He prepares a table before me…

Here is the Louie Giglio talk we watched (again!) this morning.  I started the tape at about 17 minutes.  I encourage you to watch this again.  I strongly encourage you to watch this with you wife.  Put the kids to bed, turn off the TV and invest in the spirituality of your marriage and in so doing, build a deeper level of intimacy with her.

The talk is so good, I can hardly put words to it.

In the context of his talk, I encourage you to go and read this blog post…

A Letter To Satan Concerning My Daughter’s Seizures.

Morgan Cheek writes powerfully on this blog of the journey God has taken her and her husband on as they raise twin girls with severe genetic issues.  (Her husband Hugh is from Columbus).  This is a journey they cannot escape.  There is no “prosperity Gospel” to deliver them from this.  Great pain accompanies their journey.  But God.  But God is present with them.  He walks with them and prepares a table before them in the presence of their enemies.  The situation may never turn around.  God never promises us a pain free life in this fallen world.  It does not make our God … not good.  He is good.  He is present.  They are surrounded by all sorts of enemies but God is present and He has prepared a table for them and He is enough.  He is all and He is enough.  Read the blog post and see how Morgan battles the enemy by calling out his lies and reading back to him scripture and Truth he cannot deny and will flee from.  In so doing all this, Morgan is not giving the enemy a seat at her table.  She’s locked tight her eyes on the Creator of these precious girls and the comfort and provision of God is all she needs.

Lastly, tying in with all of this … what is it that God wants from you?  What does he want?  I’ve talked to you about my “high horse”.   Here’s our buddy Vlad on his “high horse” but you know what, it’s us.  We’ve got life figured out.  We’re in control.  We always have the answers or we pose acting as if we do.

And if you’re ever so lucky, God will come along occasionally and knock you off that horse.  Here is how it starts …

and how it ends …

and Praise God!  Now you’re humbled and you are in a place where you can look at your life in a fresh way and now you’re able to listen.  So here is how life looks …

These nice little boxes tucked up on the shelves.  Each of those boxes are the things we “control” – career, 401(k), home, wife, kids, sex life, our time, our money, our stuff.  As life goes along, we manage these things, take control of them, pretty them up, make them appear as if all is perfectly in order.  Perhaps family is the best of these – pretty wife, two perfect kids, right schools, right attitudes, “everything just seems to work out for them”.  Life’s good.  “I’ve got this under control and life figured out”.

BOOM.  High horse time.

My daughter turns up pregnant.  God prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies and if I will just sit at the table with Him and lock tight on Him, He has me.  But no, I turn away.  I turn to my shelves.  I take these things and take control of them and get busy getting the shelves of my life in perfect order so all the world will look and see “wow, he has it figured out”.  The enemy will strike here.  He won’t play fair.  He’ll even use scripture to trick us.  “You’re just being a good steward of the talents God’s giving you.”  You see, even in that, he’s tricking us to turn from God and think “I can do this on my own”.  The liar tells you that “you don’t need God,  you’ve got this”.  

So, enough time goes by and I’m lulled to sleep and my pretty little life, all tucked nice and neatly up on those shelves gets blown up when my daughter turned up pregnant.  Not only was she pregnant, she moved in with the boy and a way of life far removed from the home she grew up in. What then?  What of the pretty little family all nice and neat?  Five weeks later, her older sister told us she was pregnant too.  Double Boom.  Face plant off the high horse into the mud.  The perfect little family was now being rocked.  The facade was broken.

I will say that through all of this, we’ve been humbled.  On December 1, we thought “there is no way we’re ever going to make it through this.”  45 days later with both of them pregnant, now we really knew, “there is no way we can do this”.  But God.  God has turned this mess into a miracle.  What seemed insurmountable four months ago has passed.  God got us through it.  We walked those days in a way we’d never walked before with God.  Will our “perfect” little life ever be “perfect” again?  No.  But you know what, now that I look back, I don’t want that kind of perfect.  I want the God perfect.  I want to give it ALL to Him – “Lord do with all this whatever You will”.  I never again want to walk another day up on a high horse thinking I’ve got it all figured out.  I want to walk my days the way we did in the worst of that storm when each day was radically dependent on God showing up.

So my question to you is simple – What does God want from you? 

God wants it all – your time, your money, your sex life, your kids, wife, job, retirement “plan” – the whole thing.  We want to keep control of most of this up on our shelves – we turn our back on God and his table and turn to our shelves saying “No God, I’ve got these things under control, I just need you over here in this other area”.  Nope.  Oh no.  God wants it all.  The more stuff you keep away from God up on your shelves as you fine tune, shine, polish and present as perfect … the more idols you’re worshiping and the less you’re locked tight on Him.

