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We will be talking about this at Manschool on Wednesday…

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What am I supposed to “do” ?

We had a full room this morning .  55 strong.  God showed up!  

Here are the slides from this morning —> manschool-wholeness-4

Read the following text from Romans 7 in The Message.  See if you can relate…

But I need something more!  For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help!  I realize that I don’t have what it takes.  I can will it, but I can’t do it.  I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.  My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable.  The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.  I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight.  Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps.  I’m at the end of my rope.  Is there no one who can do anything for me?  Isn’t that the real question?

I highlighted in bold a few of the key passages – “I can will it, but I can’t do it”.  I can’t do it.  As much as I want to stop the sin … I just can’t stop it.  My decision to “stop” just simply doesn’t result in action.  The cycle of repeating this habitual sin happens so regularly, it’s predictable.  Think > pornography.  lust.  overeating.  road rage.  a relentless focus on self.  isolating myself. overspending.  As hard as I try, I cannot stop the cycle …

cycle

We all struggle with habitual sins we cannot seem to stop.  And you know, as you go through this cycle, it really turns into a downward spiral.  The more I repeat the sin, the deeper into my guilt/shame I go.

“The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does”.  Romans 7:25 MSG.

Christ can “do” it.  You cannot.  I cannot.  In my power, I cannot overcome this habitual sin.  The cycle will defeat me as it always has (or else I wouldn’t now have this habitual problem!).  But… but … Christ can.  And He does that by shifting how you look at this.  Stop focusing on the “doing” and start focusing on what you want to “be”.  Focus on the “being”.

Galatians 5 > “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”.  Focus on one of these that you feel God is wanting to push into with you.  Instead of trying to “stop” sinning, instead focus on what you feel God wants you to “be”.  For instance, I want to be a man of self-control.  I don’t want to be that man that is driven by his impulses.  My desire is to learn to control my impulses and learn self-control.  For me, that starts with a very small thing, resisting the impulse to drink Coke Zero and instead drink water.  Maybe it’s also giving up cookies after dinner.  Maybe it is giving up the “relief” of a certain TV show I go to.  It starts with the little things.  Little steps of faith of a long-obedience in the same direction.  God’s trying to teach me a big thing like self-control.  He’s sanctifying me.  It’s a big picture, “Richard I want you to get this.  I will use it in you in a big way so I need you to learn self-control.  I’m building you, shaping you, preparing you.  You need this tool in your toolbox for life.”  It may begin with a very small act of obedience … water instead of Coke Zero.  It may be no more wine.  It may be deleting apps.  It may be starting a regular exercise program.  It may be…  

It’s a small step towards a big sanctification.  The cycle above is me-focused.  My ability or inability to stop, my failure, my shame, my repeating the same cycle over and over.  By instead turning inward from my ability to overcome this, it is turning outward to Father and letting Him show you what it is He wants to sanctify and teach you.

The answer isn’t what you need to stop doing.  It is, instead, a process of looking to what kind of man you want to be.

attached is a link to Nick Cash’s blog post that Derrick referred to this morning —> http://www.seedbed.com/mind-the-gap-between-being-and-doing/

Nick reminds us that our desire for being will determine our actions.  Do you see it?  The cycle above is all about our actions changing our being.  No.  Wrong.  That won’t do it.  Your actions are what got you in that cycle in the first place.  You cannot conquer habitual sin with “doing”.  No, instead it must come from what you want to be.  What kind of man do you want to be?  What kind of man does God want you to become?

“me” has to die (part 2)

The root of all sin is “me”.  It is self.  It is your flesh.  It is the “immediate”.  It explains why we have all this credit card debt.  “I want it, I get it, I figure out how to pay for it later”.  I justify.  I rationalize.  “I need this”.  “I deserve this”.  “Why can he have a 70 inch HDTV but I can’t?”  “Everyone else does this, why can’t I?”

Go back and re-read that first paragraph and look at all the I’s.   Me, me, me, it’s all about me.  That’s a pathway to death.  Living for “me” is sin and it’ll take you places you never wanted to go and extract a cost from you that you never wanted to pay.

