Fathered by God – let us be intentional

Tomorrow morning, we will wrap up our summer Manschool series on learning to be “Fathered by God”.  I hope it has been good for you.  Here are the notes…

John was shown how to fly fish by an older, experienced fisherman.  And it worked.  He caught fish.  On the way home, he knew God was fathering him that day.  God met him in his deep desire.

A fatherless man hurls himself at life trying to prove he has what it takes, striving, indulging.  30 years of “I am on my own to make life work”. It doesn’t work.

To journey to find God as Father – it can be awkward.  It is easy to transfer our feelings about our earthly fathers onto God.  As in – He’s not there much, he’s distant, he’s not going to talk to me and he surely isn’t going to come through for me.

We must ask God, “What is it that I believe about YOU as Father?”

Try to reorient how you look at life.  We are men in need of fathering and much in need of initiation and to believe that God is our father, coming for us to take us on this journey.   Sometimes it comes to us through another man – an uncle, a mentor, a sage, a fishing guide, a client, a neighbor – men who can speak into your life and teach you how things work.

Sometimes it comes directly especially as we start to take our questions to him like “Do you love me Father?”  “Do you even like me?”  “How am I doing as a man?”  “What do you think of me?”

One of the ways He honors us is that He’ll wait for us to engage in the process of being intentional towards Him.  Put yourself in situations where you know you’ll need Him to show up.  Ask for help with finances.  With help in your marriage.  Take on a sport outside your comfort zone.  Get into situations where you know you need initiation and where you will wait for God to show up.

John took up bow hunting for his healing and initiation.  Most of how he normally lived his life was that he was reckless and he charged into situations depending on his natural giftedness to get him through.  He flew by the seat of his pants.  It is a very boyish way to live life.

Bow hunting slows you down.  You have to be cautious.  Keenly alert of all your surroundings, all the time.  It changed the way he lived life. He brought the skills of hunting back into his daily life and gave up this boyish approach to be a more centered, patient man.

At any point in your life, something needs to be dismantled and something needs to be healed.  What needs to be dismantled is the fatherless way you live your life.  What needs to be healed is your genuine masculine strength.

Isaiah 61 says “He came to heal the brokenhearted and set the captives free – to free us of our bondage” and the fulfillment of this process is “They will become Oaks of Righteousness” – that is to say… settled, true, that which people can count on, which brings a sheltering strength that bears the glory of God.  THIS is the goal of being Fathered by God.

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Fathered by God – the Sage

The last stage of our life — it typically starts around 55 and continues through the rest of your life.  It is a time of wisdom and fathering of others.  The elder at the gate whose lifetime of wisdom is now a fountain of blessing for others.

It can be a tough time because he can feel like his position is shrinking as a king.  Maybe he steps down from his position and goes into retirement but it actually is his time of greatest influence where all his experiences flow over to shape and guide others.  It is a time of communion with God where your inner life is actually greater than your outer life.

The Sage invites you to come closer to God.  You don’t feel pressure but rather you feel the invitation of his life.

It can be wounded and undeveloped when he doesn’t learn his life’s lessons and pay attention to the journey.  He can have very little to offer if he hasn’t submitted to God in the process and paid attention to all God has tried to teach him.  He can be wounded when he is dismissed and no one wants to listen to him.  As in a church or a business when the young are arrogant and want to run the show and push the older to the side.

The call for all of us – no matter the stage you’re in right now – is to learn our lessons in life and pay attention.  It all builds for your future.

When you’re around a sage and you’re wanting to hear from him, hear what he has to say … have you noticed, he lights up.  As he starts talking, he looks like the years fall off of him.  He cranks up with passion, wisdom, counsel, stories, etc. gesturing wildly as he talks … he has an apprentice who wants to hear what he has to say.  That’s the power of this.  We all need a Gandalf.  And the Gandalfs need us!

There is an amazing process that takes place when an older man sees something in you.  When he sees it and has confidence in you and freely gives to you – imparting his experience to you … that is so powerful in a young man’s life.

“He who  keeps the company of the wise will become wise.”  It is available.  But you have to ask.

There is a world of younger men desperate for sages.  The power of the presence of a Godly, older man cannot be measured.  And for those men 55 and over … you have so much to offer.  There is an osmosis that comes off you onto these younger bucks and they need your wisdom.