Morgan Cheek has no choice.  She cannot “do” being a Mama to those two little girls alone.  She’s desperate for a Savior and she’s seated at the table He has prepared for her and those girls in the midst of her enemies.  The road ahead looks daunting and it is but in the swirling vortex of the enemies that surround her, there is a table and The Good King prepared it and sits there with her.

Push into this.  What does this say to you?  Where are you in this.  

Let me hear from you.

 

 

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Walking in Wholeness – conclusion

Derrick gave us a great recap of the Wholeness series this morning.  The slides are here Manschool – Wholeness – summary

The question for you as we’ve processed through this journey is “Have you received significant insight or experienced a measure of breakthrough?”  And if so … “Have you taken action as a result?”  We want you processing these questions.  Ask Father.  Carry on a conversation and say, “Show me Lord what it is you wanted me to see here”.  Ask your fellow brothers – those Tribe men you’re close with – because the thing about Community (or Tribe as we like to say) is that only community can truly see your blind spots.  Close community has a way of seeing things you just can’t see because you’re standing too close to the situation.  This quote sums it up so well …

Be kind, for everyone you know is facing a great battle.

A true community is something you will have to fight for.  You’ll have to fight to get one, and you’ll have to fight to keep it afloat.  But you fight for it like you bail out a life raft during a storm at sea. You want this thing to work.  You need this thing to work.  You can’t ditch it and jump back on the cruise ship.

This is the church; this is all you have.  Without it, you’ll go down… Suddenly all those “one another’s” in Scripture make sense.  Love one another.  Bear one another’s burdens.  Forgive one another.  Acts of kindness become deeply meaningful because we know we are at war.  Knowing full well that we are all facing battles of our own, we give one another the benefit of the doubt.

Leigh isn’t intentionally being distant from me – she’s probably under an assault.  That’s why you must know each other’s stories, know how to “read” one another.  A word of encouragement can heal a wound; a choice to forgive can destroy a stronghold.  You never knew your simple acts were so weighty.  It’s what we’ve come to call “lifestyle warfare.”

We check in regularly with one another, not out of paranoia (“Do you still like me?”), but in order to watch over each other’s hearts.  “How are you doing?”  But be careful about what you are looking for from community.  For if you bring your every need to it, it will collapse.  Community is no substitute for God.

John Eldredge, Waking the Dead

None of what we’re doing in Manschool is meant to convey to you an easy formula to life.  There is no guarantee in this life of anything.  Look at the life of Job.  We don’t push a “prosperity Gospel” on you – a series of formulas or practices that if dutifully followed, “abundant life” is promised.  This is a broken world with broken people.  This movement towards Wholeness is a process of sanctification – steps along the path of life leading towards eternity.  A spiritual, emotional “high” is great but it doesn’t get you “there”.  Neither does 60 minutes of quiet time a day, scripture memorization or a “purification” of your life purging out any/all possible temptations.  None of that guarantees you anything.  But God…

But God.  God promises you Him.  He is enough.  A million dollars isn’t.  The perfect house isn’t. Perfect children aren’t.  God is.

That said, it is a process of sanctification and yes, very much indeed, being in the Word, spending time quietly seeking the Father, giving, serving, living outwardly … yes, yes, yes … do those things. Do more of them.  As you should exercise your body, exercise your faith.  Turn these things into the stuff of life…

There is nothing more dangerous than a repeated experiencing of a fine emotion with no attempt to put it into action.  It is a fact that every time a man feels a noble impulse without taking action, he becomes less likely ever to take action.  An emotion is not something in which to [savor or delight in]; it is something which at the cost of…discipline and of sacrifice, must be turned into the stuff of life.

William Barclay

FINAL QUESTION – What are you going to let define you and your life?  Your past mistakes? Failures? Wounds or words spoken over you by broken people?  Lies of the enemy?  Or … what the Father says about you, believes about you, desires for you?  We all have that choice. Too many of us have lived 30, 40, 50 years listening to the wrong voice and it has defined our life. Today, right now, that can change.  Today, you can let go of the lies of the past – yes, it may have happened and yes, you may have done it and yes, there are consequences of our actions – butit does not have to define you.  Christ took all that for you on the Cross.  If you will trust Him, it is gone.  Finished.  It is “as far away from you as the East is from the West”.

Are you ready for more?  Are you ready to release this and get on with the life your Father has for you?

