Come Lord Jesus, come. Oh how we need You…

Our enemy, our captor is no pharaoh on the Nile
Our toil is neither mud nor brick nor sand
Our ankles bear no calluses from chains, yet Lord, we’re bound
Imprisoned here, we dwell in our own land

Deliver us, deliver us
Oh Yahweh, hear our cry
And gather us beneath your wings tonight

Our sins they are more numerous than all the lambs we slay
These shackles they were made with our own hands
Our toil is our atonement and our freedom yours to give
So Yahweh, break your silence if you can

‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem
How often I have longed
To gather you beneath my gentle wings’

From the song “Deliver us” which speaks to the reason Jesus came as it was announced to Joseph by the angel – “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save  his people from their sins.”  Matthew 1:21

Come Lord Jesus, come.

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We all have our Shawshanks – man school final slides

Today was a great end to the fall man school.  David Burnell’s testimony was incredible.  God spoke through him and I hope he will be open to other speaking engagements.

Attached below is a link to the final slides.  Here are the lyrics from the 3rd stanza of “Be thou my vision” that we listened to…

“Be Thou my battle shield, sword for the fight; Be Thou my dignity, Thou my delight;
 Thou my soul’s shelter, Thou my high tower:
 Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.”

And here is the text from what I read about The Shawshank Redemption…

“Whether unwittingly or not, the great film, The Shawshank Redemption is about Hope and the sacramental foretaste’s of redemption that can occur even in the most hellish of the World’s dark places.

Andy DuFrane is wrongly convicted for the murder of his wife.  He is sent to Shawshank, a maximum security prison run by brutish guards and, an outrageously hypocritical-Bible-quoting warden.

As in any prison movie, the walls and bars and fences are virtually characters in the film.  They are they symbols of hopelessness and oppression.  Early on in the movie, they are featured especially prominently.

Conversely, light and expanse (symbols of hope), are rare.

As the film progresses, we have several scenes, which for a time, make the walls disappear.  Through Andy’s agency, he and his brother inmates work on a roof and enjoy a couple of beers at the brutish guards expense, beers that “Dissolved the walls.  We felt like men.  We felt that each man was on his own house.”  And for a time, the sky is blue and you can see for miles.

Another time Andy gets some Mozart records and plays an aria over the prison loud-speaker system.  Like the beers, the music dissolves the walls.  Red, Andy’s friend says, “I don’t know what those ladies were singing.  It was so beautiful, so deep, it couldn’t be expressed in words.  Made the walls dissolve.  Every last man felt free.”

But such moments get you in trouble.  We hear, “hope is a dangerous thing” several times.  Andy gives Red a harmonica to make his own music, and make his walls disappear, but Red does not dare play.  The elixir of freedom and hope would be too strong and too painful.  The prison is designed to take away hope and any who dare to try to have it get savaged by the system.

Finally “time, pressure, and big girly poster” combine and Andy escapes.  In an amazing reversal of the crucifixion/resurrection story, Andy first crawls through the grave (a 500 foot long sewage pipe) and upon his resurrection, standing free and clean in the open night air, he does a crucifixion pose. 

The Pacific ocean is the place of a bright and blessed future, the place hoped for.  It is a sort of heaven.  All light and expanse.  To Mexicans, the Pacific is a “Place of no memory.”

shawshank-redemption-2

Think about that, a place of no memory.  This is where we are heading men – to a place of no memory of this life of regret, pain, failures, mistakes, affairs, addictions, rejections and disappointments.  We are heading toward Freedom.

Guys, we all have our Shawshanks.  The question is “What are you going to do with your Shawshank?  Keep it locked up?  Keep it a secret?  Hope it will just fade away and that nobody else finds out?  Or…are you going to be a man of honor and integrity and transparency and admit your mistake, admit your vulnerability and break free of this prison of your own making?

The battle call to us as men is to LiveUP.  To raise the bar.  To aspire to the higher vision that Jesus laid out for us.

Erwin McManus said – “I hope there is one man here tonight who will say, ‘I don’t care if I look like I came from 3,000 years ago – I’m going to live a life of honor and of nobility and integrity and courage and sacrifice and compassion and generosity – I’m going to be a real man.'”

There it is – the bar being raised for us…

Honor, nobility, integrity, courage, sacrifice, compassion and generosity.  That’s our call.  LiveUP

man school no matter the cost – final

last man school tomorrow

our last man school of the fall is tomorrow morning.  Please make the effort to join us – even if you have been coming and have dropped out, tomorrow will speak to you.  Even if you’ve never been to man school, tomorrow will speak to you.  6am at the church.  Coffee & Biscuits served!

