Keep your eyes on glory – your pain is doing something

Over the past 4-5 weeks we’ve talked about your heart and how important it is.  We’ve talked about the habitat of the heart and how it has been taken away from us – the woods have continued to narrow in with civilization all around it and your heart has nowhere to run.  We’ve talked about your heart being the wellspring of life and about The Zoe – the drawing upon the Life of God and just how important it was for your soul and heart to daily draw upon the Life of God.

And then we tackled “who told you that you were naked?” – those voices that come against us telling us we’re “not enough” or “less than”.  And then we visited shame and the power of shame over our lives – that self-loathing and self-hatred are two of the most common reasons we reject God i.e. “I am so ashamed of my past sin, there is no way God wants any part of me”.  Mercifully, we were reminded of Psalm 103 “For as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”  They’re gone.  He’s forgiven them and yet we continue to carry the shame and the enemy uses it to whisper “you’re not worthy”.  And last week, as an act of defiance to shame, we had a ceremony where you could stand and let go of your shame and nearly every man in the room stood.  They gave it up, let it go and freedom was experienced.  Just standing up had the power to give men breakthrough and we’ve encouraged you to share these things with your small groups because when you speak this stuff out, when you testify, the power only accelerates to defeat it.  By speaking it out, you are pulling it out of the dark places of your soul and bringing it into the light.  Evil thrives in darkness.  Evil cannot withstand the light.

We’ve done all of this … in just 4-5 weeks.  Whew!  That’s a ton.  It’s weighty.  There is much to digest.  So this week, we paused.  I want to encourage you to keep pushing into this.  Freedom is there for you if you will push into it and bring it into the light.  I am hearing amazing stories already of men shedding thirty years of shame.  To God be the glory.

We showed this talk from John Piper on 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.  In reality it is 4:1-18 but the meat is 16-18.  Chapter 4 starts with the word “therefore” and therefore is the point of this scripture.  Therefore we do not give up; even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.  For our momentary, light affliction is preparing us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.  So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

The whole talk is powerful but if you fast forward to the 45 minute mark and watch it to the end, you’ll get the point … powerfully.  The reason we showed this talk TODAY is that on the heels of all that we’ve covered – the heart, naked, shame, etc. – is so you can hear his powerful call to keep your eyes on eternity.  Your pain is preparing you (producing in you) an eternal weight of glory.  God is shaping you for the Kingdom.  If you focus on the pain of this life and the horrors of the news, you will lose heart.  If you keep your eyes focused on eternity, you won’t.  Frankly, this is the only way to be a husband.  To put her needs ahead of mine.  Christ died for me, I will die for her.

Paul suffered constant persecution for 20-30-40 years.  Beaten.  Shipwrecked.  Persecuted.  Beheaded.  And he called all that “this light, momentary affliction”.  Because…he was drawing upon the Life of God daily and keeping his eyes focused on eternity.

Your pain is equipping you, preparing you.  You cannot see it in the moment.  None of us can.  But God is working.  We closed with a quick summary of Clemson football coach, Dabo Swinney.  As a kid, his parents fought all the time.  His Dad’s business failed and he became an abusive, alcoholic.  Fights, throwing things at each other, screaming, Police coming to the house … it was more than any 11-year old kid could handle.  He’d crawl out his bedroom window at night and sit on his roof to cry wishing all this would end.  But God was shaping young Dabo.  God had a far larger purpose for Dabo as an adult and into his role in the Kingdom.  Now he can look a young man in the eye who just wants to quit because his life has been so tough, so unfair and he can say, “oh no, don’t tell me about unfair.  I’ve lived that.  You can overcome.”  He is in an incredible position to touch so many young people and change the course of their life.  He couldn’t see “Why” the pain came his way back then, but he can see it now.

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As far as the east is from the west … Shame

Shame is one of the greatest obstacles we face in our quest to draw upon the Life of God and to enjoy authentic relationship with Christ.  We all carry shame and it is devastating because in carrying it, we are nurturing it.  We aren’t letting it go, aren’t giving it over to God and we are listening to voices that convince us we cannot be accepted by God because of this thing we have in our past that we carry around and maintain.  Remember the lyrics from that song, “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the ways He loves us…”

Many of us formed our view of God as small children.  Those that came to know God as adults have a radically different view of God.  Neuroscientists confirm that If we can just alter our view of God – even by as little as 10% – it can transform our life.

“God just wants to punish me. He keeps track of all my mistakes.  He is spiteful” – these are usually shaped by authority figures in our life – my Dad, Catholic school teachers, Baptist preachers, teaching of “I’m just a sinner saved by grace”.

The people who taught you “God is judgmental” were judgmental themselves.  We all judge.  God wasn’t keeping track of your mistakes, they were.  God wasn’t judging you for everything you did wrong, they were.  God wasn’t watching everything you did just looking for how you screwed up, they were.  They were communicating to you who God was and we need to change that.

