Reminder about Sunday’s service & ManSchool

We do NOT meet tomorrow morning.  ManSchool kicks off next Wednesday, February 5th.  We are going to go through Erwin McManus’ book Wide Awake.  But we are going to spend the first two weeks with his call to all of us from The Barbarian Way.  We will have a video of him speaking on the Barbarian Way and I’ll have some summary notes to give you.  It’s a great intro to Wide Awake.  It’s going to be a great Spring session of ManSchool.

Sunday morning – is our chance to tell the ManSchool story to the church.  Ryan Walker and David Burnell are going to speak to the church about what ManSchool has meant to them.  If you have been coming to ManSchool any over the past year+, I’d like you to stand with us on stage.  We’ll be standing behind Ryan and David as they speak to visually display this community of men, this band of brothers, this tribe.

Logistics – Derrick wants us at the Church at 8:20am so we can walk through how it will work.  All of us will gather in the Green Room behind the stage on the left side, go through a walk through and then be in there with the staff as they pray and prepare for the service.  8:20am…this Sunday morning!  The Church will sing the first song and then we’ll come out and do our part.  I need you to commit to this and to commit to staying for the first 10 minutes of the second service as well.  For those of you with small children, this will be a little inconvenient and you may need to bring two cars so you don’t have to bring your family so early.  Please try to park across the street at Muscogee Glass.  We will have a booth in the lobby to sign men up for the Carver Banquet and ManSchool.

If you haven’t done so already, let me know below if you will stand with us as we tell the story.

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Please Read & Respond – a call to action

We have some business to take care of and I need your response to 2 calls to service

First…

Sunday February 2ndSuper Bowl Sunday…10 days from now…

We will get a chance to tell the ManSchool story during the church service.  Two of our men will speak for a few minutes each about what ManSchool has meant to them.  One of them will share a powerful word from his wife of what she has observed in him over the past two years from participating in ManSchool.  Both men have awesome stories to share and are great communicators.

But here is the cool part – we want all the men who have participated in ManSchool over the past two years to come up on stage as a group and stand behind our men that are speaking.  This morning about 20 men committed to do this … in both services.

So my call to you is this, if you have come to ManSchool any over the past few years, can you commit to be there that Sunday and come and stand as a group?

We think it will be a powerful effect to have a group of man standing together to visualize the “community of men” fighting for one another and standing together.  We think it will help those men considering ManSchool (which starts that Wednesday the 5th) to see all of us there.

Second…

The Carver Banquet is 6 weeks away – Saturday March 1st.  That is not a lot of time.  We need 60 men to volunteer.  So far about 10 have signed up.  We need 6-8 Greeters, 15+ Servers, 5-6 Kitchen help, 5-6 Grill help, 10-15 Friday night set up and 15-20 Saturday night clean-up and restoration of the sanctuary to Sunday form.

You can serve in more than one place i.e. Friday night set-up and serving during the meal.

I also need team captains for Servers, Set-up and Clean-up.

Will you serve?

Please respond below in the comment section to both of these questions.     PS – if you agree to the Sunday morning standing as a group call, when Keith calls us up, I need you to get up and move!  We plan on showing a movie clip as we walk up and it will be awkward for me to have to call you up once we get up there.  We also need you to stay for both services at least through our part of the second service.

Wisdom

Last week, we discussed Wisdom from the book Uprising.  Tomorrow morning, we will conclude this study, take a week off and the new ManSchool will resume on Wednesday February 5th.

Wisdom – We need to stop destroying our life, friends and our future with stupid decisions.  Ouch.  That’s direct and not so nice.  But it is a fact.  A cold, hard reality.  Too many of us are repeating stupid decisions and wondering why our outcomes aren’t any better.  One bad decision is just that, a bad decision.  Repeated patterns of bad decisions are a choice and are, stupid.  Sow/Reap.  What goes around/Comes around.  Choices today/The Future you create.

Solomon was told by God to ask “for anything” and he chose wisdom.  He didn’t ask for money, power, prestige, position, etc. but rather wisdom.  God rewarded him for seeking wisdom above all else.