Spiritual Warfare in the path towards Wholeness

The enemy is looking to capitalize on sin and establish strongholds.  All he needs is an opening he can exploit.  He’ll also come when things are going well – even when you’re on a spiritual high.  Go off to Wild at Heart for a 4-day retreat and the enemy will counter-attack.  Here is a picture of warfare from the movie The Natural…

Roy Hobbs was going to be the greatest player to ever play baseball.  A dark woman entered his life and tried to kill him and then jumped to her death.  16 years later, Hobbs attempts a come back. The NY Knights draft him.  The owner is trying to wreck their season so he can buy out the team’s manager.  He’s loaded the team with reject players including Hobbs and he’s buying off players with cash and women.  Hobbs joins the team and starts hitting home runs and the Knights start winning. They try to buy Hobbs off with cash and the owner’s niece.  It almost works.  Hobbs takes a stand and this scene is him combating evil.  Notice the comments “I think you’re a loser” or “What about your past?”  This is how evil works.  It’s looking for a sin in your life it can exploit and hold against you but a man who knows who he is and more importantly, whose he is can stand up to evil as Roy did in this movie.

How we are to engage the enemy

  1. Be saved  Of course!  But churches across America are full of people who know all about God but have yet to truly surrender their lives to Him.  They still sit on their throne running their day-to-day life.  If you’re ready to come down off your throne (and how is that working for you anyway?) – if you’re ready to give that seat up and let Jesus sit in His rightful place, today is your day.  In spiritual warfare, without salvation, we stand no chance.
  1. Be Filled with the Holy Spirit  Eph 5:18 – “Don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled with the Spirit.”  (19-21 tells you how)  The Greek means “being constantly filled”.  Filled is not a one-time action.  It is continuous.  I need to have no part of my life – my marriage, fatherhood, career, money, sex life, body, my giving – not surrendered Once He has free reigns to all my life, all my categories, then the Spirit can freely move all across my life.
  1. Be armed for the battle Eph 6:10-13 –Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”  We must realize that every day – every single day – there is a battle and there is an enemy who wants to deceive me, confuse me, misdirect me and hurt me.

1 Peter 5:8 – “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

  1. Understand that we’re not fighting for victory but from victory It’s done.    Christ has defeated the enemy.  The death blow in WW2 was D-Day.  Once we established a beachhead in France, it was inevitable that Nazi Germany was going to be defeated.  It took almost a year but on June 6, 1944, the war was in effect over.  D-Day for us was the Cross and the empty tomb.  Satan has been dealt his death blow.  We’ve read the book, we know how it ends.

Rev 20:10 – “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”

  1. Confront the enemy  2 Cor 10:3-5 – “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”.  The truth of God is one of our greatest weapons.  We operate in divine power.

There are realms we operate in.  Most believers tend to think this is what we face …

Realm of God                    Son                  Father             Holy Spirit


Physical Realm                        Believers                     Non-Believers

 

But the reality is this …

 

Realm of God                                Son                  Father             Holy Spirit


Spiritual Realm                   Angels                Holy Spirit            Satan & Demons


Physical Realm                             Believers                     Non-Believers

 

Surveys indicate up to 2/3 of believers don’t believe in a personified Satan.  Maybe there is “darkness” or “some evil force” but not a personalized evil.  Satan does exist and he demonizes believers trying to bring pain, frustration, oppression and spiritual bondage.

If you take Satan on alone, you’ll lose.  Why?  Because you operate in different realms But… Eph 2:6-7 “He’s raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the Heavens, in Christ Jesus”.  Jesus gave authority to His followers to heal and cast out demons.  When we come at Satan in Christ’s authority, he loses.  Here’s a great picture of this from the movie War Room…

Men, you possess the power and spiritual authority to go to battle for your wife, for your children, for your home in the name and power of Jesus!

This is going to matter someday, one day.  One day, it’ll matter.  Right now, it might not.  Right now, your life may be great.  Smooth sailing.  Quickly, you find yourself back up on your high horse.  The devotionals go by the side.  You get back up on your throne to run your life.  You’re not in the Word.  Not journaling.  Things with your wife are going good.  You’ve put to the side those things that fill you with the Spirit.

One day, it’s going to matter.  The question is, where do you want to be when it matters?  Not if, but when.  Do you want to be practicing these disciplines, exercising your faith and being prepped for war?  Or do you want to be complacent?

Dealing with agreements

If we come to accept the lies and distortions of our enemy or the world, we often take the next enslaving step of making agreements …thus giving him a stronghold in our lives.  Satan wants to control our thoughts and actions and bring as much destruction as he can.  Agreements are his chief tactic.

There are some military themes to this statement.  Of course!  We are indeed talking about the tools of warfare.  If we make an agreement with the Liar, we become enslaved to it.  And we cede to him the high ground via the stronghold he has over our lives due to our agreeing with his lies.  In warfare, you never want the enemy to have the high ground.  In spiritual warfare, it is our agreements with lies that give the enemy this unfair advantage.  We open the door to this by engaging with him and listening to his lies rather than listening to Father.