Sex. The front line of the war for your soul…

Here we go, diving into the deep waters with an entry that might really irritate you but as “watchmen on the wall”, we need to go after this…

Right up front, all of us struggle with this.  Testosterone is a hugely powerful hormone.  The younger the man reading this, the more intense the battle.  Add to that a sex-drenched culture and the devastating effects of free pornography all over your smartphone, the TV and the internet and we just all need to admit, “this is a problem”.  It is everywhere.  To try to battle this with accountability or denial or by cutting off any possible temptation (no TV, no internet, not looking at any other woman as you go about your day) isn’t going to work.  You cannot “purify” your way past this.

There is something much deeper at work here.  To battle it, we have to dig deep into the soil and find the root.  What’s behind this?  Beneath it?  What is the “why?” behind all of it.

Let’s start with Proverbs 3: 5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight”.

The main aim of this verse is for us to walk in a straight path.  As we were saying in yesterday’s post, at this stage of life, the others around you – your wife, your children, your co-workers, your friends, your parents … all the people that are counting on youneed you to live your life well right now.  We need you to walk in a straight path.  The church is under assault in America.  Expect more of this.  Our church has been under some attack as well.

We have a country club/consumption culture in America fueled by iPhones, Amazon, Instagram, Facebook, etc. giving us easy access to anything we want to see or do.  Our culture is soft.  Our kids are the “me generation”.  They’ve embraced relativism.  Things that should shock them and scare them … don’t.  We have transgender bathrooms at Target now.  If we offend anyone, we are outcast.  Listen to me, ALL of this is symptomatic of the all-out assault Satan has unleashed on the world.  It is a “me, me, me” world and it has invaded the church.  Think about it, if you were Satan wouldn’t you want to fuel an attitude of “Me.  It’s all about me”?  Think about Lucifer.  Why did the revolt happen in Heaven?  He was in love with himself.  He wanted to make it all about him.  God kicked him from Heaven and sent him to the earth and that “me spirit” has been unleashed on earth in a devastating way recently by the enemy.

We have a church culture that is creeping into this country club like atmosphere of “the church is here to provide for me, entertain me, give to me” and as a result, we’re having a hard time finding people willing to step up and serve.  We don’t have time to serve.  We’re too busy.  We come into church desperately needing to be refilled.  But we have little to give.  If we all embrace this attitude and don’t wake up and realize that isn’t how the church is supposed to operate, eventually the church will collapse for lack of any workers to “toil in the fields”.  And don’t you see, that is precisely Satan’s intent – permeate the culture with a “me” attitude and then sit back and watch it collapse upon itself – the culture and the church.  And you’re asking right now, “what does this have to do with sex?”  Stay with me…

We need you to live your life well right now.  The church faces a great challenge and it needs all of us to be at our best.  There is an enormous battle underway against the church and our culture right now.  Just watch an hour of Fox News at night and it is jaw dropping the nonsense that happens daily in America.  As warriors with Christ, we all have a role to play.   The “church” cannot survive if we remain in a childish “me” place.  It is time for the men of the church (at large) to manUP and put away childish things.  There are FAR greater battles underway,  FAR more at stake than how much sex you are getting weekly from your wife.  Ok, here we go…

The “why?” of this question is way deeper than any accountability group holding you accountable of “did you look at pornography this week?”  That isn’t going to come close to dealing with the issue.  THE issue is idolatry.  We have idolized sex.  Sex is our god…

“If I get sex two times a week from my wife, then I’m good”.  

“My wife won’t have sex with me.  I need a wife that will regularly love me and send me out daily affirming me as a man.  Imagine what mountains I could conquer if my wife did all she was supposed to do to affirm me as a man.”

“My wife hasn’t had sex with me in three weeks, I have needs that have to be met”

Please hear me, I am NOT condemning you as you read this.  All of these…I’ve said to myself more times than I can possibly count.  THIS is what we are dealing with.  This is the magnitude of this issue.  Sex has become our god.  If we get it, we’re all good.  As we said a few weeks ago in this post — https://manliveup.wordpress.com/2016/07/27/fathered-by-god-the-lover/  — we have fallen into the trap of “take, take, take” – that Eve is there for us to take from rather than being given to us to provide for.  We have come to look at our wives for what we can get from them.  That we can get our validation from her.  That she can make us a man.

