Fathered by God (1)

Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.      Jeremiah 6:16

“The journey of masculine initiation…

We don’t know much about the stages of development in our instant culture.  We have someone else make our coffee for us.  We no longer have to wait to have our photos developed – not even for an hour – for now we have digital cameras in our phones that deliver back to us the image, instantly.  We don’t have to wait to get in touch with someone – we can email them, page them, call them on a cell phone, text them … this very moment.  We don’t need to wait for our leather jackets or our jeans or caps to get that rugged look – they come that way now, pre-faded, tattered.  Character can be bought and worn immediately.  (wow)

But God is a God of process.  If you want an oak tree, he has you start with an acorn.  If you want a Bible, well, he delivers that over the course of more than a thousand years.  If you want a man, you must begin with a boy.  God ordained the stages of masculine development.  They are woven into the fabric of our being, just as the laws of nature are woven into the fabric of the earth.  In fact, those who lived closer to the earth respected and embraced the stages for centuries upon centuries.  We might think of them as the ancient paths.  Only recently have we lost touch with them.  In exchange for triple venti nonfat sugar-free vanilla lattes.  The result of having abandoned masculine initiation is a world of unfinished, un-initiated men.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.  We needn’t wander in a fog.  We don’t have to live alone, striving, sulking, uncertain and angry.  We don’t have to figure life out for ourselves.  There is another way.  Wherever we are in the journey, our initiation can begin in earnest.  Far better for us – and for those who have to live with us, who look to us – to rediscover the stages and honor them, live within them, raise our sons through them.  Which brings us back to our predicament: who is going to do this for us?”

And so begins our study of “Fathered by God”.

Many of us feel unfinished as men because of the gaps that exist in our teaching – things we missed from our fathers.  We feel like, “I don’t know how to handle life”.

Step 1 is just to admit, “I am an unfinished man that needs fathering, that needs initiation”.  That’s dropping the poser.  Step 2 is having the humility to say, “I can’t do this myself.  I need someone to show me the way”.  There is incredible freedom that comes as you drop the pose and say “I need help”.  There is no shame in saying, “I’ve never used a chain-saw but I want to learn how, can you show me?”  To go from a man doing life all alone posing that he has it all figured out to the man that is authentic in is strengths, humble in his weaknesses and freely asks to be fathered is a beautiful thing.

That’s where we’re going this summer.  Come along for the ride…

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Humbled…

We live in the richest planet on earth.  As Americans we enjoy luxuries others couldn’t imagine.  Something as simple as a Chick-Fil-A is a luxury compared to a third-world country.  Americans worship at an alter of the “pain free life”.  Virtually everything we do is centered on being pain free.  Your iPhone is an extension of the pain free life.  So is your DVR recorder.  So is an app that lets you order your Starbucks so you don’t have to wait in line.

And the church has embraced this pain free “gospel”.  Where on earth did we get the notion that as believers, God would provide for us a pain free life?  Do you remember what your life was like before Jesus?  Was it easy to turn away from the sinful life and accept Jesus and then explain to your friends why you weren’t as much “fun” as you used to be?  Was it easy to break away from past patterns?  Sure you wanted to – you’d been saved and you loved Jesus … but … was it easy?  The point is that right out of the gate of this new found faith, it wasn’t easy.  Nothing about it is easy.  Pain free?  No way.  Perhaps the most iconic measure of the Christian faith itself is associated with deep pain.  The Cross.

We are not promised a pain-free life as believers.  God does not shield us from assault from the world.  Amen to that.  I know many believing families under near constant assault.  My own family is under such an assault right now.  Is it easy?  Is it pain free?  No.  It is an assault.  It is burdensome and frustrating.

But God is always up to something.  In the assault of this life that comes on you as a believer, God is shaping you.  In my case, it is all about humility.  I’m being humbled.  God has allowed these difficult things so as to overwhelm me with a sense of my inadequacy.  Yep.  Check.  Got that one.  I’m totally inadequate.  He does these things so as to drive us to cling to Him all the more closely.  Amen to that.