Oh Lord, that I may become wise.

Solomon cites an example of the power of great wisdom in Ecclesiastes 9 when a poor but wise man was defending a small city against a great king.  The city was saved by his wisdom.  The quiet words of the wise.  Solomon realized that wisdom was better than all the weapons of war.

Oh Lord, that we may become wise men.

How big is your vision?  When you finally see what it is God is calling you to do, finally embrace your calling, you will have an overwhelming sense of inadequacy.  Think of Moses.  He couldn’t speak without stuttering and God called him to march into Pharaoh and demand him to “Let my people go”.  With the magnitude of this calling, Moses was sure of his own smallness.  If you think you are bigger than your vision, then your vision is too small.

We need to tap into the power of one man + God.  one man + God.  Jesus showed us that one man + God could save the entire world.  If we live with a bold purpose devoted to God, we’re going to go to war and we’ll wonder, “How exactly does God expect me to do all this?” and that is precisely the point.  God wants us out of our comfort zone and boldly stepping out on faith.

And oh, money isn’t the key.  If we start something with “If God will fund this new mission with $2 million, then we’ll launch“.  No.  New missions are usually launched with a passion for the people, a passion for the need and hearts ready to serve.  Think of CCC’s mission in Phenix City.  If upfront money was the key to us doing this, it’d be years before we went.  No, we must go and Trust.  Trust that God will provide.  Trust that God will move on people’s hearts and Trust that He will provide all we need.  He wants us depending on Him, not money.

God doesn’t give us resources so we can trust Him.  He gives resources to those who Trust Him.  Provision does not come before Vision.  God looks for people who will go with nothing because He then knows if they will do that, then He can Trust them with everything.  The moment you start dreaming of how you can impact the world, God starts putting it on people’s hearts to help and come alongside.  He has unlimited resources for those who walk in courage.

So I wonder, “What are the endless resources waiting to be poured out into your life – right now – just waiting for you to step out into a world without resources?”

What is it that you are being called to do?  Your choices are informed by your character and your character shapes your future.  We are given the responsibility for the cause/input.  We don’t have power over the effect/outcome.  What kind of man to you want to be?  Do you want to be exceptional?  Do you want to radically reshape your future and align yourself with the King of Kings?  Will you surrender to His will – or – will you insist on remaining in control?

God has great plans dreamed for you.  A hero inside of you is just waiting to be awakened, just waiting to be called upon.

Will you LiveUP?     (by the way, if you have liked this post, it is along the lines of what we’ll be doing in our new ManSchool starting on February 5)   Here are the slides…


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You have a role to play…

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After ManSchool this morning, a brother shared his heart with me.  We had discussed at the end of our session this notion of the vision for men’s ministry and this burden felt for the hearts of the men in our church.  The discussion essentially centered on “blessed to be a blessing” – that we have been getting so much out of ManSchool and God is calling us out to reach other men and to step it UP.

I will have another post summarizing our session but one of our men said something to me that is worth unpacking a bit…

He has been struggling with an issue in his life and has taken good steps to get the problem behind him.  But it has been a long slog to work out of the thick mud he finds himself in.  To paraphrase, he said, “Richard I want you to know that I hear the call and want to engage but I feel shame over this situation and feel like it prevents me from stepping up…”  He introduced this by mentioning something about being insignificant.

This is what must be unpacked – this feeling of insignificance and shame that prevents us from stepping into the role God has for us.

It is a lie.  Straight from the gates of hell.  The enemy…the foul one…strikes at us in our most weak and vulnerable spot.  He holds our past mistakes against us.  He convinces me that everyone in the room knows that in reality, I am just a hack, a fraud, a poser, a failure.  He’s a liar.  The father of all lies.

First, my friend he is significant.  Very significant.  Significant to me personally (he truly is) and to our group as a whole.  He contributes.  He’s wise and I admire his faith.  I don’t care about his mistake – at all.  Frankly, I could care less.  I care about him.  I see in him the potential.  I see the great things God is doing and can do in him.  There is no shame.  Truth be told, if you guys knew all my dirty laundry…   We all have that.

