John Eldredge thoughts….

First some business — the Carver football banquet is on Saturday March 3rd at 5:30pm – that is less than 3 weeks away.  We need your help.  It simply won’t get done…it won’t happen…unless men step up.  Reject passivity here men and step up with “I’ll do that…”  You can help in any number of ways from an hour or two early in the day helping us set up, to standing over a grill cooking steak, to being a server or to just showing up at the end to help with the clean up.  It is a massive undertaking and we need you.  If you can help and haven’t already, please email Michael Wood at mwood65@gmail.com

Second thing – parking at the church is becoming a problem.  It’s a good problem to have!  We are pushing 1,000 folks per week at the two services up from about 800/week this time last year.  We need more parking.  Muscogee Glass across Milgen has opened their lot to us and it will hold 75+ cars.  We are going to add police service on Sundays to help with crossing Milgen and to help folks exit the lots.  But until then, we need you to “step UP” to this and volunteer to park over there.  Drop your kids and wife off at the door and then park over there and walk over to the church.  We all need the exercise.  Men, this is one of those things that just won’t happen unless someone says, “I’ll do it…”  We don’t want our visitors searching for parking.

John Eldredge (from his website) on A Fresh Start… He wrote this at the start of the year but it is timely any time (I paraphrase)…

  1. Sit and pray and listen for the Lord and ask Him, “What is the theme of the year for me Lord?”  Listen.  Contemplate.  Dig deep around it.  See if you can discern what the focus of this year should be for you with Him.
  2. Pray.  Eldredge suggests praying their “Daily Prayer” found on his website www.ransomedheart.com (look under “more” and then “prayers”).  This is a great prayer and I’ve used it.  Keith referenced it not too long ago in a sermon.  But whatever your prayers are, just be sure you are praying.  As John says, “Times are hard.  Quick little “Jesus be with me” prayers just aren’t going to cut it anymore.”
  3. Get yourself in some form of community.  Community Groups.  Lunch with 2-3 men you deeply trust and respect.  Man School.  (PS – Man School is great.  I am loving Men’s Fraternity Authentic Manhood.  Sunday’s at 5pm or Wednesdays at 6am).  Eldredge says, “Big church is great but that isn’t community.  You need people in your life.  Take the risk.  Invite other men into community with you and just see what happens.”
  4. Take the battle seriously.  Too many folks are trying to live as though there are only two big players in their life – them, and God.  And they’re silently mad at God that He isn’t coming through for them more often.  Friends, enough with the naiveté.  You live in a world at war.  Live like it.  Fight back.  Stop thinking things will get better with time.  This is Normandy.  Live like it!
  5. Take your healing seriously.   Yes, you can have a “New year, new you.”  You can.  If you will take your healing seriously.  I mean your inner healing, the restoration of your soul.  We’ve taken hits all year and our souls are in great need of wholeness and freedom and life.  It isn’t going to happen unless you pursue it.  Get some counseling.  Deal with the issues.  Go to your wounds and face them.  Get healing prayer from others over you.  With a whole heart, you are unstoppable.  With a wounded heart, you are limping along.  With a broken heart, you are vulnerable, very vulnerable.
  6. Fall in love with God again.  There’s a reason “love God with everything that is within you” is the first and greatest command.  Nothing in life works unless we practice this.  But when we do fall in love with God, love Him with everything we are, it is the greatest act of re-orientation we could ask for – the single greatest shift towards wholeness, happiness, life and clarity that any person could ever choose.  It is the main thing.

This is a good reminder and check list for us all.  There is so much for us to do – from the banquet to where we park to living in the corporate world to loving our wives and leading our children.  We have to saddle UP and live the abundant life Christ came to freely give us passionate in our pursuit of the Lord.

 

 

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Temptation…

Eve was enticed.

Eve engaged.

Eve ate.

So goes the pattern for all temptation, all sin.  We are first enticed.  Can we avoid enticement?  Not hardly.  It would be mighty pious of a man to claim he had purified himself of enticement, all temptation.  We’ve discussed this in previous posts but men are bombarded with images all day long.  Attractive women cross our paths.  We are tempted by food we probably shouldn’t eat.  Apple rolls out the iPad3…(What’s wrong with the iPad I’ve got?).  We innocently search Google for a topic and “Hot singles in Columbus Georgia ready for a date” appears on the pop-up next to our search.

