slides from today > Goliath 2

The giants we face – fear, rejection, comfort, anger, addiction, self – all are designed to knock us into an “inward life”.  That wrapped up in our fear or our desire for comfort, we are curving in upon ourselves.  It’s exactly what the enemy wants you to do.

It’s a small life.  It may be safe to be wrapped up in seeking your comfort in the safety of your four walls – but it is a very small life.  There is an old saying, “A ship in the harbor is safe but that isn’t what ships are built for” … your life has a grander purpose than “self”.  As a believer in Christ, the call upon your life is very much a call outward.

We are going to spend this fall going after the giants in our lives.  Jesus has already slayed all the giants.  The work is done.  It is finished.  That said, we don’t live in Eden.  We live in a swamp and the enemy is still trying to take you down and one of his worst tricks is to hammer you with fear, rejection, addiction, etc. to try to defeat you and drive you into hiding.  You are made for more.

First point – It starts with what you’re worth.  From Todd White’s talk at Gateway Church …

Accepted into the beloved means you can never be rejected by man.  The enemy is trying to dominate your thoughts, your thinking, your mind, will and emotions to keep you from seeing your creative value and seeing the price that heaven paid for you.  The Cross isn’t just the revelation of your sin, it is the revealing of your value.  That song “I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon the Cross.”  No.  I need to know the cost because that price determines my value.

If God paid it all for me, then I am valuable.  If I see my value, I will never look in the mirror and say “worthless” again.  No, I am worth the blood of Jesus.

Jesus didn’t pay the price for me to then go hide in four walls.  He paid a price for me be a warrior and conduit to destroy hell.

You need to be reminded of your worth.  Think of your wife – think of how she looks at herself in the mirror every day or what scrolling through social media does to her heart.  She hears the whispers of “worthless” daily.  You battle this in your fight for her heart.  She isn’t worthless … she is priceless.  God paid it all for her.  The same is true for you.  God doesn’t see you as worthless, He sees you as HIS beloved son.  It’s going to be very hard to do all you can do for the Kingdom if you’re walking around constantly repeating the lies of the enemy that you have no value.  You do.

Erwin McManus reminds us from his new book, The Last Arrow

We can become so afraid of death that we never live, so afraid of failure that we never risk, so afraid of pain that we never discover how strong we really are. Too many of us believe the lies we have been told; that we’re not good enough, we’re not strong enough, we’re not talented enough… that we’re just not enough. But one of the facets of God that makes him extraordinary is his ability to do the impossible through ordinary, everyday, common people.

You cannot follow Jesus into your future if you’re holding onto your past.

From there, we flow to the second point – it’s time to lead

We frequently hear men can’t have authentic, real, deep relationships with other men.  We hear that women do community better than men.  Men will often say, “My wife knows Scripture, I don’t” and “She prays, I don’t”.   Men, those giants MUST fall.  It is time to lead.  Those statements are lies from the enemy.  I’m going to tell you that as good as women are at community, frankly, I think men can actually do it better than women.  We can actually go deeper, be more frank/candid and we can warrior for our brothers in ways women can’t.  We need to stop believing true “Tribe” can’t be done.  I’m telling you from personal experience, real, deep, authentic Tribe is doable and it is rich and it can change your life.

Maybe you don’t read the Bible or journal Scriptures.  Maybe you don’t really pray.  Maybe she has been to every Beth Moore Bible study ever held (!) … but … that doesn’t mean you can’t do this.  You can.  Today should be the day you turn this the other day.  Today is the day you pick up your Bible and start.  Today is the day you can go home and tell your wife that you’d like to pray for her and your kids.  Don’t hesitate.  This isn’t about perfection, it is about progress …

William Lawrence wrote, “On the plains of hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of victory, sat down to wait, and waiting … died!”

Don’t hesitate.  Do it.  Spiritual growth is about progress, not perfection.   Take the step.   Make progress.

Understand this, Satan will try to discourage you and defeat you by making you feel overwhelmed by the problem. You may not be able to overcome your addiction or anxiety or fear for the rest of your life, but with God’s help you can win the battle todayYou CAN lead your family today!