Words have power …

The one who guards his mouth protects his life; the one who opens his lips invites his own ruin.  Proverbs 13:3

Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18: 21

The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble.  Proverbs 21: 23

I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.  Matthew 12: 36-37

The one who guards his mouth protects his life; the one who opens his lips invites his own ruin.  Proverbs 13:3

You know these things.  The Word warns us about our tongue.  Our words can either align us with God or with Satan…

Do two people walk hand in hand if they aren’t going to the same place?  Amos 3: 3 (The Message)

The constant message that keeps coming through to us throughout this series and throughout what we’ve been doing at Manschool for years is this … Who are you listening to?  Who told you that you were naked?  Why do you keep bringing up these past sins to Father?  Why the shame?  He’s forgiven you.  It’s gone.  It’s as far as the east is from the west.  It’s done.  Finished.

And yet, the Liar continues to whisper.  If you engage, if you give him a seat at your table, he’s going to take you right back into the shame and the sin and the “I’m such a failure”.  And, we’ll start making those agreements.

So, how do we break these agreements?

  • Ask god to reveal them
  • Identify lies behind them
  • Confess and ask forgiveness
  • Receive his forgiveness
  • Embrace truth (renounce and declare truth)
  • Ask god to free from the power of agreements.

And we engage in listening prayer with Father.  We invite him into our lives, into our story.  “What’s there Father?”  “What accusations have I agreed with and buried?”  “Unearth it Lord.”  “Show me”.

PRAYER TO BREAK AGREEMENTS

This an exercise in prayer to break those agreements we’ve made with the enemy.  You’re asking God to reveal these agreements to you.  When He reveals them…break them.  They will come to you in prayer sometimes in hearing sentences in your heard like “you’re such a ____ idiot”.  It may be a feeling and God will remind you of a persistent feeling of shame, guilt or fear.  Sometimes, you’ll actually remember a scene and play it out again in your mind.  It may be a scene of a father wound, something an older brother did to you or against you, a wound from your Mom or a grandparent, teacher, coach, boss or old girlfriend.  You’ll have that scene rush back to you in vivid detail.  Other ways agreements will be revealed – what are the phrases you constantly say to yourself?  You know, your own self-talk, things that you thought were just you speaking.  “You’re a failure”.  “You’ll never match up”.  “You are a disappointment”.  “You can never do anything right”, etc.

Lord, I come under the refuge of Jesus Christ.  I am safe in the shelter of God.  I take my refuge in your Cross, your resurrection and in your ascension. 

I simply ask you, Spirit of Truth, reveal to me, show me the agreements I have been making.

Strip away the fog.  I bring the work of my Lord Jesus Christ, the power of His Cross, His shed blood, the power of His resurrection, the power of His authority and His throne against all numbness, dullness, malaise, all forms of fog, all veils that are surrounding my spirit, soul, body or mind.  I cut off this numbness.

Jesus, you say I have the mind of Jesus Christ.  I unite my mind to your mind, my heart to your heart, my will to your will.  Again Holy Spirit, show me.  What are the agreements I have been making with my enemy?  What lies have I believed?

(silent…listen…be still)

show me Lord Jesus, show me.  Expose those things.  Come.  Shine your light here…

(silent…listen…be still)

As you start to get clarity … break them in Jesus’ name.

Lord, show me the agreements I’ve made – even just today or this week.  Show me the agreements I’ve made about you Father.

Show me what has hounded me all my life.  What is it Father?  What has hounded me all my life?

(silent…listen…be still)

I break this agreement, these agreements in the authority of Jesus Christ.  I renounce it.  I renounce all the ways I’ve given the enemy a place in my life.  I renounce it.  Jesus come into these places.  Bring Truth.  Bring Life.

If this is connected to a wound, Jesus come into this wound and heal.  I renounce fear, self-hatred, confusion and disqualification.  I renounce every agreement I’ve made as a man that I can’t do this, that is “too much”.  I renounce every agreement I’ve made that I’ll never trust anyone again.  I renounce every agreement I’ve made against You Father – that You don’t come through, that I can’t trust You, that You don’t really love me.

I renounce every agreement I’ve made with fear, agreements I’ve made with safety and control.  Forgive me of that.  I renounce every agreement I’ve made with my enemy both known and unknown, both seen and unseen in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ.  I break these agreements.  I submit to God.  Spirit of Truth search this out, show me.  I send all this to my Lord Jesus Christ.

In your name, AMEN.