ManSchool – perseverance

On December 18th, we covered perseverance in the book Uprising.  The end game of this quest is wisdom and while the future is full of uncertainty, the choices you make today do have a role in your future.  If you make wise choices today, you create a better future.  Foolish choices = future consequences.  We talked about this a few weeks ago but think about this in terms of money and saving for your future vs. no fiscal discipline and the future cost of that decision.

In James 1:1 it says “Consider it joy when you face trials…” – it is a reality of life that you will face trials.  Following Jesus and surrendering your life means you will face future trials.  “Oh great” you say, “then why follow Jesus?”  Choose not to follow Jesus and guess what, you’ll face trials in your future.  Either way, we will face trials.  The choice is “do we face those trials with Jesus or alone?”

Our trials send us through the fires that make us the kind of people who can walk through fires.  That’s why we should consider it joy when we face trials – they are tempering us like steel forged in a fire.  The hotter the fire, the stronger the hammer, the stronger the resulting steel.

But many of us don’t want to go through the tough times – we want God to use us to do great things but we’re not willing to be tested, not willing to be humbled.

However we must remember that when God calls on us to step UP, it will be a heroic quest.  You will be called to live your most courageous and noble life.  You’ll be called to live a life of sacrifice and if you haven’t been tempered by fire, tested and strengthened, you’ll fail.

A “man of steel” is built over a lifetime.  Our goal is to be Godly men of steel.  A 20-year-old cannot possibly step UP into this challenge.  He simply isn’t ready.  He hasn’t been tested.  He lacks training and experience and cannot pull back on past experiences to know how to react.  A 20-year-old cannot be the CEO.  He just isn’t ready.  And yet, society teaches us that all the good stuff happens young.

The great news is this the things most extraordinary about you are yet to come.  I’m 49 and it’d be easy to think I’ve peaked long ago but I simply don’t believe that.  God is using me in ways that are very exciting and I’ve grown more spiritually in the past 5 years than I grew in the previous 20.

Men, it is possible to be physically stronger at age 49 than you were at 20.  That’s a fact.  If you work and lift and push and dedicate, you can bench press more today than you did as a young man.  The same is true spiritually.  As you age and God tempers you, He can move you into incredibly heroic quests.  But the key is perseverance.  You’re going to face challenges and you have to persevere.  It isn’t how you start the race but how you finish it.  You don’t want to crash late in life.  We all have mistakes and train wrecks in our life.  We want the train wreck chapter to be 3-4 chapters ago.  We don’t want that in our future.  We all know too many men who seemed to be Godly leaders and who failed late in life, had an affair with a girl 20-30 years younger than him and he destroyed his family and life-long reputation.

The word perseverance comes from the same Greek word as patience and endurance.  God is trying to build resilience that lives above the damage we’ve done to ourselves.  Satan is going to come after us like he came after Jesus in the wilderness.  Jesus wore Satan down.  We want to be the kind of men who wear Satan down and no matter how great the temptation, we will never, never, never give in.  No matter how tempting that other woman is, we won’t go near her.  No matter how tempting internet porn is, we will never step into that dark room.  No matter how tempting it is to cut corners at work, we will never be compromised.  We WILL persevere and in so doing, God will strengthen our resolve.  Be the kind of man who never gives up.

uprising 12 perseverance

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short note – serious food for thought…

Jesus’ sentences stand like quivering swords of flame because He did not come to bring peace but revolution.

The Gospel is a cutting-edge, rolling thunder, convulsive earthquake in the world of the human spirit.

In entering human history, God has shattered all previous conceptions of who God is. 

The life He has planned for us is much more like the life He lived.  (think about that!)

He was not poor that we may become rich.

He was not mocked that we may be honored.

He was not laughed at so that we could be praised.

We are not to fill up what is wanting in us in the suffering of Christ.

Brennan Manning

Growing spiritually? (faithfulness part 2)

After ManSchool, Ryan Walker went back to work and opened his daily devotional – this is what he read …

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“Spiritual Growth doesn’t happen automatically.  You must desire to grow, decide to grow, discipline yourself, and delight in spiritual growth.  “But my life is just too hard,” you say.  A lot of folks have it worse than you and grown into spiritual maturity, and a lot of folks have had it better and remained stuck in spiritual infancy.  That’s because they doubted their ability to grow, drifted wherever the current took them, or delayed their growth, thinking, “I’ll get around to it when things change.”  But it never happens.