That’s a dead-end street and I’ll tell you why.  If a married, Christian man falls into this trap of the quotes above, he is a sitting duck for pornography.  That set up, those demands we place on our women, they cannot be met.  There is never “enough sex”.  It cannot be satiated.  The more you feed your desire for sex, the more insatiable the appetite.  The more you think about sex and obsess over it, the more your hunger for it will grow.  Remember one of our foundational truths – “What you feed grows, what you starve dies”.   The trap the enemy has set for us is to feed us these lies of what we “could be” if we were getting enough sex.  It’s no different than “what my life could be like if I had more money.”  There is never enough money.  It’s a lie.  It’s a trap.  And we’ve fallen into it.  So we drink from this and take it in and she cannot meet those demands and we’re all torqued up with no place to go, and so… we turn to porn.  Some turn to other women thinking the grass surely must be greener on the other side.  It isn’t.

The “why” of this is deep.  It is the alter we have built to sex.  It is the belief that sex can fulfill every deep longing I have and equip me for the life I need to lead.  If I go without it, I feel as though I have no oxygen and I quickly find myself wandering into all sorts of trouble.  We have embraced the “me culture” and made sex “all about me”.  That’s a very small life.  That’s no way to love a woman.  It objectifies her, cheapens her and tears the fabric of her heart.  The message we send to our wives either outwardly with our spoken words — or — even more painfully in a silent, non-spoken rebuke of her is devastating to her heart and she’ll shut down.

If we come to our wife with requests (demands?) for weekly sex or 2-3x a week sex or if we go silent and turn to porn and masturbation we are almost childlike in our begging for our needs to be met.  We don’t have mastery over our body.  We are bringing no strength to our wives.  Our flesh is in control and desire burns.  Unfortunately, our weakness here carries consequences for the one who most depends and needs us to come through … our wives.

Let me wrap it up and try to tie it all together and drive home the point – Proverbs is driving us to “walking in the straight path”.  I don’t want you to… Keith doesn’t want you to… your Mama doesn’t want you to… God doesn’t want you to … veer off the path into disobedience or into a wasted life or into anything that would dishonor Him.  And men, I’ve got to say it and I hate writing this but getting drunk on sex, cruising into porn, getting yourself all torqued up and then masturbating is wasting your life.  Literally you are wasting your seed of life washing it down the sink.  It is childish and needy.  All because we worship at the alter of “I’ve gotta have a lot of sex”.

We need you to live your best life.  I need to live my best life.  A worthy life.  A life that is an inspiration to others.  As the great and now late, Craig McConnell said, “Do you live free?  Are you the man that has a strength and an intentionality and a movement to his life, towards God, towards others?  A man who rescues others, who lives well and loves well?”  That’s the man we need you to be.

We do that by trusting God with all our heart.  No, a sexless marriage isn’t what God intended but I trust Him.  I value Him more than I do sex.  Sex goes away at some point anyway.  God never does.  We trust in Him.  We bank on the promises of God, step by step of each day.  We draw upon the vine.  We trust in a good, Holy, loving, all providing God.  We don’t rely on our own understanding i.e. we don’t take matters into our own hands (literally).  “God I can’t understand why I am single now … but I trust you.  I’m not going out to find sex as a way to fill the ache in my soul.  My soul aches for You.”  We do not rely upon self.  If we trust in our own understanding it means we are being self-reliant = it’s up to me to make it happen.  So if I’m not getting sex, I’ll manufacture it.  Lastly, Proverbs encourages us to in all ways acknowledge Him.  That is to know Him.  To connect the branch to the Vine.  To draw upon his Zoe daily https://manliveup.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/best-of-manschool-branch-to-vine-1/.  To draw Him into everything, “Lord the sex thing is killing me, I give it over to You.  I trust You.  I need You.  Sustain me”.  Draw Him in to every situation, all day, every day.

