

Still living at home with the parents well into your twenties and thirties with no plan to get out.

Serial starters, and never finishers.

Social media warriors pontificating on the problems of the world, all while living off of someone else’s sacrifice and hard work.

Consummate consumers and not contributors.

I could go on, but you get the point. Our society and churches are being decimated by the pandemic of extended adolescence. We don’t need males, as much as we need men, and please don’t confuse the two.

I walked into my youngest son’s room the other day and took note of the basketball “fat heads” and posters adorning his walls. These athletes serve as his role models inspiring his basketball dreams. And yet while they are great examples as basketball players, they’re hardly one’s to mimic off the court. But isn’t that the problem? We are suffering from a deficiency of modern “manhood posters”- men who inspire us by how they live for what a real man looks like.

In the story of Ruth, Boaz is such a man we’d do well to emulate. In fact, in Ruth 2:1 it says of Boaz that he was “a worthy man”. The Hebrew word for worthy means full of substance; it’s a word that has nothing to do with his finances, and everything to do with his character. Boaz is full of character. If my son was looking for manhood posters, Boaz would be one we’d hang in his room.

When I was a little boy I ate Wheaties. Now if you remember this cereal you’re probably wincing right now because Wheaties is not really good. So why did I eat it?
Well, my hero, Walter Payton (running back for the Chicago Bears) was on the box of Wheaties, and so I figured if he ate it, so should I. One day my father got invited to preach for the Chicago Bears, and afterwards we were asked to breakfast with the team. It just so happen I got to sit at the same table as Walter Payton, and what I saw shocked me. My hero was not eating Wheaties, but was eating Raisin Bran. I confessed to him that I ate Wheaties because he did, and wanted to know why he was eating Raisin Bran? I’ll never forget what he said, “Oh kid, I hate that stuff. I don’t eat Wheaties”. Now this is not to disparage Walter Payton, and from everything I’ve read of his short life, he was a great man. But still, I was greatly disappointed that day. My hero wasn’t even buying what he was selling. All Wheaties was, was a paycheck, an opportunity to extend his brand.

We need men like Boaz- worthy men, men full of character who will “eat their Wheaties”. We need men who are discontent with being public successes but private failures. We need men full of substance, character and integrity.

In the next post we will talk about six things that marked Boaz life, making him a worthy man.

Discipleship Summit 2018: An Invitation to Satisfaction


Abundant Life is an equipping church where we take Jesus’ invitation to discipleship seriously.  We define disciple making as producing reproducing followers of Jesus Christ. Or to say it another way, Jesus wants us to be more into multiplication than addition.  Now that’s a good thing, because we live in one of the most secular places in the country, where of the ten million people who call the Bay area home, only 2-3% identify as followers of Jesus.  Our sanctuary seats about two thousand, and there’s not enough services we can add to meet the millions of people here who need Jesus. To be effective in the Bay we have to multiply ourselves in the lives of others, and to multiply we need to be equipped. 


This is why once a year we host our Discipleship Summit, which aims to equip Christ-followers in the Bay with the requisite tools to engage others in their spheres of influence to the glory of God.  Dr. Bobby Conway, also known as the “One Minute Apologist,” will be teaching us on Saturday, April 21, and then again the next day at our Sunday morning gathering. I’ve known Bobby for about ten years, and beyond his academic credentials he is uniquely gifted to take the heady concepts of apologetics (i.e., the existence of God, the problem of suffering and evil, the reliability of Scripture among others) and present them in a way that’s accessible to people all across the spiritual spectrum.  He is known to take lofty concepts and set them on the bottom shelf. You will leave feeling more confident in engaging people who don’t know Jesus, and responding to the questions they have. I hope you’re making plans to join us.

But there’s more.  If you were to ask me what has been my most satisfying moments as a follower of Jesus, I would say without hesitation it’s been those times when I’ve given myself away…when I’ve multiplied what Christ has entrusted to me into the lives of others.  It’s when I’ve written that check, or taken the young leader under my wing to develop them, this has brought me the greatest joy. Contributing, not consuming is the path to joy. So the invitation to jump in on disciple making is really an invite to the deepest joy and satisfaction we can ever know.  Our Discipleship Summit is a step in the journey to satisfaction. Be sure to register and let us know you’re coming. Can’t wait to see you.

Bryan Loritts

Lead Pastor, Abundant Life