As American Christians living in what the rest of the world would call luxury, it is so very easy to drift away from Him.  So easy to disconnect from the Vine and just be my own little branch of my own, a “I’ve got this figured out” kind of man.  Then, BOOM, the hammer falls and you go to your knees and remember just how desperately you need Him.

Branch to vine men.  Branch to Vine.  Apart from the Vine, we’re just days away from drying out and falling apart.  God is moving and so is your enemy.  He seeks to steal, kill and destroy.  He prowls around.  That means he’s out and about just looking for an opportunity.  The next time you feel weak and you need just a little pick me up, stop.  Stop.  Don’t do it.  Don’t run to Starbucks and get a nice cup of coffee instead of the office coffee.  Don’t go on Amazon and buy something.  Don’t go to that porn site.  Don’t fixate on getting some loving from your wife.  Don’t buy something.  Don’t medicate it.  Stop.  Stop.  Those don’t fix it.  They medicate it and when the medicine wears off, you need more.

Turn to the Father.  Realize what is happening.  Realize that yet again instead of turning to Him, you were about to turn to one of your idols of instant gratification.  Realize you’re in pain for a reason.  Ask God into that pain.  Ask to be Fathered.  Graft your branch back into the Vine and let God love you.  Pick up the Word.  Read Galatians.  Read 1 John.  Read Ephesians.   Read James.  They are short books.  Work your way through them.  Underline the words that speak to you.  Write in the margins.  Journal what God is showing you.  Journal how you feel Him Fathering you.

You’re under assault.  You’re on fire.   Stop.  Drop.  (to your knees)  and Roll.  (back to Him).

a pain-free life? How dependent are you on God?

“As believers, we are not promised a pain-free life.  God does not shield us from assault by the world nor does He protect us from burdensome and frustrating events.  Rather, He exposes us to all these things so as to overwhelm us with a sense of our own inadequacy as to drive us to cling to Him all the more closely.”      

 J.I. Packer (paraphrased)

 

A short daily prayer…

Jesus

Jesus, I take refuge in you.  I take refuge in your love that nothing would be stolen but rather that you bring these things deeper into my heart.  Continue to deepen this in me.  I take refuge in you.  Jesus I give to you my spirit and my soul and my body.  I rest in you.  I give you my heart, my mind and my will.  I cover myself today in a fresh way with your blood – spirit, soul, body, heart, mind and will.

Jesus I pray you would open my hearing.  Cleanse my ears with your blood.  Cleanse my eyes so I might see.  Remove all scales.

I invite your Spirit and your life to fill me now.  Jesus restore my union with you.  Renew me in you.  Restore our oneness.  Jesus I give you my kingdom heart to be one with your kingdom heart.  Come and speak to me today.

I take my place in the Cross, in your resurrection and your ascension.  I give myself to you to live your life.  I put on your full armor today – every piece of it.  I bring the kingdom of Heaven and I bring the authority of Jesus over my life and my home.  I bring the full work of Jesus over this time and space and against every enemy, against every person who is sending sin to me, judgments, envy, Jesus against all foul spirits, against all crushing and hopelessness, against all overwhelmed, against all forms of resignation and defeat.  I cut those spirits off – every accusing spirit – by the triumph of Jesus Christ.  I bring the power of your Cross against every foul spirit set against me and I order them bound and banished Jesus to your judgment, in your authority and in your name.

I bring the life of Jesus against death.  I bring the empty tomb of Jesus Christ – the power of your resurrection against all death.  I command the kingdom of Heaven here.  I bring the full work of Christ between me and the things of this world.

I take refuge in you.

Jesus bring me what you have for me today.  I’m asking your angels to surround and shield me and to go before me.  I invite the presence of your kingdom in the name of our love and our life, the ruler of the universe, my Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen.