Wild at Heart – warfare pt. 3

Our primary tool in the battle is Truth, the Word of God.  Speak the Truth over yourself – “I am a son of God”.   “I am forgiven”.   “The Father delights in me.”  “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  “I’m not a screw up.  God doesn’t make junk.”  Speak these things over yourself and against the enemy.  Then, command him to leave in the name of Jesus.  Pray down Angel armies over the four corners of your home.  Claim your home.  Name it and claim it.

                 This how a man rises up.

It takes a battle.  Much of our training is in hardship.  We cannot shy away from the battle but rather we stand up to it, practice and strengthen our resolve.

Luke 8 – Jesus comes to a possessed man.  He rebukes the evil spirit and it didn’t come out.  Get that – Jesus commands it and it doesn’t respond.  So, Jesus goes harder after demanding “what is your name” and when He is told Legion, Jesus understands this is more than just one foul spirit, it is an army.  So when we face that heaviness, thickness, oppression, we should ask, “Lord, what is it I am dealing with here?  Show me.  What do I pray here?  What is going on here?”  Sometimes, prayers will just bounce off.  They won’t work.  Don’t be disheartened.  Sharpen your sword and fight for it.  “Jesus, why isn’t this breaking through?”

Hebrews 5:14 – “Those who are mature have trained their senses to discern between good and evil.”

You can get very good at this.  Don’t believe the lie that you can’t or that you’re ineffective.  The devil came at Jesus in the wilderness and was taking scripture and twisting it to try to deceive Jesus.  Notice that Jesus confronts him directly by quoting the Truth back to him.

So why is this so hard?  Ever since Adam we’ve had to deal with the false self, the poser in us.  Adam was passive.  He folded by not fighting for Eve.  And ever since then, men fudge.  We dodge a little bit.  We don’t really want the direct intentionality that life requires.  As when a brother is really struggling and asks for prayer, usually we’ll sit around and talk about it, talk through it and then, only at the end, will we throw up a quick prayer.  Then we wonder why prayer isn’t working.

                The intentional is crucial.

The warrior requires it – that fierce intentionality of saying, “No, I’m going to do the hard thing and address this.  I will not back off or rationalize my way out.  I’m going to open this up, ask the hard questions and I will keep dealing with it even if it takes all week, all month, all year or all of this next decade.  I will fight for it.”

Think about that statement in the context of a frustration you have with your wife.

Resolve & Intention – grow it, cultivate it and it will grow in you.  Remember what you feed grows, what you starve dies.  If you will have resolve and intention to rise up and battle, the desire to do so will grow.  What we’re after is John 10:10 … Life.  This isn’t to be experts in spiritual warfare, no, the goal is life.  I want my wife to be free.  I want to be free.  I want to pray for my children effectively.  I want to advance the Kingdom, free other people and restore others.  The goal is to get good at warfare so that we can get freedom and life.

Ephesians 4:26-27 – don’t get angry, don’t let the sun go down on your anger and give the enemy a foothold.  We can give the enemy a claim in our life through unresolved emotional issues, anger never dealt with, and it becomes entrenched and the enemy gets a foothold.  Agreements, our own sin, unhealed places in us, etc.  People who appear in your dreams who shouldn’t be there – bring Jesus in, pray the Cross of Jesus between you and that person, break all soul ties.

Movie clip from the Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers.  “Breathe the free air again”.  That call to live and be free.  As they ride into that kingdom, they can feel the oppression.  The authority of the kingdom has been taken.  If you take out a king (or a pastor, or a CEO, or a father) you take out his kingdom.  We are warriors of the kingdom.  We should “clank” as we walk from the armor we carry ready for the battle.  As they tried to free that King, their first attempt failed.  The oppression was dark and deeper than they thought.  So they hit it again harder.

All of this seems a little creepy, a little kooky.  I get it.  But realize that everything you want in this life … you’re going to have to fight for.  Whether it is intimacy, a band of brothers, sexual wholeness and a restored sexuality with your wife, your career, mission and calling, your health and even your family vacation …

                    YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO FIGHT FOR IT.


prayer to break agreements…

This an exercise in prayer to break those agreements we’ve made with the enemy.  You’re asking God to reveal these agreements to you.  When He reveals them…break them.  They will come to you in prayer sometimes in hearing sentences in your heard like “you’re such a ____ idiot”.  It may be a feeling and God will remind you of a persistent feeling of shame, guilt or fear.  Sometimes, you’ll actually remember a scene and play it out again in your mind.  It may be a scene of a father wound, something an older brother did to you or against you, a wound from your Mom or a grandparent, teacher, coach, boss or old girlfriend.  You’ll have that scene rush back to you in vivid detail.  Other ways agreements will be revealed – what are the phrases you constantly say to yourself?  You know, your own self-talk, things that you thought were just you speaking.  “You’re a failure”.  “You’ll never match up”.  “You are a disappointment”.  “You can never do anything right”, etc.

Lord, I come under the refuge of Jesus Christ.  I am safe in the shelter of God.  I take my refuge in your Cross, your resurrection and in your ascension. 

I simply ask you, Spirit of Truth, reveal to me, show me the agreements I have been making.

Strip away the fog.  I bring the work of my Lord Jesus Christ, the power of His Cross, His shed blood, the power of His resurrection, the power of His authority and His throne against all numbness, dullness, malaise, all forms of fog, all veils that are surrounding my spirit, soul, body or mind.  I cut off this numbness.

Jesus, you say I have the mind of Jesus Christ.  I unite my mind to your mind, my heart to your heart, my will to your will.  Again Holy Spirit, show me.  What are the agreements I have been making with my enemy?  What lies have I believed?

(silent…listen…be still)

show me Lord Jesus, show me.  Expose those things.  Come.  Shine your light here…

(silent…listen…be still)

As you start to get clarity … break them in Jesus’ name.

Lord, show me the agreements I’ve made – even just today or this week.  Show me the agreements I’ve made about you Father.

Show me what has hounded me all my life.  What is it Father?  What has hounded me all my life?

I break this agreement, these agreements in the authority of Jesus Christ.  I renounce it.  I renounce all the ways I’ve given the enemy a place in my life.  I renounce it.  Jesus come into these places.  Bring Truth.  Bring Life.

If this is connected to a wound, Jesus come into this wound and heal.  I renounce fear, self-hatred, confusion and disqualification.  I renounce every agreement I’ve made as a man that I can’t do this, that is “too much”.  I renounce every agreement I’ve made that I’ll never trust anyone again.  I renounce every agreement I’ve made against You Father – that You don’t come through, that I can’t trust You, that You don’t really love me.

I renounce every agreement I’ve made with fear, agreements I’ve made with safety and control.  Forgive me of that.  I renounce every agreement I’ve made with my enemy both known and unknown, both seen and unseen in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ.  I break these agreements.  I submit to God.  Spirit of Truth search this out, show me.  I send all this to my Lord Jesus Christ.

In your name, AMEN.

warfare part 2

From the church’s devotional book found in the lobby from yesterday’s devotional … “Words can hurt or heal, bless or blister, destroy or deliver, tear down or build up.  The tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:2)   Perhaps you’ve been on the receiving end of a message meant to murder.  “You’re not smart enough…thin enough…fast enough…good enough…a real Christian wouldn’t think such things.”  (have you heard things like this?)  You speak life when you say, “You matter to me.  I like you just the way you are…your life counts.  You were created for a purpose.  God loves you.  You’re incredibly valuable to Him.”  You can become the voice of God’s grace over others and over yourself when you speak such things.

Warfare rages around you and at you.  The enemy speaks foul things against us daily.  We have to fight back.  We fight back with truth.  He twists and lies and we start to agree with him in the small, subtle things.  It gives him a foothold, an entrance.  He will exploit that entrance.  He’ll take a small, subtle thing you agree with and he’ll magnify it.  Stop it at the entrance.  When you start to hear these lies like “you’re not smart enough” or “you really don’t matter”, stop it right there with the truth.  Call it out.  “No.  That’s a lie.  You’re a liar.  I am worthy.  God loves me.  He made me and he delights in me.  His Word says I am “fearfully and wonderfully made”.  He made me for a purpose…a divine purpose.  I am a powerful warrior with God behind me.  My life counts.  I am valuable to the Lord Most High.”  When a cheap shot attack and lie comes at you, speak power and truth right back at it.  Renounce it.  Don’t agree with it.  Negate it and do that with the Word of God.  You’ll see a change in how you see yourself and how quickly the negativity can turn.  If you don’t fight it, it will sneak in so be “on alert”.  And…fight.

For next week, please read chapters 8 & 9.  Here are the notes from today…

John describes it sometimes coming as a fog, foam or marsh mellow.  It is this thick oppression that comes over you like I experienced last week.  The enemy knows how to work you.  He reads your mail.  He knows your weak spots, wounds and where you are vulnerable and he’s coming after those places.  John’s agreement of “It’s all up to me” – he said it “isn’t an agreement“, he raged, “It’s the truth!!”.  Morgan was there to say, “I think that’s the issue.”  This points to the need for a band of brothers and why you don’t need to do life alone.  You need good men, strong men, Godly men in your inner circle – men who can look you in the eye and know something is not right.

Warrior training is learning to bring your strength against this despite how you feel or how real/true it appears.  Break the agreement.  Renounce the agreement.  Ask the Father to take it away and forgive you for giving into the agreement and believing the lie.

If you don’t break these agreements, they can literally ruin a decade of your life or in that man’s case with his agreement of “I’ve married the wrong woman”, it can rule an entire life.  They start small.  We make agreements all the time.  Again…they start small.  Don’t give the enemy a foothold.  He’ll take a foothold left unattended and wreak havoc.  We all have these agreements – agreements with fear, with shame, with guilt, seduction, self-loathing, “I’m just tired”, “I always screw up”, etc.

Craig made an agreement to “avoid the wacky” – the wacky of conversational intimacy with God, warfare, having a good heart, etc.  He sees that living with this agreement has shaped so much of his life.  God came to him and said, “Craig I’m not asking you to be wacky.  What I’m asking is for you to follow me.  Don’t try and control this.  Just follow me.”

Morgan – the first time he heard this, he thought it was out there.  He never heard this in theology classes.  It felt true to him but he needed to push into it.  He got alone with God and read through the book of Mark.  Spiritual warfare is all over the book of Mark.  Deep spiritual warfare.  It was real back then, it is real now.  Later, God nudged him with Morgan’s agreement over his self-hatred.  He picked up this pattern in his life of his wife disappointing him, he’d get mad and then he’d get angry at himself… “you’re better than this”.  And this rage would cover over him about himself and then he’d go silent and that presented all kinds of issues in his marriage.  He noticed he was always getting sick at these boot camps and the men were praying about it and John asked him, “How are you doing with the self-hatred thing?”  Morgan – “Oh I’m doing fine with that.”  John – “how do you feel about your body?”  Morgan – “oh, I hate my body, I always have”.  John – “that’s a problem”.  Morgan had to renounce this long agreement he’d had about his body and his hatred of it.

Bart’s plane crash and his reaction as plane was slamming into the runway – pounding his fists on the dash saying “you worthless piece of shit”.  As they later unpacked that, Bart said that his older brother used to beat him up a lot and as he was doing it, he’d say that phrase to Bart.  Bart had a profound agreement buried deep in his soul that only surfaced after an accident.

These things, if left unchecked, run deep.

1 Peter 5: 8-9 – “Resist the devil”   James 4:7 – “Submit to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

You have a warrior heart for a reason.  You’re going to need to fight.  The passivity, checked-out, “Oh I don’t know” or “I don’t want to deal with this, why bother?”  That will never set you free.  Breaking agreements, fighting against this and taking a stand.  That will set you free. The way God trains warriors is to put them into battle.  Most guys look at life and interpret what is happening as God abandoning them.  He hasn’t abandoned you – this is war.

One of the enemy’s most effective tools has been religion.  Religion that veils, that takes out the heart, takes out masculinity, religion that clouds spiritual warfare, guys who’ve spent their entire lives in church and never heard the voice of God … that’s a problem.  Church is supposed to help you to God not numb you to God.  Jesus was in constant conflict with the religious leadership – the highly religious.  The religious “fog” has taken the church out.  Look at Galatians – after a short while of Jesus, they turned back to the law, the highly religious law.

Bottom line is this – don’t give the enemy a foothold.  You’re inviting him in to do great damage to you.

what you feed … grows (a thought on agreements)

We’ve talked about this a lot in our past sessions – “What you feed grows.  What you starve dies”.

When we think about these agreements we’ve made, think about it this way.  The enemy will use distortion, half-truths, fear, shame, etc. to spin the events of your life and through this, he’ll begin to lead you to some conclusions about your life – “I am a screw-up” or “I’ll never amount to anything” or “My wife is such a _____” or “God never comes through for me”.

He offers up a lie, twisted in a way to be so personal to your story that it starts to seem so “real” to you.

And … you start to agree with it.  “Yep, that’s pretty much true, my marriage will never change, she’ll always be this way”

If you agree with it, you’ve made an agreement.

My thought for you today is this, if you continue to feed this agreement, it will continue to grow and as we’ve seen, eventually it can shape your whole life.  You need to starve it.  It is time to ask God to show you the agreements you’ve made about yourself, those things that you find yourself continually speaking over yourself or the things you constantly say about others in your life … and … you need to break them.

Starve them.  Give them no power.  STOP saying them over and over.  Stop it.  Fight back.  You’re not a screw up or a failure.  God has redeemed you.  He is about the process of restoring you.  So when the statement comes back up, don’t you dare feed it.  No, you knock it back to hell as a lie from the father of all lies.  You’re going to have to fight this but if you will stop saying it over yourself and renounce it as a lie and invite Jesus to take that agreement away from you, you’ll be amazed at how quickly it can be broken.

much more on this next Wednesday…

Warfare – session 1

here are the slides from today …. W@H warfare 1

Before I forget, please get your copy of Wild at Heart and be reading Chapter 8 and 9.  They will help you with next week’s video and we’ll be discussing these chapters the week after next.

This morning, wow.  You saw first-hand what spiritual warfare looks like.  The assault started on me last night about 1am.  I woke up about every 30 minutes fearing I would oversleep.  Out of bed at 5am, I got distracted trying to load a song onto my phone to listen to while I shaved.  Frustration came.  Confusion.  Loss of focus.  Before I knew it, it was 5:35 and I still wasn’t ready.  In the kitchen around 5:40 and I foolishly decided to try to whip up a protein shake.  Total mess.  I was shaky, disoriented and it almost felt like an out-of-body experience.  Driving down River Road, I got behind a slow moving logging truck loaded with fresh cut pine trees.  At 5:45 in the morning!  Coming into the church I was still disoriented.  Thankfully Derrick took charge, loaded up music and got everyone started.  My computer didn’t work.  None of my browsers would load.  Nothing was working.  Finally, it came together and we had a good session.  But men, that is spiritual warfare.  Frustration, distraction, confusion, disoriented, shaky, etc.  It felt like I was in a fog or trying to walk through a wall of marsh mellows.

It is no coincidence that we met to launch into spiritual warfare and warfare raged against us.  Thankfully, as He always does, God took what Satan meant for evil and He turned it into good.  It was a great illustration, in person, right in front of you of spiritual warfare.

The truth is, I knew better.  I’ve struggled with sleep the night before most launches of manschool.  I’ve never faced a battle like this one today around manschool but I should have known.  I needed to prepare for battle yesterday.  Realizing what I was going into and what was at stake, prayer and the full armor of God should have been in place last night.  It wasn’t.  But I will assure you, it will be next week.

“You have an enemy that prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour.”  …to maul.  He doesn’t sleep, he doesn’t eat, all he does is look for his next victim.  I was vulnerable and he took me out. 

