The Glory of God – pt 1

Here is Louie’s talk from today …

A few of you asked for the link.  One said he wanted to show his kids.  Others of you said, “I need to sit down with my wife and watch this”.  Yes!  Amen!  Do it.

Guys, if you will allow the Spirit to move and let this message in this video “percolate” in your soul, it will powerfully work in your life.  This truly is a radical message.  It explains so much.

We have an inverted theology.  I’m on top.  This is “my” story.  God’s there to support me.  When I need Him, I call on Him and everything goes right, He comes through.  This “inversion” fully and completely explains the so-called prosperity gospel – that God wants to prosper you financially.  That He wants to you have a lavish lifestyle.  That He wants to give you your every desire and dream.  My issue with those who preach this “gospel” is that they make it appear to be an almost secret formula.  My question all along, and I didn’t grasp it fully until I saw this message today, is “What if I do everything these guys are saying and God doesn’t come through for me?  What if I fail?  What if I don’t get that promotion?  What if God doesn’t magically gift me $5,000 from a long lost aunt right before my house goes into foreclosure?”  Exactly.  That is exactly why this “gospel” is NOT “The” Gospel.

It is because it is inverted.

It’s all about me.  My goals.  My dreams.  My desires.  My retirement at 50 and my consumption of every luxury my heart desires.  It’s all about how my kids turn out.  Me, me, me … it’s all about me.

Louie wakes us up to just how far off the mark we are in our theology.  And, as he painfully points out, Satan is totally fine with us embracing the Christmas story, totally fine with us being in church every Sunday and he’s totally fine with us proclaiming, “God is so good to me”as long as … we invert and keep ourselves on top and God there as simply a support system for “me-ism”

I have this picture in mind of my life …

My life is this old cabin on the river.  I spend my life restoring this cabin.  Fixing it up.  Enhancing it.  Putting every comfort in it I can to make my life as nice as I can.  And God?  He is down there underneath – the pilings driven into the cold ground supporting me.  When my “cabin” leans a little bit over there, I need God to come in and shore up that side with some cross beams.  Once it is level again, I’m good and will get on with my plans for my life in my cabin.  But you see it don’t you?  God is underneath.  He’s there just for support but all the world really needs to see is the beautifully restored, desirable, ideal life I have as this perfect cabin above the river.  It’s all about … me.

My life is inverted …

My goals, my dreams, my comfort, my accomplishments


God there as a supporting character in my story

And this explains why it is so easy for life to go off the rails.  It explains the Goliaths in our lives – why fear is so powerful, why rejection takes us out and why the pursuit of comfort can be so destructive.  Frankly, I think it also explains the core problem of pornography and lust.  It explains our love of money.  It explains so much.  The theology is inverted and wrong and there is a much better way forward.

more to come …

 

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Rejected people, reject people…

Rejected people, reject people.  Ouch.  But…true.  If you have a hard time accepting others, have a hard time getting along with others, if conflict or drama always seems to come up in your life then odds are, there is some deep rejection in your past that you haven’t dealt with.

We all have the need to be accepted.  If you’re too proud to say that, you most likely have some demons in your past that still might be lurking in the shadows.

As we learned last week – many of us live life “so that” we’ll get the outcome we desire.  That our life is the constant pursuit of either playing up to people so that they will accept us or we are the Type-A performance, restless energy, “must achieve” types that in reality, are trying to earn acceptance by our performance.  Everything I do is so that I will ______.

Many of us men live with a deep sense of rejection from our fathers or our mothers.  Many of our Dads were deeply scarred by their fathers who came from the Depression/WW2 generation of “show no emotion, never say I love you, suck it up, work until you die” men.  Many of our Dads were never told they were loved by their fathers.  And as good as hopefully your Dad was at turning the tide, collateral damage in him still carried weight onto you.  As a result, we are nagged by a deep sense of rejection from our father (or mother).

These wounds are deep.  They are real.  And they play themselves out in your life today and you’re a “so-that” kind a person.

There is a better way.  That giant of rejection must fall but there is only one way it’s going to happen.  It is to first believe you ARE God’s chosen child.  You are a son He takes great delight in.  You are worth it ALL to Him.  All the lashes and beatings and blood shed on Calvary by Christ was for you.  You are adored by Father.  He delights in you.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  You are ACCEPTED.  At this point, you can shift from “so that” living to living “because”.  Because of all Christ has done for me, I can live my life no longer striving to earn acceptance because I already am accepted.

And so the shift goes away from trying to earn the acceptance from others and instead living your life out of the place of Divine acceptance.  If I start my day knowing God accepts me, knowing He delights in me and knowing I don’t have to do anything today to earn His favor … then … I can live out today radically different than the rest of this world does it.  I no longer have to protect myself, protect my image or pose as having it all figured out.  I know I am accepted by Father.  I KNOW THAT.  Nothing else matters.  Glory to God!