Me-first explains why we don’t tithe.  Tithing is a radical statement of faith that my money will not own me.  By giving it away (giving first), I am standing in defiance of “me first” and my flesh.  I’m radically surrendering Lordship of my money over to God.  It is surrender.

Surrender is the very opposite of sin/me/flesh.  Surrender is Lordship.  It is acknowledging I am not master of my life and in fact, if left unchecked, my flesh will consume my life and all those around me that I love.  Surrender is acknowledging that if left to my own devices, I’d consume like locusts.  Surrender is admitting you’re weak.  It’s a beautiful thing.   In my weakness, God is strong.  

Some guys can drink and escape the risks.  Others of us have no business drinking.  It’s too wide an open door.  There is too much risk.  Maybe alcoholism runs in your family and you’ve bought the lie that you’re immune to the risks.  No one is immune to risk.  We have an enemy who does not fight fair and is the master of all lies and if you don’t think you’ll ever get hooked, you’re buying a lie. Some guys don’t really struggle with pornography.  But others of us know it is a vast weak spot and if tempted, we will take the bait.  In truth, no man is immune to it.  If you’ve ever looked at it, you struggle with it.  If you’ve ever looked at it, there is a temptation to go back.  That’s what Satan does.  His hooks cut deep and have big barbs on them.  Getting them out of your flesh is hard.

Sexual temptation, pornography, sending Facebook friend requests to pretty neighbors, flirting, wondering/wandering is “me”.  Taking a few drinks every night to numb the pain and escape.  Toys. Overspending.  Overeating.  Carrying around rage, envy, hatred, comparison, jealousy.  These are all about me and my needs and finding stimulation elsewhere from God.

Satan will use any and all to take you down.  “Be on alert, your enemy, the Devil, prowls around like a hungry lion looking for someone to devour.”  Flirt with that pretty sales rep who calls on you and think you’ve above it?  Don’t kid yourself.  He knows your weaknesses and he’s just looking for an open door.  “Please Bubba, please give me an open door, just take a second look, send her a text, send her a friend request, agree to go to lunch with her.  It won’t hurt anyone.”  He’s prowling around and you may be his lunch.

Go back and look at the post from October 5, 2016.  Watch the Louie Giglio talk again.  Remember that talk.  Don’t forget it.  God prepares a table for you in the midst of your enemies.  (don’t kid yourself, God himself is telling you that your enemies surround you)  The table is there.  There is all this chaos swirling around — it’s just you and God.  He wants you focused on Him.  His provision is there.  Just keep your eyes on Him.  Those temptations will come and it is when you turn in your chair from facing God and start engaging in those conversations in the chaos is when you get in trouble.  “Self” is going to want to turn to those temptations.  “Me” is going to get bored with God and turn to the shiny lures.

“Me” … has to die.  Battling sin is first acknowledging it and second, repenting it.  I must first own it without any rationalizing or justifying.  There is no justifying sin.  Then, I must turn from it.  Repent = turn from.  180 degree U-turn.  Flee from it.  Run.  Quit drinking.  Be willing to go get help if you need it.  Own it.  Close your Facebook account.  Put the filters on your laptop and give your wife full access to it and your phone.  Never, ever go to lunch or dinner with another woman.  Purge any and all avenues that are potentially open doors.

Will it be fun?  No.  Is it needed?  Absolutely.  If you want God to restore, you’re going to have to take some bold steps.  He will meet you there.  All this mess in your life?  God can turn a mess into a miracle.  You just have to be willing to kill “me”.  Listen to this song and especially John Piper’s words in the middle of it.  God’s slaying of “me” is serving a purpose.  He’s not asking anything of you that His Son hasn’t overcome.  God is calling us to slay self so He can work His Divine purpose in and through our lives.  Remember in your weakness, He is strong…

“me” has to die (part 1)

here are the slides from today … manschool-wholeness-3-dealing-with-my-own-sin

The most fundamental problem in brokenness is our own sinful choices.  We can’t control what others might do in our lives but we’re absolutely responsible for our own choices.

What is sin?