What we have to do as men is come alongside our brothers.  We have to know them, know their heart, see them in action and build relationships with them.  And so, when the liar shows up, we can speak truth into that immediately.

Men, God does not see your shame.  He sees your restoration.  God dreams great dreams for you.  He has fearfully and wonderfully made you.  He installed wonderful gifts, talents, traits and abilities in you and He made you unique from every other man on this earth.  He wants you dependent – fully dependent – on Him.  He does not want you leaning back on your past mistakes and, in effect, depending on them.  Because that is what we do, we lean on those past mistakes as a crutch, an excuse to not engage.  Do you remember Top Gun?  Maverick lost Goose because he got in too close to a jet wash and made a mistake, a huge mistake.  When the Soviets showed up coming after his wing man, he needed to engage to help him and he couldn’t.  He backed off and disengaged.  He went passive.  Here is that word we all hate, he went limp.

That is exactly what Satan wants.  He wants to hold my past mistakes against me.  He wants to accuse me, mock me and shame me so I will disengage and just pull off into the weeds of obscurity.  No!  No!  In sweet Jesus’ name, No!

It is time to engage.  This my friends is the power of ManSchool, the power of community.  All of us fighting for each other, seeing the vision for each others lives and calling each other UP to what God has in store for us.

If you’re missing ManSchool, you’re missing a blessing.  I’m telling you, something great is happening here.

LiveUP!

Are you a grass-eating man?

Ryan Walker shared this with me in response to the post about technology in Japan and the decay of relationships, sex and manhood in general, he makes some incredibly good points…

“Loved the post from last night.  I am not “addicted” to technology; I don’t have a tablet, my smart phone is very basic and used very little for surfing, I have a Facebook page that I look at every 3-4 months, I don’t have any other social media accounts, and my online usage is very limited (and monitored by Kelly).  That being said, I wish I could unplug even more!

After reading your post, I began to think about the concepts of unplugging from a spiritual perspective.  When we are “plugged” into all this technology, it means we are losing/stealing the power of the Holy Spirit, much like overloading a circuit breaker.  In order to receive God’s full potential for us, we need to “unplug” all these distractions.  When we do that there will be an uninterrupted flow of power from the Almighty!  We need to have a dedicated line of power, used for nothing else than our communication and relationship with Christ.  When this happens, we become the men God wants us to be; better husbands, better fathers, better providers, better leaders…better men.

We tend to use Christ’s power as a surge protector for our lives; protecting us from getting overloaded from technology.  If we would just unplug from all this technology and plug into the authentic, original power source, this world be changed.  It would be like receiving fresh water from a mountain stream; unadulterated, pure, refreshing water…

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We’ve forgotten what that tastes like.  We’ve forgotten what it means to be a man.  We’ve forgotten what it feels like to be healthy…spiritually healthy.  We have turned away from our first love.  And for what?!  A tablet?!  A false sense of self-worth through social media?!

The picture of a “grass-eating man”, with his head down, shoulders drooped, with no life, no vigor, defeated is embarrassing.  What happened to the man who’s head was high, shoulders back, standing tall, filled with pride (the good kind) because he had accomplished something. His life had meaning, a sense of purpose. He was filled with power…power from the Holy Spirit!

this is what I’m talking about…

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not this…the grass-eating man, defeated, lost…

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Excellent work Ryan.  Way to LiveUP!

coming events, manschool, carver and retreat…

For those of you that participated in the fall ManSchool studying UPrising, we will resume next Wednesday morning the 15th at 6am in the Milgen Room.  Any man, even if you haven’t been coming, is welcome.  One week might give you something you really need to hear.  We will meet for two weeks, break for one and start our Spring ManSchool on February 5th.  Topic is still being formulated.

“I went to ManSchool once, I didn’t get anything out of it.”

We get out of life what we put into it.  We get out of our faith what we invest in it.  One week doesn’t qualify as much of an investment.