It is one thing to be enticed – quite another to engage.

It is in the engaging that we get into all sorts of trouble.  The flirtation with danger.  The extra looks we take.  Initiating conversations that we know better to initiate.  Clicking on the revealing picture “just to see”.  These are what start the destructive pattern rolling.

Think about this in terms of cars.  We should buy a car, pay for it and drive it “until the wheels fall off”.  But we are seduced by the 2012 models.  The ads are appealing.  And so we start to “engage” a bit in the process.  We go to Motor Trend’s site and read reviews.  We go to the manufacturer’s site and “build our own” model just to see.  We frequently look at pictures.  We begin to covet.  We begin to think “I really do need a new car”.  And then we start figuring out if we can swing the payment and justify the need to our spouse.

I’m a truck guy.  I did the “buy a car every 3-4 years” routine and I had a new Honda Accord to replace a perfectly fine Pontiac that I loved and then I replaced the Honda.  Then I bought a few used cars and drove a Tahoe that my wife had driven (until she needed a new car).  Then I did the dumbest thing of all, I bought a BMW.  That was my crowning achievement of car stupidity.  I bought the lie that I “deserved” a car like that.  I hated it.  Truth be told 10 years later, that old Honda Accord would probably have been just fine but I gave away a lot of money bouncing from one car to another out of a lack of contentment.  Lesson learned – no car is ever going to complete me.  So I sold the BMW for a profit and bought a minimally equipped pickup truck and have been happy as a clam ever since.

Occasionally I flirt with danger and look too long at the Infiniti commercials and then I engage a bit and go to the website and I compare it to the Hyundai Genesis and then I shake my head and say “NO” and go back to my beat up, dirty, reliable, paid for truck and I hug it.  And then comes the rumor that Chevy/GMC and Ford are all about to unveil major re-do’s of their trucks….

This the new Chevy Colorado and it foreshadows the new big truck Z-71’s coming.  And I begin to engage again.  I’ve started to wander.  Started to dance with the thoughts.  I see this picture, imagine a bigger version of this with bigger tires and I can feel my testosterone surge.  “I need this truck….” 

Now, buying a new truck or car isn’t deadly like some of the other temptations we face.  THIS is how our temptation with pornography works – or – the temptation to flirt a little bit with the lady at work – or – the temptation to cut corners on a business deal.  We are enticed and then we engage.  We go beyond the initial look, initial thought.  We start to talk about it, we dig a little deeper, we contemplate the possibilities of pulling it off….and the hook is being set.

I cannot tell you that you should never be enticed by enticing things.  But I can tell you that you should never “engage”.  Satan passes the flashy bait in front of us but we are always the one to make the first move.  If we never engaged, we’d never get hooked.

So our prayer for each other is that we’d guard our hearts and our souls and our bodies from the temptation to take that next step.  Do not kid yourself – you will be tempted.  Eve was enticed but it was when she engaged and started talking with the “father of all lies” that she fell.  Had she walked away, none of it would have happened.   Yes, you will be tempted (probably today) by alluring images but you’re the only one who clicks the mouse to take you into the next step.

Watch that next step….it’s a doozie.  When tempted, just walk away, my man.  Walk away.

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken.  We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit.  We are hunted down, but God never abandons us.  We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going… Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.  For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long.  Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever!”  2 Corinthians 4:5

A Christianity that “ruins” my life….

From Michael Yaconelli’s book “Dangerous Wonder”…

“The most critical issue facing Christian’s is not abortion, pornography, the disintegration of the family, moral absolutes, MTV, drugs, racism, sexuality, or school prayer.  The critical issue today is dullness.  We have lost our astonishment.  The Good News is no longer good news…it is OK news.  Christianity is no longer life changing, it is life enhancing.  Jesus doesn’t change people into wild-eyed radicals anymore, He changes them into “nice people.”

If Christianity is simply about being nice, I am not interested.

What happened to radical Christianity, the “un-nice” brand of Christianity that turned the world upside down?  What happened to the category-smashing, life-threatening, anti-institutional gospel that spread through the first century like wildfire and was considered (by those in power) dangerous?

What happened to the kind of Christians whose hearts were on fire, who had no fear, who spoke the truth no matter what the consequence, who made the world uncomfortable, who were willing to follow Jesus wherever He went?  What happened to the kind of Christians who were filled with passion and gratitude, and who every day were unable to get over the grace of God?

I’m ready for a Christianity that “ruins” my life, that captures my heart and makes me uncomfortable.  I want to be filled with an astonishment which is so captivating that I am considered wild and unpredictable and … well … dangerous.  Yes, I want to be “dangerous” to a dull and boring religion.  I want a faith that is considered “dangerous” by our predictable and monotonous culture.

 

Praise the Lord, this isn’t the case at Christ Community.  We have a community of men that are radical in their faith, not ashamed to proclaim and desiring of a much closer walk with Jesus.  In our own ways, we are wounded and from time to time, we need to be pulled off the battlefield, patched up and restored by the Lord through community.  This is what LiveUP is all about – helping men come “fully alive” and restoring their passion for the Lord.

LiveUP 

Biblical manhood lessons

I have great respect for Crawford Loritts.  Here he is talking about Biblical manhood lessons at Desiring God — click on the highlighted link below….

Biblical manhood lessons

Fast forward through John Piper’s prayer and introduction to about the 4 mintue mark.  Crawford’s talk is about 40 minutes long.  It is EXACTLY what we’ve been talking about in the Quest for Authentic Manhood.  It is exactly what we have been talking about in the context of the ministry at Carver.  It is exactly what Keith is talking about in Genesis.

He is a powerful speaker and this is rich material.

When you have one hour, sit some place quiet and watch this video.  It will affirm you.  It will call you UP.

What we heard at the LiveUP Kick Off meeting….

On Tuesday, January 31st, we had 80+ men gather at Christ Community Church to hear the vision of our Men’s Ministry.  They heard the call to “Live UP”… 

 UP to a higher standard

UP to continually pursuing our wives and battling for them.

UP to standing firm in our faith and fighting to defend the culture from the onslaught.

UP to being men of integrity – integrity with our money, our time, our work, our kids, our wives and with our sexual purity.

UP in our desire to fight for those less fortunate.

UP for standing for what is right.

UP in a passionate pursuit of Jesus.

UP even in things like getting in physical shape, pursuing bold adventures and building a community of men vs. fighting this battle all alone.

 

But, we also heard something else.  We heard some things we are not called to do…

We are not called to “FeelUP.”  This was not a Rah Rah meeting where we revved guys up and shot them out into the world with guns blazing. God is not looking for emotional response, but life change.  Men do not need another movement that flames out in the first few weeks.  We need soul shaking, heart stirring change that wells up from within.

We are not called to “ShowUP”.  God does not need men fill seats and sit there assuming others will do the job.  Being “involved” is great, but if it produces no fruit it is a waste. God calls all of us into some form of ministry.  Ask yourself, “where is mine?”

We are not called to “TalkUP”.  Everyone has heard the phrases “Talk is cheap” and “Put your money where your mouth is”.  We need to move past the talking and into taking action. 

We also heard these calls…

We are called to “StandUP.”  God has a plan and a purpose for each of us.  Ask God to show you and then become active wherever He leads you. “The fields are ripe but the laborers are few.”

We are called to “ManUP”.  Throw off passivity.   Make a commitment to change.  Start in your home.  Lead your family the way God intended.  Then, move out from there into the Church and then the community at large.

We are called to “LiveUP”.  The Bible says in Deuteronomy 6:5 “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  If we set our minds and hearts to doing this, we will…

LiveUP!

Submitted by Michael Wood

A mythical figure….

We had 80+ men last night for our Man Meeting.  80+!!  God is stirring the hearts of men.

LiveUP is not a “high emotion, chest thumping, testosterone-laced” men’s movement that will quickly fade out.  Our one and only goal is to bring men into a radically closer walk with and pursuit of Jesus.  That’s it.  It’s all 100% about Jesus.  “The glory of God is man fully alive” — fully alive in Jesus.  Not shrinking back.  Not passive.  But bold.  Bold in his faith, bold to share it, bold to lovingly lead his wife by serving, bold to model his faith for his children and raise them up loving the Lord.  Bold in his work and his community.  Alive.  Fully alive.

The call to LiveUP is the radical call of Jesus.  He said in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life and it abundantly”. 

So here is a recap of last night’s slides for you…

  • God creates man and breathes life into him.  From the very beginning God designed man for relationship with Him.  Man was given a job to do, a garden to cultivate, a land to have dominion over, animals to name and subdue.  Man was given leadership, dominion, responsibilities, a job, rules about the Tree…and Eve hasn’t even been created yet.  This was – at first – about God and Man.  A father and a son.

And we get this image of God creating this land and sitting on the porch with His son showing it to him.  Just the two of them.  A loving Father having dreamed up this marvelous creation and revealing it to his son and then, handing it over to him.  “Here it is son, all of this is yours to keep.  Fish, hunt, cut the fields, plant the crops, enjoy the cool of creeks and the majesty of the land.  It’s your inheritance entrusted to you to keep, subdue and grow.” 

  • The Fall.  And then there is the fall.  There is a thief.  Manhood has been attacked.  Warriors are wounded.  We carry the absent father wound, the controlling mother wound, the soul wounds – mistakes we’ve made that even to this day haunt us with regret and pain.  Men have shrunk back and gone passive in our wounds.  Women have stepped into void and run many of the businesses, churches and little leagues in our nation.  Culture beats up manhood – TV shows feature men that are weak and helpless and commercials mock us and yet, society then dares to ask, “Where have all the real men gone?”  This world desperately needs Godly men, fully restored and fully alive.

We need to restore the “mythical” figure that is man.  None of this is to diminish women as much of life cannot happen without them.  With that disclaimer, consider this mythical man….

  • He’s looked to as the spiritual head of the home.  Ultimately, the condition of his family’s faith falls upon him.  He carries the responsibility of a wife.  He pursues her, woos her, courts her, romances her, listens to her, puts her needs ahead of his own, protects her, defends her honor, fights for her, assures her, supports her, builds her up, loves her, comforts her and does spiritual battle for her.  He carries the burdens of his wife and children.
  • He works.  He puts his boots or suit on every morning and goes out to do battle in a fallen world – a world driven by greed, lust and an unquenchable thirst for “more”.  He deals with a boss, co-workers and customers.  He leads a battalion of men.  He must be a visionary.  He teaches and learns and hustles.  He meets unreasonable sales quotas.  He provides a home, income, foods, clothing, braces, cars, vacations, eating out, cash for birthdays, he pays for Christmas and pays the bills.  He does the taxes and the 401(k).  He worries about college and weddings and retirement.
  • He secures.  He protects the home.  He kills the snake in the backyard.  He protects his family at home and in public.  He’s alert at all times to risk.  He cares for the yard, cleans the gutters, washes the car, fixes the broken bicycle, cuts up the fallen tree, he puts lights on the Christmas tree and then takes them off and drags the tree out when she says it must go.
  • He teaches his son about guns, knives, politics, money, girls, integrity, how to shoot a basketball, throw a curveball and shoot a gun.  He teaches him when it is right to fight and right to walk away.

This is a mythical figure.  When you read this list it is exhausting.  This man is a hero and a modern-day knight.  He should be celebrated instead of being dumbed down by the culture.  This man is you.  You are a mythical figure.

And so is your wife and we could write an even longer list about her….but….we’re talking about you and in the context of God’s original design and that front porch conversation with your Father when he gave you the keys to the farm, this is a beautiful and good thing!

You carry a lot on your shoulders.  God has given you dominion over your land, your home, your wife, your children and your career.  That’s a lot.  But He’s given it to you and the call is to rise UP and take dominion over what He has trusted to you.  And that is what LiveUP is all about — helping to restore men.  Patching a few of them up.  Perhaps removing a few bullets and patching a few broken legs and doing this so the men can get back up on their feet restored and energized for the life ahead.

There is so much more to say but I’m at 1,000 words and that’s enough.  You get the picture.  God loves you.  He dreamed you up from nothing and dreamed great dreams for your life.  Look around you…you are quite blessed.  More to come.  Until then dig into the Word and seek His guidance for your life to come fully alive in Him.