And to the third point – not what God can do [for] you but rather [through] you

“If you’re not where you want to be, why do you keep choosing to stay where you are? If you know there is a future waiting for you, why do you choose to stay in the past? It is time to move past what God will do for you and to what God will do through you.”          Erwin McManus – The Last Arrow

Which leads us to The Giving Tree.  Will you live incurvatus, curved in upon self?  Or will you live Excurvatus … that is a “life lived outward” for others?  Jesus didn’t die for you to be safe and comfortable.  He died that you might “die”.  Consider this from Brennan Manning’s The Furious Longing of God …

Jesus Christ has irreparably changed the world. When preached purely, His Word exalts, frightens, shocks, and forces us to reassess our whole life. The gospel breaks our train of thought, shatters our comfortable piety, and cracks open our capsule truths. The flashing spirit of Jesus Christ breaks new paths everywhere. His sentences stand like quivering swords of flame because He did not come to bring peace, but a revolution. The gospel is not a children’s fairy tale, but rather a cutting-edge, rolling-thunder, convulsive earthquake in the world of the human spirit.

By entering human history, God has demolished all previous conceptions of who God is and what man is supposed to be. We are, suddenly, presented with a God who suffers crucifixion. This is not the God of the philosophers who speak with cool detachment about a Supreme Being. A Supreme Being would never allow spit on His face.

It is jarring indeed to learn that what through in His passion and death is meant for us too: that the invitation He extends is “Don’t weep for Me! Join Me!” The life He has planned for Christians is a life much like He lived. He was not poor that we might be rich. He was not mocked that we might be honored. He was not laughed at so that we could be lauded.

Once or twice in a lifetime, you hear a story that leaves an indelible mark on your heart and mind. Such is this story I first heard in 1967. It is Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.

“Once there was a tree… and she loved a little boy.” And so begins the story of a tree being happy because she is able to make the boy happy. At first the boy desires nothing but to climb on her branches, eat her apples, and lie in her shade.

But as the boy grows, so do his desires. But because of the tree’s love, she gives her apples for him to sell for money to have real fun; her branches that he might build a house for a wife and family; and her trunk so he could build a boat and sail away from the boredom of life.

And then one day, the prodigal returns to the tree that loves him. By now, she has given him everything; all that remains of her is an old stump. The boy, now an old man, needs only a quiet place to sit and rest. And the Giving Tree gives once more.”

Ever since hearing that story many years ago, I’ve loved Silverstein’s parable. It reminds me of Jesus, of whom Paul wrote in Philippians, “He emptied Himself”. He cried from his heart, nails in His hands, and poured out His blood that we might believe His love for us. Significantly, Jesus chose the giving tree, His cross, as the demonstrative sign of His absolutely furious love for us.

How is it then that we’ve come to imagine that Christianity consists primarily in what do for God? How has this come to be the good news of Jesus? Is the Kingdom that He proclaimed to be nothing more than a community of men and women who go to church on Sunday, take an annual spiritual retreat, read their Bibles every now and then, vigorously oppose abortion, don’t watch x-rated movies, never use vulgar language, smile a lot, hold doors open for people and get along with everybody?

Is that why Jesus went through the bleak and bloody horror of Calvary? Is that why He emerged in shattering glory from the tomb? Is that why He poured out His Holy Spirit on the church? To make nicer men and women with better morals?

The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creations. Not to make better people with better morals, but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love. This, my friends, is what it means to be a Christian. Our religion never begins with what we do for God. It always starts with what God has done for us, the great and wondrous things that God dreamed of and achieved for us in Jesus Christ.

And lastly and most importantly, this reminder about our Savior as the role model for our lives …

“Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death – even to death upon a cross.”

2 Philippians 2:5-8

MORE ON ALL OF THIS NEXT WEEK as we’re going to unpack this in greater detail.  Please do all you can to go hard after this material this week.  Read it.  Pray it.  Have many conversations with Father about it.  Some amazing things are about to happen.  Men in our midst are right on the verge of a breakthrough.  Come Lord Jesus, come.

 

One thought on “the giving tree …

  1. “How desperately I want to be able to contribute something to the deal – my faith, my effort, my love, my belief. But the bottom line is that Perfect Love meets me where I am and asks only that I open my heart and receive the love for which I long.”

    That’s a quote from “Surrender to Love” by David Brenner. I think that all men want to bring something to the table, to have something to offer; Perfect Love wouldn’t be perfect if it needed anything from me. It took me months and months but I have finally accepted that truth. I was pushing in and searching all the while moving, sometimes forward and sometimes backwards but always facing the same direction.

    This is such an exciting time for us and great things are happening all around us. Come On!

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