“I can’t get up that early in the morning.”

I used to say the same thing and yet, I’d never tried it.  Come on.  We’ll get up early to hunt or fish.  We’ll get up early to travel to a SEC football game.  We’ll get up early for an important business meeting in Atlanta.  Again, you will get out of your faith what you put into it.  Given what God did for us, I’m willing to at least suck it up and commit to ManSchool.

“My work might take me out of town and you know, I work really hard.”

Your work or your faith?  Lay them side by side and ask yourself where you are placing your priorities.  If you travel, you can still come to ManSchool.  Come on the weeks you are in town.  If you miss a week it is OK.  Come back the next week.  Stay committed to your small group of men.  For me, my small group is crucial for continuity, stability and accountability.

“I’ll come but I’m not staying for a small group.”

That’s your choice but the small group is where the power is.  Remarkable – I mean truly remarkable – breakthroughs have happened and are happening around ManSchool in these small groups.  If you don’t stay and invest in a small group, you will miss the power of what is happening.

“My wife needs me to take the kids to school.”

If your wife works, that may be the case and we totally understand.  But ask yourself, ask her – could we do one day a week where I am in a community of faith of men fighting to LiveUP, fighting to become the men God intends for us to be?  I’m betting your wife would LOVE for you to be at ManSchool.

I know, I know.  I get all of these.  Some of them are totally valid and we absolutely support you in the role you are playing but more many of us, these are frankly, just excuses.  Something great designed just for men, run by men is happening in our midst.  It’s yours for the taking.  If you invest in your faith, if you invest in this community of men, you will reap a rich return.  Junk in, junk out.  Hard work in, rich results will follow.

Carver Banquet is now tentatively set for Saturday March 1st.  That’s very soon and we need to get cracking.  We need team leaders – someone to quarterback the set up, the clean up, the greeters, the servers and the food.  I need a man to step UP and be willing to quarterback the entire event – that man is in charge of the team leaders and each team leader is responsible for his task and we help him build his team.  But one man has to be the “go to” man.  This event won’t just “happen”.  We do it.  It’s on us and it is totally amazing to see it happen and is richly rewarding to be a part of.  Don’t miss this.  Step UP into leadership.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Lead.

Men’s Retreat – is tentatively set for Friday May 2nd – Sunday May 4th.  That may change but right now, that looks like the date.  We’ll have much more coming on this too but we’d love to have a big group of men willing to invest a weekend in their faith.  You won’t be disappointed.  Oh and if your immediate thought is, “I can’t do that, I’m coaching little league” – that’s OK.  You can come on Friday, come back to town on Saturday for the game and rejoin the group.  We want you there.

That’s all for now.  Please comment below on your availability to serve at the Carver banquet, the area you are interested in and if you want to lead a team, let me know that too.

Thanks, we’re going to have a great 2014.  I’m thrilled with our church theme for 2014 of Abound.  It fits perfectly with LiveUP.

is technology killing us?

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This one goes down as some serious food-for-thought.  As you may know, Japan has been mired in a recession that has lasted for more than 20 years.  The nation is aging much faster than the U.S. and their population declined last year.  Financially, the nation has an enormous debt load and a crushing burden of providing resources to their retirees with a declining work force.  It is quite plausible that the world’s next financial crisis will start in Japan.

So with that as a back drop, consider this…

Japan’s under-40’s appear to be losing interest in conventional relationships.  Millions aren’t dating and increasing numbers have lost interest in sex.  45% of Japanese women age 16-24 are not interested or despise sexual contact.  More than 25% of men 16-24 feel the same way.  They despise sexual contact.  What?

Is this a picture of what is to come in America?  Across Asia, Europe and America, people are marrying later or not at all, birth rates are falling, single occupant households are on the rise and young people in their mid-late 20’s are still living at home.

In Japan 61% of the unmarried men  and 49% of the women ages 18-34 are not in any kind of romantic relationship – an increase of 10% in just 5 years.  Another study indicated 1/3 of those under 30 had never dated at all.