  • 10 Commandments
  • Galatians 5:19-21 – acts of the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, idolatry, hatred, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, envy, drunkenness, etc.
  • Jesus’ answer to the greatest commandment (Matt 22:34-40) = Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and the second is, love your neighbor as yourself.  In other words, sin is not loving.
  • Genesis 3 – reminds us of the basic truths of the nature of sin.  God gives them the entire garden except one tree and it is there that Satan launched his attack.   Satan’s strategy is to…
  • A) distort the truth and create confusion saying things that sound like truth but aren’t exactly truth.  He tries to cast doubt on the goodness of God, “Why would God not give you everything?  See, He is holding out on you.”
  • B) He draws upon our desire for independence and lead us to reject God’s authority and claim that authority as ours.

Why that one tree?  The knowledge of good and evil.  God wanted us to always depend on Him to show us what is good and what is not.  To depend on Him to lead us to that which will bring us life and keep us away from that which will bring death.  Satan comes along and says, “Why do you want to stay in a place where you have to depend on God?  You can become your own god.”

And therein lies the root of all sin – “you can become your own god”. 

Truth is under attack today.  He’s taking it a step further.  He’s not just twisting truth but leading us to a place of rejecting truth altogether in favor of relativism.  “There is no objective truth”.  Satan hates authority altogether but the truth is, we were made to live under authority.

Whether it is the 10 commandments, Jesus’ commandment to love God with all your soul, the Galatians 5 – lust, idolatry, greed, jealousy or the battle in the Garden of Eden … the essence of all sin is this ===> I want to live under my authority, not God’s.”

Scripture teaches us that when we begin to walk down that path of deception and rejection of God’s authority, the result ultimately will be consequences of destruction…

“Don’t be deceived: God will not be mocked.  For whatever a man sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.”  Galatians 6:7-8

You know this instinctively.  You try to teach this to your kids.  You know, as the Proverbs teach, that if you walk with the wise, you’ll become wise.  If you walk with fools, you’ll suffer much harm.   Hang out with turds, you’re going to turdville.  You pound that into your kid’s minds and beg them to listen.  But what about you and your choices?

The consequences of sin?

  1. It is immediate.  Guilt, shame, physical, social, legal issues, financial consequences, relational pain.  You can’t take it back or undo it.  A hidden affair.  A hidden pornography addiction.  Once the sin is exposed, the consequences are immediate.
  2. Long-term. Romans 6-8.  Sin is not so much a single act but rather the power of the trap of it … that we can become a slave to it (think of pornography).   Romans 6:15-16 in the Message “You know that there are some acts of freedom that destroy freedom.  Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act.”

One of the things that gives Satan a right to wreak havoc in our lives is when we sin.  Sin is not just committing an act, it is opening a door.  This is an enemy that will come in through an open door.  His aim is to gain a stronghold to keep you under the power of sin.  But remember, if you don’t open it, he can’t come in.  If you do open it …

Sin will always take you further than ever meant to go.

Sin will keep you longer than you ever meant to stay.

Sin will cost you more than you ever meant to pay.

God’s Provisions for dealing with sin.  This is the path to winning this war …

  1. Confession. Agree with God that a particular thing is sin.  Stop rationalizing or justifying.  I’m agreeing with God that this is wrong.    Accept the truth of God’s word.  Psalm 32:1-5.  James 5:13-16 “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.”
  2. Repent.  To confess is to merely agree with.  To repent is to turn 180 degrees and go the other way.  Confession without action is just words.  Repentance is turning away from sin and turning towards God.
  3. Power.  Power of the Holy Spirit to break the stronghold of sin.  Romans 8:1-2 “The power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”

God does not want you to stay in brokenness.  He wants you to embrace His Truth, reject the rationalizations/justifications and chose to live under the authority of Jesus Christ.  1 Cor 6:18-20 – “You are not your own, you were bought at a price.”   Satan is desperate to keep you from the truth that God is utterly good.  He loves to give.  His anger comes from his passionate love.  If He didn’t care, He wouldn’t be angry.  What God prohibits, it is because He wants to protect you.  He knows what He commands will bring you life.  Wholeness starts with turning to Father.

Please see the next post for the impact point…

You’re saved. Why don’t you believe it?