Growth always begins with a decision. Follow me and be my disciple…So Matthew got up and followed him” (Matt 9:9).  Matthew didn’t understand all the implications of his decision; he simply decided to follow Jesus.  That’s all you need to get started – a decision.  Nothing shapes your life like the decisions you make.  If you want to know what you’ll be in twenty or thirty years from now, examine the commitments and priorities that rule your life.  It’s at the point of commitment that most of miss God’s best. Because we are afraid to commit to anything, we make half-hearted commitments to too many things and end up frustrated because we chose the wrong things.  And when we commit to the wrong things we end up living with regrets.  Every choice has consequences, so choose wisely.  Christlikeness is the result of making Christlike choices, then depending on Him to help you fulfill those choices.  And He will: God accurately reproduces his character in you (Eph 4:24).”

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If you read the last post on faithfulness, you will see the exact same theme coming through – a present action determines a future outcome.  Like saving for retirement, exercising, losing weight, work-ethic, the kind of husband/father you will be – we all have two paths to choose, the path of discipline or the path of regret.

If I desire to be vibrant, healthy, sharp and fit when I am 70 then I have a choice to make.  If I discipline myself and set out on daily quest to exercise and eat right, I will get the desired outcome.  It’s going to cost me something.  Me.  It will cost me, “me”.  I will have to slay self that desires French fries, chips, ice cream, etc. in exchange for what I know is right for my body.

If I believe we are to be good financial stewards of what God has entrusted to us, then I have a decision to make.  I need to get 100% debt free.  I need to balance my checkbook, control my spending and save/invest.  But something’s got to give.  Me.  I cannot spend money as I want and just hope magically everything will turn out alright when I’m ready to retire.

I want to grow in my faith.  I no longer want to accept the lie that “I’ll never be the kind of guy that learns the Bible” or just default to, “My wife is the spiritual one”.  No.  I want to grow in my faith,  I desire to lead my family spiritually.  Well, that’s going to take the same discipline needed to get in shape.  It means getting in the Word.  It means getting up at 5am to go to ManSchool at 6am in the freezing cold!  It means not saying, “I just don’t have the time to be in a Bible study or small group“.  There are choices to be made…either way.

Actions speak louder than words and as we’ve learned, a present action determines a future outcome.  You have already made one of two choices – you’re either on the path of discipline or the path of regret.  Which one are you on?  Is it time to make a change?

Are you going to LiveUP?

my teeth hurt – faithfulness

Here are the slides from this week’s ManSchool uprising 11 faithfulness

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We talked about faithfulness this morning.  There was much to discuss.  McManus talked about saving for retirement.  If you are 21 and plan to work for 50 years to 71 and then live to age 91 – 20 years of no working – you’re going to need a retirement fund.  If you save $284 a month, every month and invest it, when you are 71, you’ll have $1.2 million.  A present action determines a future outcome.  But, of course, this takes discipline.  It’s hard when you want to stop by Starbucks or buy another coat or finance that new car when you are supposed to be saving $284/month.  Very typically, we sacrifice the future for the present.  We overspend and hope it will just work out.

He talked about their church where 2,000 adults give a $3 million annual budget.  That’s an average of $1,500 each a year.  As he said, that’s good if you make $15,000 a year however, if you make $30,000 a year you’re falling short.  They rent their building and in six years will need to move.  However, if these 2,000 adults could give just $60 a week more, in six years the church could write a check for $5 million to buy that building.  But we trade the future for the present.  A present action (or inaction) determines a future outcome.

This same theme is true for losing weight or exercising.  We all want the outcome but very few of us are willing to do the work.  Perhaps it is a lack of faithfulness to the mission.

One of the men this morning shared he had been struggling with debt and was living with a bit of shame but he took the Dave Ramsey course 5 years ago and set up a 7 year plan to eliminate debt in his life.  He’s almost there!  Just 2 years to go.  But as he said, it wasn’t easy.  He had to take it one day at a time, one step at a time and he had to remain faithful.  A present action is determining his future outcome.

Yesterday, I got Invisalign for my teeth.  As I’ve aged, my mouth has started to crowd and my teeth were crossing over causing some discomfort.  My dentist has been after me for more than a year to visit an orthodontist.  Well, finally, I did and yesterday, I had the “pleasure” of getting these trays installed on my teeth.  I have to pry them out when I eat and shove them back into place afterwords.  My teeth hurt and prying these things off is NO fun.  And guess what, I get to to this for the next 9-10 months.  Every day.  Every meal for the next 300+ days.  I want the outcome but I’m really not too excited about the day to day struggle this will be.  A present action will determine a future outcome. 

Here’s the thing – nowhere are we promised a smooth and easy ride.  We are going to fail.  A lot.  We are going to fall down.  A lot.  There are going to be struggles – just in our small group alone, man, the struggles!  But we get back up again and again.  We don’t do this alone.  We have our community around us, our brotherhood.  We call each other UP to a higher standard.  We take it one day at a time.  One step.  One breath.  Rinse and repeat.