They are saying they “don’t see the point of love and don’t believe it can lead anywhere.”  Relationships have become too hard.  Marriage is a minefield of unattractive choices.

Japanese men have become less career driven and less solvent financially.  Japanese women have become more independent and ambitious.  So, in short, the women are deciding they really don’t need men while the men are indifferent and non-motivated.  The sexes are spiraling away from each other.  They are turning to instant gratification with pornography, virtual girlfriends and anime cartoons.  Romantic commitments seem to represent burden and drudgery.  Young men are turned away by the huge financial burden and the expectations of the larger family.

Japan, as you know, is incredibly advanced technologically.  They are on the cutting edge of creating virtual worlds and online communications.  Their smart phone apps are the world’s most imaginative.  They have created a world where, frankly, it is just easier to escape into an artificial world than it is to deal with the hassle of real people.

Are we far behind?

I am deeply troubled by the advance of technology and its implications on American society.  Most nights we sit on our iPads and disengage from communicating with our spouses or kids.  Our smart phone is always at our side.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat, etc.  Texting…oh, texting.

We have daughters that are almost 18 and 21.  We have spent years trying to teach them that texting isn’t communicating.  As hard as we’ve fought against the surging tide, we lost the war.  Our girls were the last to get phones in their grade and the last ones to get texting.  Our oldest didn’t start until she was 16 and yet today, she is a complete social media addict and she admits it.  We have seen firsthand that kids don’t want to pick up the phone and talk – instead – they try to handle confrontations, break ups, dates, etc. via texting.  They chronicle their lives on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  They measure self-worth by how many (and how quickly) “likes” they get to their latest Instragram.  When you post something and only 11 people like it and when Susie posts something and almost instantly 173 people like her post, your self worth takes a nose dive.  And then you open up her post and scroll through all 173 to see who they are and wonder why they aren’t liking your thoughts – or – why they don’t like you.

My daughters started this nonsense at 16.  Today, 2nd graders have iPhones and they text.  4th graders have Facebook and Instagram.  Can you imagine the cliques and bullying that now go on with 4th graders via their “smart” phones?

We’ve talked a lot about pornography and its devastation but can you imagine what it will do to a 4th grader empowered by his brand new iPhone 5S he just had to get for Christmas?  These kids are not emotionally prepared for the damage that this technology will do.  My 21 year old isn’t.  I’m not sure I am.

I shudder to think about myself as a 3rd grader with an iPhone.  I shudder to think about my teenage years with all those hormones racing and having unlimited internet on my phone and my computer in my room after my parents had gone to sleep.  Had I been exposed at 12-13 to what is out there today free for the taking…

Please men, I implore you, please take a look at this in your home.  Please.  As we start 2014, ask some tough questions.  Ask yourself how much you really need all this technology.  Do you really have to have it?  Do you and your wife sit and stare at your iPads every night?  Is any good coming from it?  What is this stuff doing to our families?  And as for your role as a Father, ask it.  Ask the tough question.  Does your teenage daughter really have to have texting?  Would she forever be a social outcast without it?  It is frequently said that “this is way this generation communicates.”  Ummm, no it isn’t.  What they are doing isn’t communication.  As for your teenage son or for that matter, your 8-9 year old son — please don’t give him a smart phone.  Please don’t let him have a computer or iPad in his room.  Please don’t assume he can’t get on the internet through the Playstation or Wii.  He can.

You have to fight for your family and I’m afraid, you’re going to have to fight a technological war.  To ignore this and just wish it away is foolish.

The article on Japan included this comment – “It’s too troublesome (when he’s asked why he doesn’t have a girlfriend).  I don’t have a huge salary to go on dates and I don’t want the responsibility of a woman hoping it might lead to marriage.”  Japan’s media has dubbed these men “soshoku danshi” which literally means “grass-eating men”.

Don’t be a “grass-eating man”.  Man UP and fight for your family.  Realize what is transpiring around you.  These are dangerous times.  LiveUP