The key take away today from John’s talk was the recognition that spiritual warfare is a given.  It’s all through the Gospels.  What makes us think that stuff only happened 2,000 years ago?  No, it rages today – now perhaps more than ever.  You are being assaulted on all sides, all day.  Your kids are.  Your wife is.  In fact, what better way to take out a warrior man than to go after his wife?  Remember, Satan came after Eve, not Adam.

So it is coming and we are commanded to arm ourselves.  “Resist the devil and he will flee”.  He’s coming and it is your job to resist, your job to arm yourself and prepare and it is your job to seek allies to help and guard your flanks against the attack.

The enemy’s tactic is to distort.  He knows your weaknesses and he knows your story.  He knows where you’re vulnerable, where your past hurts hide and he will come after those.  He will take your story and twist it.  He is the father of all lies and he will spin your story to whisper “You are a failure” or “You’ll never amount to anything” or “You see, God never comes through for you.  He comes through for Jack but never for you”.  He uses deception, distortion, malaise, confusion, guilt, shame or fear to personalize his attack on you.  (many of these came at me this morning) 

What happens next is crucial.  We believe it.  It seems so personalized that we settle on the conclusion, “it must be the truth.”  He’s a master at his deception.

And this is where we get in huge trouble … we agree with him.  We make an agreement.  Agreements are deadly – like the man this morning who was convinced that was God telling him on his honeymoon, “you married the wrong person”.  The agreement became the filter through which he saw the rest of his marriage.  Refusing to believe in warfare and convinced it was God, he lost his marriage.  Agreements shape your life.  You have way more in place than you realize.  I uncover new agreements all the time.

Why is it you feel the way you do?  Why are you convinced _______ is true?  What opinion have you settled in with about your wife?  What are the things you keep saying to yourself under your breath?

These are agreements and I will bet even as you read this that you immediately realize how the “voices” in your past have shaped your life.  We’re going to go much deeper, much farther into this frontier over the coming weeks.  For some of you, this is a completely new concept.  That’s great.  Push into it.  The last thing the enemy wants is for you to drag some long held belief you have spoken over yourself out of the dark basement of your mind and into the light of truth.  He thrives in the darkness.  Jesus heals in the light.  Open this up, get it out and figure out the root of these agreements you have.  We don’t seek to do this alone and it is why a “band of brothers” or a “Tribe of men” is so crucial to your walk as a man.  A Christian man attempting to do life alone, an island to himself, is a sitting duck.

We have much more territory to venture into.  I promise you, next week, I will be well equipped and armed for battle.  You need to be too. 

Excurvatus Ex Sea life lived outward

Notes from fall Manschool kick-off

We had a great night last night with 50 men gathering to eat, fellowship and prepare for the fall Manschool.  Coach Hugh Freeze gave a great talk.  If you go back to the June 25, 2015 post on the blog, there is a summary of his talk and a link to the video.  He referenced his daily discipline of being in the Word – what he called Divine Mentor.  If you go to http://www.lifejournal.cc it will take you to the online journaling site.  They really encourage you (as we have) to journal.  On that page there is a link on the right side to “today’s life journal reading” and that is what Coach Freeze uses daily.

What I love about that Hugh Freeze talk is that he is intentional.  He’s intentional in his pursuit of God.  Intentional in pursuing his daughters.  He knows, apart from God, he’s an accident waiting to happen.  “We men are one step away from stupid every day”.

His talk is a wake-up call.  The question tonight is just how intentional have you been with God?

Eldredge says, “We are all just branches, after all, in search of a Vine. Every single one of us is searching for a source of Life. I’ll guarantee you that whatever it is you are personally struggling with – forgiving someone who wounded you, or getting past those wounds; achieving a lasting victory over your addictions; the fear, doubt, shame, unbelief, sorrow, rage and the carnival of things that keep you from living life whole and free – I’ll guarantee it would all change if you were filled with the Life of God, in unbroken union with Him, branch to Vine.”

This is what we’re after – that reconnection God.  A conversational intimacy with Him.  Walking and talking daily as branches drawing upon the Vine vs. being that man that wrests control from God and just does life day to day trying to figure it out and only turning back to God when we find ourselves in the ditch again.