Actions speak louder than words.  Many of us say we are saved (and we are) but we live like we’re not.  We live under a blanket of condemnation and shame.  It comes from the enemy, the words and opinions of others and it comes from our own mistakes.  Watch the testimony from Big Daddy Weave about how he was living out his faith …

His entire life, he’d stamped the word “failure” over himself.  He opened a door to the enemy to come in and hold that over him.  Mike made an “agreement” that we talk so much about in Manschool.  He listened to the wrong voice.  He lost 84 pounds in a year but didn’t hit his goal of 90 pounds and so, immediately, shame and “failure” set in upon him.  The weight piled back on.

And then, one day at his lowest point, he asked God, “Why can’t I love myself?”  The Holy Spirit came upon his heart and said, “Mike, you need to let me tell you what I think about you for once.”  And God loved him there in that moment.  That encounter was the inspiration for the song “Redeemed”.

Derrick reminded us this morning that our brokenness is not the end of our story.  God desires to heal us and make us whole.  It is a process of sanctification.  The offer of restoration is freely given to all who believe and profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  Psalm 32 (see the earlier post) reminds us that He “took away the guilt/shame of our sin”.

Salvation is the path to wholeness.  You ARE saved.  Live like it!  Humble yourself to the magnitude of the GRACE extended to you upon the Cross!  Because He so loved you … He gave it all.

Wholeness comes.  Rejoice!  It starts with the immediate.  The moment you surrendered and invited Jesus into your heart, the process of wholeness started in your life.  But, you were not whole in that moment.  Keith reminded us that the minute you say “I do”, you are a husband.  But… you have no clue what truly being a husband is all about.  That comes over your lifetime. The same is true with wholeness.  It starts with salvation.  In that moment, God sees us as whole through Jesus but He also starts the process of making us whole.  So, it is immediate and then it comes over time.  We don’t get fully there in this life.  In eternity, the construction will be complete and we’ll be fully restored, fully whole.

Ask Him.  Ask Father what He thinks about you.  Take the question of who you are to the ONE who created you.  He thinks you’re amazing.  It’s time to start believing Him.

How much time do you have for the Father? (great song included)

As we discussed this week, there are all kinds of reasons to keep the Father at arms length in our attempt to “do life” all by ourselves.  One of the core tenants of LiveUP is that if a man attempts to do this life alone, he is going to be taken out.  Don’t even think about going it alone.  You NEED tribe.  You NEED community.  You NEED a handful of men around you to fight for you.

And, most importantly, you NEED the Father.  He waits.  He just wants you to pull up chair on the porch and start a conversation with Him.

I am reminded of the great John Piper quote that I’ll leave with you as food for thought…

“Facebook and Twitter (and I’ll add the ESPN app) exist if only to prove that prayerlessness was not due to a lack of time.”

Ouch.  Where are you spending your time?

You’ve got the time.  He’s got the ears.  Take it to Him.

Lastly, check out this song.  If you’re truthful and you open your heart and drop your defenses, it’ll be hard to hear these words and not have the tears flow.  It fits perfectly with what we discussed this week at Manschool…

I am broken – wholeness (1)

Many of us have been sleepwalking through life due to the nature of this fallen world, the mistakes of our past and an enemy who keeps throwing this junk at us.  The enemy wants you asleep at the switch.  He wants you in denial.  He wants you turning to medication.

God wants more. Just imagine what it would look like for God to break through in your life and your family.  Ask him to do “immeasurably more” (Eph 3:20)

If we will allow Him, God will show us the compromises we’ve made in our lives, the idols we turn to and the past hurts which have shaped us.  You’re either growing in wholeness or moving in brokenness.  Growing in wholeness is not a destination.  It’s a journey.  It’s a process.  We will not get “there” in this life.  This is a call to wholeness, not perfection.  It is being restored and put back together.  It starts with owning the specific brokenness in my life.  Judging others, constantly measuring myself vs. others and putting myself above others, etc.

You’ve heard of the clinical term of dissociation.  It’s a survival mechanism.  It’s a gift in our design from God to provide a path of survival for us in a trauma until we can come of age and get the resources we need to be able to go back and deal with it.  It is why we may block things out of our memory until such a time that a safe place has been provided to bring it out.  One of the ways God gives us to heal is our ability to name our story truthfully.  Not diminish it but to name it to one or a few safe people.  The more you’re able to tell your story truthfully will be the extent to which you’ll be able to heal.