I know….I know…it’s early but God rises early and He will get you through the day tomorrow.

We’ve got a great testimony tomorrow – yet another man sharing what God has placed on his heart.  It’s powerful.  Join us.  You will blessed.

“veneer” – man school notes from today

here are the slides from today’s man school.  I referenced the new book out by Timothy Willard and Jason Locy – “Veneer”.  I haven’t read much of the book but so far it is excellent.  The intro we read this morning was a haunting look at how culture wears down a marriage and it exposes the “veneer” we put up to the world of having it all together.

He challenges the reader with this quote, “As Christians, the idea of veneer goes against our foundational beliefs – that we are broken, that we don’t have it all together and that we need Christ; He gives us our identity.”

and this… “In the veneer of celebrity, we find ourselves striving after the world’s idea of success, which elevates self.  When we buy into the veneer, we begin to live life with a focus that zooms squarely on the individual.  What I wear, what I drive and how I behave define my success.  In the elevation of such things, we see an unhealthy emphasis on the self take shape.  We feel unsatisfied unless we have influence over others.  We feel irritated unless others approve of us.  We feel discontented unless we receive recognition in our work.  Influence, approval, achievement; in the celebrity world, these are our idols.  John Calvin is often quoted as saying, “the human heart is a perpetual idol factory.”

Theologian Klaus Bockmuehl said, “An idol leads a man, by necessity, into loneliness, when what man needs is a god with whom he can have a dialogue.”

Think about that!  Our idols drive us into loneliness.  I’ve never thought of that before – but the things we make as idols – money, sex, power, the need to be accepted, the need to control, etc. – consume us – consume us to the point that we don’t have any room for others and ultimately, no room for God.  The idol becomes our god.

The more we worship our idol, think about it, nurture it, the more and more of us it consumes.

Food for thought.  Two posts in one night so I will cut this one off.

Man school next week is our last session of this incredible fall season we’ve had together as men.  We’re going to wrap it up next week and we are going to have yet another man share a bit of his testimony with you.  I heard it this morning and I was blown away.  He got on a roll.  God was speaking through this man.  None of us in our group wanted him to stop.  He was just dead-on and it was powerful.

Come next week, you won’t be disappointed.  Here are the slides from this week.  God bless…

man school no matter the cost 8

sex…

did this get your attention?

Man school was great this morning and in our small group break out, we discussed the issues surrounding married sex and where we, as men, struggle.  Honesty and transparency helped us get a breakthrough.

Keith touched on this in our session and that is the primary differences between man and woman in the bedroom – he needs sex to reach intimacy and she needs intimacy before she is interested in sex.

God designed it this way.  Was He insane?  Surely the Creator of the universe could have come up with a better solution – right?

As we have discussed all this fall, in tough situations, we need to ask “What is God up to?”

So here is our “breakthrough” – in His “insanity”, maybe, just maybe God designed man and woman with this radically different approach to sex for precisely the reason to draw us to Him.  I mean think about it, if our wives wanted sex as much as we did, if we had sex all the time, if she was driven by sex the way we are, where would the true intimacy be?  Where would God be?  If she met my needs 24/7, it would be one less reason I’d need God.

As Keith said – true, pure marital sex where I place her needs ahead of mine and she puts my needs ahead of hers enables a couple reach a level of deep sexual intimacy that just a physical hook-up cannot touch.  It also enables a couple to live out the Gospel and gives us just a taste, a hint of what intimacy with God approaches.

I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy but it was a bit of a revelation for me.  Remember, God’s in control.  He knew exactly what He was doing when He put us together.

Rather than beating our heads against the wall at the frustration of why “she doesn’t want sex like I do”, we need to be diving into what God wants of both of us.  He wants us to die to self, die to putting my needs ahead of hers and to radically pursue intimacy with her outside the bedroom.  If we do that, the sex will take care of itself and most importantly, it will radically reshape my relationship with my wife.  It will also drive me deeper in my radical dependence on Him.

Men, I don’t know about you but I cannot do this one on my own.  I radically need God in my life.  I radically need Him to teach me how to selflessly love my wife and put her needs ahead of my own.  I need you Lord Jesus.  I need you.

The radical call men is to LiveUP in our service to her.  I hope this helped you.