Now that I know that, I can tackle today trying to be the very best me I can be simply to bring Glory and Honor to Him.  His love radiates upon me.  His delight pours over me.  Nothing else matters.  Excellence and goodness and mercy can pour out of me simply for the express purpose of bringing Glory to God.  We frequently say,“The Glory of God is man fully alive” and this is how it manifests.

The Glory of His creation.  The majesty of this world.  The incredible universe.  And yet …

He made the stars and the sun and the galaxies.  Waterfalls, mountains, green pastures, sunrises and sunsets.  All of that and yet God still cares for me.  And yet, He still knows my name.  And yet, He chose me.  I am His son.  He loves and delights in me.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow.  Be Thankful for the gift of Jesus – the unmerited, sweet gift of His grace upon us.  Brace yourself for family.  If rejection is an issue for you (and it is for almost all of us), it shows up most in extended family.  It may be your Dad or a brother or a sister or an in-law.  There is no hard-ball like family hard-ball.  Family knows how to push your buttons and when they do, the rush of rejection usually follows.  We know the potential for it is there so prepare yourself today.  Pray up your home if family is coming there.  If you are traveling, pray up your car.  Praise music should be playing tonight.  Pray over each room.  Pray over each testy family member by name.  Place the Cross of Christ between you and those family members that have the greatest potential to defeat you.  Pray over and for your wife.  We know the battle is coming and we are wise to prepare in advance.

Your love never fails

After Manschool this morning, this song came on my playlist.  The words were timely…

Nothing can separate.  Even if I ran away.  Your love never fails

I know I still make mistakes.  But You have new mercies for me everyday.  Your love never fails

You stay the same through the ages.  Your love never changes.  There maybe pain in the night but joy comes in the morning

And when the oceans rage, I don’t have to be afraid because I know that You love me.  Your love never fails

The wind is strong and the water’s deep but I’m not alone here in these open seas cause Your love never fails

The chasm is far too wide.  I never thought I’d reach the other side.  But Your love never fails.  You make, all things, work together for my good.

What are you doing – daily – to draw upon the Vine and stay connected to the Father?  Men, as we’ve discussed about fear and now rejection, there are opposing forces fighting us each and every day.  There is pain in the night.  I will make mistakes.  Oceans will rage, the wind is strong and the waters are deep.  But His love never fails me.

To combat this onslaught, we worship.  To combat this, we pray.  To combat this, we get in the Word.  

You cannot hear songs like this one enough.  Play it.  Repeat.  Repeat it again.  Your time in your car is valuable time.  Make it a time of restoration.  Fortify.  Draw upon the Vine.  Hear the words and let them heal you.  Be reminded that you’re God’s beloved son in whom He is well pleased.

 

 

Goliath of rejection … must fall

Here are the slides from this morning >> Rejection must fall

Let me invite you into the Word.  Go read 1 Samuel 17.  Read the account of David vs. Goliath.  Look for the undercurrents in the text.  Goliath taunted the “ruddy faced” David and mocked him.  Before that, his father sent him to the front lines to take bread to his brothers and cheese to the commander.  He was an errand boy – not worthy of fighting – just good for delivering cheese.  His older brother tried to verbally knock him back with “go back to tending to your few sheep“.  All he was good for was sheep tending but in reality, he was only good for tending a few of them.  And then, once he negotiated his way up to an audience with the king, Saul dismissed him as incapable of fighting because he was “just a boy”.

As much as we wish it wasn’t so, the opinions of others matter.  A word of rejection, even something small that wasn’t even aimed to really hurt us, can stick and sting.  For some of us, rejection is like Everest.  Real.  Raw.  Consequential.  And devastating.  Even when the intention is not harmful, a tiny seed of rejection can take root and wreak havoc in seasons to come.

We have two main motivators in life – “So that” and “Because”.  We do enough, often enough, so that we get the outcome we want from God.  The religious person reads his bible, but he does it, so that, God will love him more.  The man of faith reads because Christ has brought him life and he desires more of Christ.  A man of faith starts with what Jesus has done and as a result, he walks out his life confident because of what Christ has done for him and in him.

There are two sides to rejection.  On one side is the cousin called insecurity, low self-esteem, low self-worth, inferiority, and even self-hate.

On the other side – and these are related – is the cousin called “driven to succeed”, perfectionism, winning at all costs, and being an overachiever.

Both sets are from the same dysfunctional family.  If you’ve been told you’re worthless, then you will think low of yourself.  And if you’ve been told you’re only valuable when you perform, then you will think you’ve got to prove yourself every single time to be accepted.  Both are coping signs that you’re battling rejection.