With that as introduction, here is a quick summary of the first half of Wild at Heart …

What we’re after is freedom – setting men’s hearts free.  That’s why we do this.

Our issues are deep.  You have areas in need of deep healing, in need of counsel from older men, in need of restorative fathering from God.  Something in you has been lost, been stolen, been surrendered.  Something in you has been assaulted.

The spiritual life was never meant to be suburban and safe.  It has always been frontier.  We who live in it must accept, even rejoice, that it remains untamed.

What we want you to know is there is “more” – so much more.  More than the dull, boring, dutiful, checked-out, resigned life so many men are leading.  Boredom, by the way, is a very dangerous place for a man.  You’re a sitting duck waiting to be taken out.  It explains pornography, affairs, gambling, video games.  We’re bored.

Everything you want in this life, you’re going to have to fight for. 

Let me ask you – just in this past week, have you felt “opposed”?  Opposed in your work?  Opposed in your attempts to connect with your wife?  Opposed by this world and all its craziness?

There is a reason – everything you want in this life, you’re going to have to fight for.  And so we talk a lot about fighting and warrior.  It isn’t to glorify combat in the military sense rather it is the realization that our lives are opposed and there is an enemy and if do life ignoring that, you’re headed for a world of hurt.

The recovery of your warrior heart is so absolutely essential for your job, your friendships, this church and your calling and your marriage.  It’s so easy to say “screw it”.  You’ve got to fight for it.  There is an enemy who seeks to steal, kill and destroy.  Most men, most Christian men, most guys sitting in church, miss this.

There is an epic story underway and you have a vital role to play.  Most men miss this too.  They just do life.

Your life will be opposed.  Your enemy fears what you can become.  There is a Kingdom to come and the battles you fight here and face daily, they are shaping you for the coming Kingdom.  We are pushing new frontier here men.

We’re going to be leaning into the Kingdom and learning how His Kingdom works.  This fall we’re going to adapt and learn spiritual warfare.  And we’re going to adapt and learn how to fight for Eve’s heart.  We’re going to be spending most of this fall talking about two things – learning and equipping for spiritual warfare and Eve.

We’re going to push to deeply to understand our own hearts and the things that stir us and in so doing – learn of God’s heart and His passionate pursuit of us.  John Eldredge says – “It is this next frontier that most men never venture into”.   We are.

If you’re looking for a motto for LiveUP and manschool and everything we’re attempting to do, here’s a great summary…

Our hearts desire, our make-up and our thirst is to bring the Kingdom. To rescue people, to defeat evil, to restore men, to raise an army and to see freedom and lives restored. All of this is simply bringing the Kingdom. Isn’t there something in you that craves, needs, demands you to seek to stand for something more important than your own life? To stand for the Great Life in the hand of God?  

This is what LiveUP is all about.  It is calling men up and outward – Excurvatus Ex Se “a life lived outward”  So what will you do with this call? 

I will wrap up with this.     Listen to this from Erwin McManus …

God gives divine moments to those He can trust with them.  When was the last time God called you close?  The last time He asked you to take a huge, courageous step of faith?  And you said, “I’m just not ready for that yet. Maybe later.”  For a lot of people, they thought later as another day and it became a decade.  And they say, “I don’t know what happened to me…I was so close, I had so much faith…and then…”  History is full of people who said, “and then”

God calls us in. He calls us forward.  He calls those with a surrendered heart.  Eli told Samuel, “Go lie down and say ‘speak Lord, your servant is listening’”  We need to posture our heart towards God and say, “The answer is yes Lord, now what is the question.”    (think about that)

You know who God uses? He uses the person who doesn’t negotiate.  He calls those with a surrendered heart who say yes first.  When we resist the words of God, the call of God, we find ourselves in prisons of our own making.  When we trust God’s voice, He creates the path of freedom.  God moves when we move with God.  If you want to stay lukewarm, He’ll let you.  If you keep saying “no” or “maybe later”, He may quit asking.  Our future depends on the posture of our heart.

And that is the great final question for you this morning, “Are you going to remain lukewarm or are you willing to go in over your head for the ‘More’?”