Psalm 103:8-12 “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and full of faithful love.  He will not always accuse us or be angry forever.  He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve or repaid us according to our offenses.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His faithful love toward those who fear Him.  As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

It doesn’t matter how far you’ve drifted from God, He still considers you His baby.  You can’t run away from God’s love.

“God is disappointed in me” might have come from an authority figure – but – it might have come from you.  We carry shame.  We maintain and nurture it.  What you feed grows, what you starve dies.  If you keep resurfacing the shame in your life – in effect nurturing it – it will continue to grow.  I’m harder on myself than anyone else.  We beat ourselves up.  Self-loathing and self-hatred are one of the most common reasons people reject the grace of God.

I’ve done stupid things in my life, things I’d give anything to erase from my past but … I’ve never done anything that was as damaging to my soul as the shame I’ve carried for it.

I have this crazy voice in my life that just keeps fighting for attention and space saying, “You are not enough.  Not enough for them, not enough for her, your life is not enough.”  This is the voice of shame. “You’re not enough because of your mistakes, because of who you were, because of what you did and where you’ve gone, you’re not enough because of what you don’t have or because of what they do have.”

Shame is a heavy burden I project on God because I am disappointed in me and God must be too.  We all carry something we wish we could erase.  How could God want me if I have this thing in my life?  I wish I could go back and get a do-over.  “God just give me a chance to go back in time and do that thing over again so I can avoid that huge mistake.”

And God would say, What mistake?  What are you talking about?  I took those mistakes and cast them as far as the east is from the west remembering them no more.  You can go back in time if you want but they aren’t there.  They’re gone.  You are free.  These aren’t part of your past and they aren’t a part of your future.” 

Jesus must be so confused because I keep bringing up things He forgot.  “Why did I die on that cross if you were going to keep dragging it around with you?”

It is time to live in the grace of God and who He says you are and not in the disappointment of who you think you could have been or what you could have done.  Jim Finley – “Every time we stumble and fall and every time we rise again, God can barely stand the bliss of it.”   Because our mistakes are the material of God’s grace.  It’s His favorite thing to do.  It’s His favorite thing when I say, “God, I’ve really screwed up” and He says, “Give it to me, this is my favorite thing”.  My darkness is the material for His grace and light to shine through.  If you are carrying shame and are hard on yourself, you’re going to be hard on others.  Shame and judgment will carry over to others vs. embracing grace.

It’s a radical shift to extend grace to others and suspend judgment.  Question – “Do I breathe judgment or grace on those closest in my life?”  Try suspending judgment for just one week that those around me will not know disappointment, shame or judgment and instead, they will know I love them and look at them the way God does.  I don’t need to withhold my love and hope they change.  I don’t need to ransom my approval and hope they act differently.  All I need to do is breathe grace on them.

I’m done with shame.  Done with my mistakes and my past and I will not be defined by it.  I will allow God to do what God came to do when Jesus said, “Give me all of it”.

Grace was this dangerous thing Jesus introduced to the world.  He doesn’t want you perfect.  Perfect was left on the cross.  He just wants you close and is calling out, pleading … “Stop using your mess-ups and mistakes as an excuse to stay alone and far away from me.  I just want you close”

So this is it men, it is time.  It is time to let it go.  If you have confessed it, repented of it and would give anything to erase it from your past, then it is time.  It is gone.  It is as far away from you as the east is from the west and God has no record of it — so — why do you still carry it?  Freedom, sweet freedom is on the other side of letting it go.

Shannon Etheridge’s story – she’d lived with the shame of her past sexual promiscuity and was beaten down into believing God could do nothing with her.  She felt the nudging to tell her story but feared, “God what will they think of me?” and God told her, “It doesn’t matter.  The only thing that matters is what they think of Me.  How will they know what my long arm of mercy and love can do in a person’s life if you won’t tell them about the depth of the pit from which I rescued you?”  And so, she told her story.  Repeatedly.  And it spread all over the country and became a ministry to women dealing with the sexual junk in their past and the condemnation and shame they feel and as she says, He took my misery and made it a ministry.”  Amen to that.

The same is offered to you.  Bring it out of the darkness where it is eating you alive.  Expose it to the Light.  Share it with a brother in our tribe you can trust or your small group of men.  Get it out of the dark and start taking the steps to let it go so you can step into freedom where God takes a mess and makes it a miracle!

And to celebrate the freedom of this release, the freedom of feeling like we have to be perfect to earn God’s favor, we ended today with a rocking celebration of the Cross…

Manschool Wednesday – we are meeting

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we will continue along the theme of “who told you…?” and enter into a discussion about shame and redemption as far as the east is from the west – inviting God into our past mistakes and wounds.  As a part of this, we’re also going to celebrate the Cross … the complete “it is finished” work of Christ.

it’s going to be really good.  see you then.

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Erwin McManus – video of “who told you that you were naked?”

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/mosaic-video-podcast/id142417894

Some of you have asked if we can post the Erwin McManus “Who told you that you were naked…” video.  I haven’t been able to figure out how to do that as the only place I can find it is in iTunes.

