We had a great turnout this morning as we kicked off Manschool. Richard Peters gave us a great call to action. He pointed out that his wife loves that he’s attending Manschool and while it is hard to get up and get here, he is blessed by being a part of this Tribe and so is his wife. He then shared from 2 Kings 4 about Elisha and the widow and the instructions to “go fill your jars with oil”. He said, “This story reminds me of how the world empties me but how Manschool, through the studying, worship and other men’s testimonies, refills his jars with oil that is the Holy Spirit and he can then take his “full tank” and go back out and minister to his world.” Beautiful.
Then we discussed this call of “What are you waiting for” …
I had my routine physical a month or so ago. By all accounts, everything is good with my health. I’ve been eating right and exercising regularly. After my physical, I went on the website to download and print my test results. I keep those because I like to be able to look back and see where my cholesterol, blood pressure, heart rate, etc. are vs. previous years. The data on the site was last year’s data and I called my doctor’s office to tell them that the data hadn’t been updated yet. The nurse pulled my file and said, “I’m going to get Dr. Harris to call you. He wants to talk to you about your test results.”
Wait, what did she just say? I’d never had “that call” before. That’s the punch in the mouth no one is ready for. There has been a flurry of severe illnesses, strange deaths, several cases on pancreatic cancer, etc. in Columbus of late and you just never know.
My mind raced. My priorities shifted. I started to run with worry for that call that I knew was coming in a few hours. What would he say? What would I do if he said, “there is something disturbing in your results and we need to run more tests”? I’m almost 52 years old. It is really hard to believe it is 2016. In just a few years, we’ll be in the 2020’s. Do you realize it’s been 15 years since 9/11? 15 years! I was 37 years old when that happened. My daughters were 8 and 5. Now I’m 52 and they are pushing 23 and 20.
Where had my life gone? Those years seem like a blur to me now. Did I daydream through all those years? Have I lived my life to the full and experienced an authentic walk with Jesus? Or had I settled for lukewarm and a nice, polite, safe faith? “Wait a minute God, please don’t pull this trigger. Give me another chance. I want my life back.” I felt like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life when the dream has gone bad and he’s at his wits end and he just wants to go back to that simple life he had.
Priorities change. You suddenly love your wife way more than you had been loving her. You think of all the things you did wrong and would do over. You think of the terrible and the “what if I only have six months to live” like the two men I knew that recently died just a couple of months after learning they had pancreatic cancer. “Boy I’m going to do some things differently if I get another chance.”
All of this swirls over you after one simple comment from a nurse. Amazing. My doctor called me a few hours later and I had braced myself. He said my results were great, improved over last year and he had no idea why the nurse asked him to call me about these results. He apologized for alarming me. But it gets me thinking that I want to open this season of Manschool with a very simple question for you … “What are you waiting for?” That phone call is coming for all of us. 52 becomes 62 in a flash. 72 comes evens faster. That day coming for all of us and as we age, it comes quicker and quicker.
Thankfully the day is also coming when we step into the Kingdom. The day is coming when there will be no more pain, no more worries, no fear, no insecurities, no assaults from the enemy. No condemnation. No sin. No temptation to sin. No distrust. No wounds. No shame.
Imagine what that day will be like! Imagine what it will be like to be fully and completely restored and transformed. Imagine what it will be like to be reunited with family and friends and to see and know them in their true self – where they don’t live under condemnation, judgment, shame, addictions, pain – but rather when you will know them in their abundant glory, unrestrained, free, passionate, painless, liberated selves? That glorious day is coming but until such time, I feel compelled to start us with this question … “What are you waiting for?”
Why? Because I think too many of us are daydreaming through life missing all the abundance that Jesus offers. I want Jesus as Lord of my life. Not a utility up on a shelf I can pull down and use when I need it. I want conversational intimacy with the Father. I want to know I am delighted in as a son of the Most High. I desperately want to believe that. I want to trust him. I want to converse with him daily – multiple times a day. I want a bold faith that might just move me across the world if so called. I don’t want to hold onto the things of this world which are temporary and instead to live and trust in the permanent.
I believe that the great tragedy of life is not the sins we commit but rather the life we fail to live. Erwin McManus said in his book Chasing Daylight, “We are not called to be survivors but rather conquerors – to move with passion into the storm. For a Christian, it means to live on the edge and stand at the epicenter of where the Kingdom of God confronts the Kingdom of darkness. God is looking for adventurers who will fight their way through to rescue those who are lost in darkness.”
Yet many of us choose to remain anonymous and uninvolved. We avoid potential dangers and hide in the backdrop of life. Invisible, mediocre, predictable and safe. Jesus said in John 10 that He came to give us life – an abundant life. Yet nothing about the abundant life Jesus promised is ever safe. The abundant life isn’t the prosperity gospel of money and riches. It’s the exact opposite. Everything about Jesus is risky. Where did we get the notion that following Jesus would be safe? Think of the disciples – “Lay down your nets and follow me” – in other words, “give up your career and your predictable and come and follow me into the unpredictable”.
McManus says, “Too many of us who declare Jesus as Lord have become domesticated or, if you will, civilized. We have lost the simplicity of our early faith. The abandon, the freshness, the power, the “I don’t care who knows”. Beyond that, we have lost the passion and the power of that raw, untamed faith.” He continues, “We created a religion using the name of Jesus Christ and convinced ourselves that God’s optimal desire for our lives was to insulate us in a spiritual bubble where we risk nothing, lose nothing, worry about nothing. Yet Jesus’ death wasn’t to free us from dying, but to free us from the fear of death. Jesus came to liberate us so that we could die upfront and then live.”
That is what we’re after here in Manschool – to create an environment of an authentic, transparent community – we call it Tribe – where we will push towards Jesus and see what living as sons of God can truly be like. We’ll dive into deep issues and where we will equip you with teaching and tools in order to draw you off the safety of the banks of river into the Class 5 rapids so you can fight for those entrusted to you. To leave that shore and go into the rapids is risky. Much of what we’ll ask you do as a man, a husband, a father, a son, a co-worker and a neighbor is risky. But we believe it will also lead to that abundant life Jesus talked about.
We’ve all got a choice to make. Am I going to keep settling? Or am I ready to take it up another notch? Am I willing to pick up my cross and die to myself so that others I care about can live free? What are you waiting for? (part 2 of this – the “go” part comes next)