And men, we need you to live your best life now because the church is under assault and our culture is burning around us.  Marriages are breaking up, kids are turning to porn, drugs, homosexuality … anything to find happiness.  Racial tensions are exploding.  People are being gunned down on our streets.  We are in a world at war and the church needs warriors who’ve mastered self by giving over self to God.  We need men who are living well, living with integrity, living strong, fighting for their wives instead of constantly demanding from them.  We need men of integrity who say “Enough.  No more” and repent of the worship of sex and when blessed with a time of intimacy with their wives they will stop and consecrate the time in prayer giving the intimacy over to God as a worship offering.  God created sex as a glorious gift to the married couple and we’ve perverted it.  Now, we take it back.  As we enter into it, stop and consecrate the event, consecrate the time, give God the glory and in so doing you take it as a gift and will trust in God for the next time He grants the gift.  By consecrating the time, you are giving the power of sex over to God, “Lord, we give this to you.  Thank you for this wonderful gift.  Thank you for my beautiful wife.  Help me love her well every day.  We give this act to you and we will enjoy it and then release it.  “It” has no power over us.  We repent of our worship of it or for how we’ve rejected it or denied it.  Let us enjoy this and then get about the business of serving you together as a couple.  Thank you Lord Jesus for this precious gift that is my wife.”

The point of this post was to drive us to straight path, the life well-lived, LivingUP to all our God has created us to be.  Wake up. Don’t waste your life…

What did this stir in you?  Did it make you mad?  Why?  How much time daily do you give to the thought of sex?  How important is it to you?  Can you ever get enough of it?  And then … how do all those questions relate to your relationship with God?  How important is He?  Can you ever get enough of Him?

lots of food for deep, deep thought…

Fathered by God – The King

The truth is, all of us want to be king.  We all dream about money and success and power and prestige.  We all dream of getting to that place where we will be served.  But the truth is … a good king isn’t about being served.  He’s all about serving others…

The goal of this journey of manhood is when we come to this stage, the King.  It is a time of ruling and authority that starts in our 40’s and 50’s.  It is when God begins to entrust a man with a sense of influence and power.  It can come through wealth, a certain job, command of a unit, Senior Pastor — where we obtain a position of influence.  You’ve come the point where you have a place to rule where you can bless others.

You’re meant to rule – designed for that role in its proper time.  David knew God had made him King for the sake of his people.  It is a time of great testing i.e. “What is it like for those under his care?”

The danger arises when he gets some success and then makes it all about him.  We’ve all been under bad kings – men who made it all about them and it sucked the life out of the people reporting to him.

The question is when can you entrust a man with power and the answer is – only when he’s gone through his initiation.  Without a proper initiation and time in the saddle, a man isn’t prepared for the burden of leadership.  If he was never a cowboy then when he gets success and money, he’ll spend it on a never ending series of adventures or toys.  If he was never the warrior, as a king he’ll start fights that aren’t needed to prove himself or he will lead his people into passivity.  If he was never a lover, then when he reaches power, he’ll go and get the trophy wife.

A middle age crisis = a man who is supposed to be a king but is acting like a boy.

The heart of the king is undeveloped when as a boy, he is never entrusted with power.  His heart is wounded often by other kinds when he was a young man in need of a good king to shepherd him but he got a bad king and there was a wounding and a betrayal.  Out of that wounding, he is reluctant to ever lead.  It is also wounded when he is never called out and up to his potential by older men who say, “We see this leader in you and we want you to take this on.”

As a king, you need an unbroken dependence on God realizing there are unfathered places in you where you’re not as strong as you need to be.  Moses, David and Jesus all inquired of God before they moved.  There was a humility to be guided and shepherded and fathered by God in their role as leaders.

When you’re around a bad king, you see the selfishness and the falsehood and it makes you say, “I don’t want any of it”.

As a young man, God wants to build your character before you set off to build a kingdom.  If you take on too much, too young you will stumble and it can make you say, “I don’t have what it takes” and we want to avoid that.  The desire for wealth and significance and validation = a young king looking in wrong places.

The biggest battle we have as kings is integrity.  Our character will always be tested.  Those that are under you and around you are looking to you saying, “right here, in this moment, I need you to live well”.  They are saying (pleading), “Be a good king.  We need you”.  Others will depend on you.  Come through.  Live UP to all that you’ve come to be.  Humility and patience will be needed along with integrity and character.

As you go through all these stages and hit your 40’s and 50’s and you start to make a little money, the temptation is “Hey, it’s my time, I want to enjoy myself” and that will be right at the precise moment when so many other people will need you to come through for them.  At the time we’re wanting to make it about us, it’ll be all about others.  It is … excurvatus ex se.

The battle is selflessness and not making it about me but rather in serving others.

The truth is, all of us want to be king.  We all dream about money and success and power and prestige.  We all dream of getting to that place where we will be served.  But the truth is … a good king isn’t about being served.  He’s all about serving others.