I am attaching a link to the Mosaic Podcasts.  If you will install iTunes (if you don’t have it) and go to Mosaic’s podcasts, this talk is still on their list from March 9, 2014 Artisan Soul.

Voices – who are you listening to?

In a continuation of last week’s talk on “Who told you that you were naked?”, we pushed deeper into this territory.  This Spring, we have followed a progression …

  1. Sonship – that I am a full heir, that I am God’s son made in His image, divinely, uniquely created.
  2. Zoe – drawing upon the life of God – that we need to daily make it a priority to draw upon the life of God (the Zoe) like a branch needs the vine, like a tree needs the stream of living water, we too need to be fed by God…daily.
  3. Distractions – we talked about the things that distract us from the Life of God – busyness, technology, etc.
  4. Your Heart – we talked about the importance of your heart – that we need to guard our hearts as the wellspring of life.

Sonship…the Life of God…Your Heart – it is the path to life and it is opposed.

And last week, we introduced the opposition – Satan’s attempt to tear us down in whispering, “You are less.  You cannot.”  We talked about the power of these voices from our past and the agreements we’ve made with those.  Today, we pushed deeper into this.  The Ledger article about Ruby Thrush, the art teacher at Britt David.  She was shy, compliant child who was humiliated and shamed by a teacher for her inability to read in front of the class, “The only reason you are being passed on to the next grade is because no one wants to deal with you anymore”.  It took her out and she struggled to survive in its aftermath.  But she found her inner voice.  She got her legs back under her and now thrives as an art teacher inspiring her kids to dream big.  Her class motto is “If you make a mistake, make it great.”  From a shy, ridiculed little girl, she now teaches children to create a personal masterpiece that proclaims their importance, their identity and their talent – and she doesn’t care if they color outside the lines or “do it all wrong”.  There is no “all wrong” in her class – the kids are taught they are masterpieces themselves and she draws out of them their ability to create.  Beautiful.

Derrick shared a powerful testimony about the voices in his head that have tried to cast shame on him and Yancy shared his life and what God is showing him.  Neither of these men are “house-less” – no, indeed, both are quite at home right where they are.

Lastly, I shared a bit of podcast from Morgan Snyder at Ransomed Heart on finding out what God has to say about you.  Abraham, David and Joseph were all told by God what they would become.  They chose to believe.  That’s my question for you right now >> will you be one of those men who “choose to believe” what God says about you?  How do you do this?  Very few men go to God on a regular basis and say, “Jesus what do you think of me?”  Functionally, day to day, very few of us live like Jesus loves us.

Start doing this – go to God daily and ask, “God what do you think of me?  Jesus, show me how much you love me.”  Write down what you get.  It can come from a word, a new name, a picture, a sunset, a kind word from a friend, a worship song, Scripture you read … let God speak to you.  Whose voice are you listening too?  Let God speak.  Journal it.  Write it down.  Document it.  It will be powerful for you in the weeks to come.

If you’ve asked God who are you and if you believe it, there will come an immense freedom because you don’t have to impress people or be the center of attention.  You can simply be authentic and follow Jesus in whatever situation you are in.  Because you know.  You know who God says you are.  And when you know that, those other voices lose their significance over your life.  “The truth shall set you free”.   Here is a link to podcast.  It is 20 minutes long and I think it will help you a great deal tie all this together …

http://www.becomegoodsoil.com/017-dismantling-the-fig-leaf-part-two-of-two-podcast/

morning Lord…

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God showed up this morning at Panera Bread.  A few of us gathered to do life together and to push into each other’s lives and as we arrived, this greeted us.

These sunrises and sunsets speak to us.  They magnify the Creator.  They minimize the problems of our lives.  Life is short and in reality, the problems of this life are just specs compared to the VOICE of the Creator.

Whose voice are you listening to?  The voice of all these problems that hover over you that you struggle to manage and control … or … the VOICE of the ONE who created it all and is in total control?

Let God speak to you today and this weekend.  Find space to “be still and know I am God”.  Surrender those voices that you have allowed to take root in your soul.  Give that space back to God.  Listen to Him.

Listen.

Be still.

And know.

surrender

Whose voice are you listening to?  Who tells you that you are “less”?  That you are “worthless”?  That you’ll never amount to anything.  Will always be a failure.  Will never be loved or you don’t matter?

It is amazing how much credibility we place on the words of others.  Others who are failed, broken, shameful people in their own right.  We’ve let those voices define us.

It is time to take that territory back.  It is time to surrender those voices to the Lord and let Him speak over you what He thinks about His marvelous creation.  You are, indeed, fearfully and wonderfully made.  He delights in you.  He dreams great dreams for you.  He installed unique gifts and talents and creativity and passions in you.

It is time to believe the Great Artist and let Him heal your wounded and damaged heart as He drenches your soul, as mercy and grace unfold.  Come Holy Spirit.  Come.