First of all — no Man School next Wednesday. Hard to believe that is the day before Thanksgiving. We will pick it back up the following Wednesday. I will send a reminder out later – next meeting is 11/28 and we’ll do Chapters 13 & 14.
Here are the slides from last week and today…
Wow. Man School this morning was incredible. God moved. You could tangibly feel men breaking free of bondage. The Holy Spirit was present. Michael Wood’s testimony was incredibly powerful and freeing. There is so much power in a man’s testimony. It truly is Holy ground and how about the power of all of us men gathering around Michael for that final prayer!
There is so much to say, so much to write to try to capture what happened this morning. To say anything almost ruins it but I want it captured as best we can for others to read and for our future reference.
First, let me start with restoration. Anytime we open the topic of sexual sin with men, we need to focus on restoration. God is restoring us but we have to let Him. We read this today from John Eldredge’s book Epic ($3.20 at Lifeway)…
“Stop for just a moment, and let it be true. They lived happily ever after. These may be the most beautiful and haunting words in the entire library of mankind. Why does the end of the great story leave us with a lump in our throats and an ache in our hearts? If we haven’t become entirely cynical, some of the best endings can even bring us to tears. Because God has set eternity in our hearts. Every story we tell is our attempt to put into words and images what God has written there, on our hearts. Think of the stories that you love. Remember how they end…
Then Aslan turned to them and said, “You do not look so happy as I mean you to be.” Lucy said, “We’re so afraid of being sent away, Aslan. And you have sent us back into our own world so often.” “No fear of that,” said Aslan. “Have you not guessed?” Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them. “There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly: “Your father and mother and all of you are – as you used to call it in the Shadowlands – dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”
And as he spoke he no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before. (CS Lewis, The Last Battle)
There it is. The hope of eternity springs forth in our hearts. Restored. All our sins, all our dirt, all our shame, all our failure…gone. We are restored to the glory of God’s design for us and the 80 or so years we lived on this fallen earth appear only as the first paragraph of the real story, the story of eternity.
Maintaining our regrets – I heard Andy Stanley give a sermon on sexual sin and our need for guard rails and he closed that talk by reading a letter from a lady who fell into sexual sin and then was fully restored. Andy couldn’t read the letter – it tears him up every time he does it – so another lady read the letter and it was powerful to hear her story. Andy then said, “the band is going to close us with this song (He loves us) and I want you to focus on that final chorus – ‘I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way He loves us..'”
Think about that… “maintaining regrets“. That really struck me. I maintain my regrets. I do. I hold onto them and they haunt me. As I told you this morning, I can probably recite with great detail 18 major regrets of my life with vivid descriptions of how I screwed up. And yet, I probably can’t recite to you the 18 happiest memories of my children. Those memories are there but I don’t “maintain” them the way I maintain the regrets of my screw ups.
And with maintaining my regrets, I am playing right into the enemy’s strategy. He wants me to carry them, hang onto them. He wants me to take them down off the shelf, re-live them, polish them up and put them back on the shelf.
And God wants to liberate me from them. By maintaining my regrets, I am not believing in Grace. I am not trusting the Lord and trusting His Word.
Michael’s testimony – I will not go into the details here. But it was powerful. We’ve been saying all this fall in Man School that there is power in a man’s testimony. We’ve also been saying “don’t do life alone” and if you looked at the slides from today (man school no matter the cost 6 referenced at the top), you saw the discussion about how we need to bring things into the light. Satan thrives in the darkness and keeping men alone in their failings. The surest way to kill the mistake is to bring it out into the open. If you keep it in the dark, it will eat you alive. When a man confesses a temptation to other brothers, it liberates him. I shared one with you today. Michael shared his. We all face them. If we “maintain” them and keep them our secret, Satan can destroy us. If I bring it to you, bring it into the light, we can kill it and remove the power we give to it.
And then Michael shared the words from Big Daddy Weave’s song “Redeemed” –
Seems like all I could see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “son
Stop fighting a fight it’s already been won”
I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I’m not who I used to be
I am redeemed, I’m redeemed
The battle is already won men. Don’t hang onto these mistakes. Do not let them define you. The past is the past. You’ve been forgiven. God’s great desire is to bring you to full restoration. Don’t hang onto your past. Embrace the future – the future of you being fully alive, sharing your powerful testimony to liberate other men and battle for the Lord’s kingdom.
Let me end with this – back at work I opened “Jesus Calling” – check out today’s word — “Bask in the luxury of being fully understood and unconditionally loved. Dare to see yourself as I see you: radiant in My righteousness, cleansed by My blood. I view you as the one I created you to be, the one you will be in actuality when heaven becomes your home.”
That gentlemen, is restoration. Full restoration as the majestic being God created you to become. That’s where we are going! LiveUP!