The Holy Spirit tells us He desires truth in our innermost being (Psalm 51:6) “You desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there.”  Denying reality is a gift – for a time – for your protection.  But there comes a time where we need to grow up and with Jesus step into more and more healing.  There comes a time to come clean and own it.

Almost everyone has had some impactive trauma in their life (and thus, going on in their body). How it manifests is going to be very, very different.  Like a young boy whose father left the family and there was nothing the boy could do to stop it.  He had sensations in his body he had to deal with – and – likely, he had to shut down and dissociate because of deep anxiety or feeling sick to his stomach or rage that was overwhelming.  So, he shut down and now it contributes in his adult life.  He may not possess the range of emotions in him that God intended for him to have and it might be causing all sorts of issues i.e. his wife saying “Why are you so unavailable to me emotionally?”

It’s a lot to unpack with the Father but know this – Jesus wants healing for your heart.  Jesus is all about restoration and nothing is beyond His reach.  Nothing is too difficult, nothing is too old for Him, nothing is ever too broken or out of His reach.

In the beginning, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed.  Transparent and vulnerable.  Nothing to fear, nothing to hide.  Free will gave us the chance to choose God or choose self.  Sin came.  They went to hiding, fear and danger.  Jesus came to restore us.  Isaiah 61:1 “The Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and freedom to the prisoners.”  Jesus claimed this verse for his ministry.

Are you poor?  Are you brokenhearted?  Are you captive to darkness?  Mourning?  World seems to be ashes?  Are you in despair?  Jesus says He came to give you life and give it to abundantly.

I am broken.  Own it.  What are the signs?

            Stressed out trying to be everything others expect me to be?

            Do you battle fear and anxiety on a regular basis?

            Feel numb to life more often than you’d like to admit?

            Do you go long stretches where there is little or no joy in your heart?

            Accused of being driven and you don’t even know why you’re so driven?

            Or do you hold back and never take risks

            Are you thin skinned and easily offended?

            Afraid of relationships and intimacy?  Of being transparent and being known?

            Do you turn to relief instead of restoration?

            Plagued by bitterness, resentment, guilt or regret?  Cynical about life?

            Are there things you can’t stop doing but no matter how hard you try?

These are symptoms – they point to the disease.  What are some of the sources?

  1. My own sinful choices.  Decisions I’ve made that have brought great pain into my life.  I can’t shift the blame to anyone else.  Sin destroys and fractures our souls.
  2. Other’s sins.  Sin impacts a lot of others around us.  Some of us have deep hurts and wounds because of the sinful choices of others.
  3. Living in a fallen world.  Death, illness, crime, the economy.  They collect in our soul.
  4. The Enemy.  He deceives us.  Lies to your face.  He will do whatever it takes to keep us in our brokenness.

What do we tend to do with our brokenness?

  1. Deny.  We rationalize or shift the blame.  Or we stuff it in denials.
  2. Hide. “Everybody is desperately insecure.  Deep down, we are all convinced that if people knew who we really are, they would reject us.  So, we find ways to hide or cover our perceived weaknesses.”  (Paul Tournier)  We hide in all kinds of ways.  We isolate. We pose – living an act, putting on a mask hoping we can fool everyone.
  3. Perform.  Perform to overcome our brokenness.  We become perfectionists.  Our identity becomes the things we do, how we perform.  Just another way of hiding.

None of these will heal our brokenness.  The only way to do that is to take it to God.

  1. We must first own it.  Psalm 32:5 “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity … and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
  2. Embrace it.  Embrace the reality that I am broken and need God’s healing.  Enemy lies to us about the very fact that we are broken.  Paul says, “When I am weak, then I am strong.”  God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.  As long as we fight weakness and do everything we can to show that I am not, we will continue down the road to brokenness.
  3. Submit it.  We cannot move to wholeness without going through total surrender to God.  Wholeness begins in surrendering it to God.
  4. Receive God’s provision.  His promise is to make me whole.  He will keep His promise. It may be immediately, it may be over time but He will not leave us alone.  He will restore!

The Gospel brings beauty out of brokenness.  God is working everything for our good.  The painful times sharpen us and draw us into deeper relationship with Him.  God’s plans are good.  But we must trust His timing, not ours.