Read Luke 19 and the Parable of the 10 minas.  The key takeaway from this passage is this – God is going to hold each one of us accountable for the gifts He’s given us.  The good news is that he will not compare my results to yours.  My gifts are different than yours and God will only be concerned with with how I used my gifts.  For you, He’ll only be concerned with how you used your particular gifts.  He won’t compare us.  He won’t compare you to Andy Stanley or Keith Cowart or Erwin McManus.  That’s good news!

God gives each of us gifts and He expects us to use them.  Too many of us are settling for mediocrity.  Too many of us are willing to be average.  God is calling you up to more than average.  He dreamed you up with great abilities and talents and He can’t wait to see what you do with them.  Shouldn’t we strive to be the best in world at what we do?  If I am passionate about my work, shouldn’t I dream big dreams and develop the disciplines to be the very best at my job?  What about my marriage?  Shouldn’t I strive to be the best husband in the world?  I know those are crazy statements but think about that – how are you living your days?  Humdrum and just do it again tomorrow or are you living with a grand vision for your life/marriage/mission/fathering/physical conditioning?

Faithfulness is the key.  Walking daily with the Lord.  Step by step, breath by breath.  God’s only concerned with what you do with these gifts He’s entrusted to you.  As we see in Luke 19, He rewards the faithful steward with exponential responsibilities.  This is a picture of the Kingdom.  Faithful in the small things = a rich future outcome.

A present action will determine a future outcome.  It requires faithfulness.

LiveUP!

How much do you love your boots? Generosity.

Here are the slides from last week’s talk on generosity from McManus’ book UPrising…  uprising 10 generosity

I have to tell you, this study has been so good that we will do this again in the future.  There is so much rich material and we feel like we only scratched the surface.

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The goal of this entire process is a movement towards wholeness.  Wholeness comes out of a spirit of gratitude which we’ve touched on in previous posts but as we move towards wholeness,  what is unleashed is generosity.  Many of us are in captivity and for a lot of us, that captivity comes out of a spirit of greed.  To be truly free, truly alive, we’re going to have to deal with this issue of greed.

Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street famously said, “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”  No, it isn’t.  Greed consumes.  Greed tells us we aren’t content.  Greed tells us others have it better than we do.  Greed will leave you bitter and the more you take, the more you consume, the more the monster is fed.  And by the way, you don’t own your things, they own you.  The more you possess, the more they possess you.

But we are on a quest for nobility and wholeness and the end game is that we’d learn to be generous people, to become instruments of good and that God would unleash such generosity in us that the world will never be the same again.

I can write pages and pages on this lesson on generosity but I am going to instead give you the bottom line…

Are you willing to give up your boots?

What do I mean?  McManus, at the end of this talk, challenges his people to do three things…

1)  Give 10% of their income to Mosaic Church – 10% isn’t the goal, its our starting point of giving

2)  Contribute to a humanitarian project – contribute your money and your time – go to Africa, India, Columbia, etc.

3)  Give your shoes away and go home barefooted

What?  He called his members up front, if so moved, to walk up and turn in their shoes that would then be given to ministries supplying shoes to the homeless.  And…they did.  All of them.  The entire church came forward and took off their shoes and hit the streets of LA barefooted.  It was amazing to see.

As I was watching this at home, I showed it to Shannon and her jaw dropped.  I said, “What about you, could you do that at CCC?  Could you give up your shoes?”  And she said, “No, I’m not sure I could do that.  What about you?  What if you had to give up your boots?”

Whoa.  My boots?  Not my boots.  I love my boots.  I only have one pair and I wear them all the time.  I really don’t want to give up my boots, they’re mine and they fit me.  I’ve broken them in.  They’re mine.

And there it is.  God so loved the world that He gave up His only Son as a sacrifice.  And I am not willing to give up my boots.

What about you?  Are you willing to give your “boots” on the alter?  What is it that God is calling you to do?  What ministry?  What mission trip?  How much giving – the question isn’t “how much money do you make” but rather, “how much are you giving away?”

Go back and read the first few chapters of David Platt’s book Radical if you want to understand this concept further.  Members of his church sold their homes near the Country Club to move to the inner city.  Members gave up their medical practices to go into full-time mission work.  They gave up their boots.

What about you?  Are you willing to give up your boots?  Are you willing to embrace radical generosity right now?

LiveUP!   LiveFree

ManSchool this week

Please read Chapter 8 in Uprising for this week.  This week we are going to be talking about generosity – appropriate this Christmas season that this topic is upon us.  Keith touched on this in his sermon on Sunday.

We’re going to focus on “Living the generative life”.

See you Wednesday morning at 6am.

Live in Humility.  Live with Gratitude.  LiveUP!