Somewhere along the way, a seed of rejection was planted in you.  It causes you to think there’s something inferior about you – there is something you lack to be everything you can be.  We see the signs of this everywhere today.  The fallen world we live in is corrupted by a sense of inferiority.  We learn early in life to compare ourselves with everybody else.  We start looking around to figure out how we’re doing. Social media is devastating in this regard.

As a kid growing up, I didn’t have that many people to compare myself to – a few kids on my street and 20 or so kids in my class.  But today, thanks to social media, we’ve got an uncountable number of people to compare ourselves to.  The entire world is up for comparison.  Every time a person posts on social media, that person is basically asking, “How do I measure up, world?  Do you like me or not?”

Touchy point here but why else would a 40-year old mother of three post a selfie of herself driving her car or dressed up for a night out on the town with her husband?  Why else … except … that she does it for the string of comments like, “Oh my gosh, you’re so beautiful” from all her friends.  What’s at the root, beneath all this?

If my selfie post gets 78 likes but Jamie’s … Jamie’s posts always get 200-250 likes and Susie … why is it that she commented on Jamie’s photo… but she didn’t make a comment about mine?  Is she mad at me?  What could I have done to upset her?  Maybe Jamie really is beautiful – of course she is, I thought it when I saw her picture – and maybe… I’m not.

Men maybe the selfie thing isn’t an issue for us – but – what is?  What is it that you do that cries out “Accept me”, “Approve of me”?  And the even deeper question is “Why?”  What is beneath our motives?

IF WE LIVE FOR PEOPLE’S APPROVAL, WE WILL DIE BY THEIR REJECTION.

If we’re not careful, then we will forget we were miraculously created by God for a purpose – for our Promised Land – and for a plan that He set in motion for our lives.  He didn’t ask us to compare ourselves to others or run someone else’s race.  He said, “Run your race.”   Period.   He didn’t ask us to work on someone else’s timetable.  He wants us to work on His timetable.  God wants us to know in our souls as deep truth that He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

When we lose sight of our miraculous beginnings, and our re-creation in the beauty of the person of Christ, then we’re going to be taunted and tormented by this giant of rejection all the days of our lives.

David was told he couldn’t fight Goliath because he was just a boy. We all have heard things like that in our lives… You’re never going to do that.  Don’t get any crazy ideas.  Don’t get your hopes up.  You’re never going to amount to anything.  You’re not smart enough.  Not talented enough.  Not beautiful enough.  Not man enough.  Not worthy enough.  Not wanted enough.  You’re just not … enough.

Rejection comes at all of us in different ways.  Some of us have incredible potential, but we don’t want to try anything bold because we don’t want to fail.  We make the easy choice to live safe in mediocrity because we think that is better than rejection.  Others of us are determined to win at all costs to prove we’re good enough, worthy enough, wanted enough.  We won’t rest until we’re first in the class, the CEO, the most respected man in the group.  But we’re never happy because we’re building our self-worth based solely on our accomplishments.

For this giant of rejection to fall, we must shift from living for acceptance from others – that everything I do will be to make me good enough, get me accepted and make them like me more. We shift from living for acceptance to living from acceptance.  At the start of Jesus’ ministry before any of the miracles or healing or teaching, God’s voice came down and said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”.  Jesus didn’t go through His ministry hoping He’d earn God’s acceptance.  He already had it and knew it.

If we live each day, one day at a time with our eyes focused upward on God knowing He accepts us, adores us, designed us, treasures us … then we can set out that day to run the race to very best of our ability to cast glory upon God not to earn His approval.  No amount of success can bring down the giant of rejection.  Only the unconditional love of God can defeat this giant – knowing you’re His son and that He is well pleased with you can.

Fear and hiding… why we pose…

here are the slides from this morning > Fear and hiding

Fear generally stems from three areas in our lives –

1) we were raised in a fearful environment by fearful parents … always worried about what could go wrong.  That spirit of fear was planted in us and we find ourselves today as worried about life as our parents were.  And… we find that this fear paralyzes us into a corner of seeking safety above any risk.  The “fear of fear itself” is debilitating.

2) control – we were probably raised in a controlling environment by controlling parents and their obsessive desire to control every outcome has taken root in us and as a kid growing up in that environment, we did our own thing to rebel from the control and find our freedom.  Oftentimes, that led to heartache of our own doing.  Or maybe, it has nothing to do with our parents.  Maybe, it is personal choices we made that brought on a lot of pain and somewhere along the way, we made an agreement to never be exposed again and so to accomplish that, we set out to radically control every possible outcome in our lives.  Whenever we sense there is something out of our control, fear rushes in.  Anxiety comes.  Anger follows.  We must have our way.

3) concealment – hiding.  We hide.  We’ve sinned, we’ve messed up and rather than confess it and release it, we hide it.  Bury it.  Pretend it didn’t happen.  Brush it off.  Pose.  Put on the mask that we don’t struggle, we have it all figured out, we don’t fear, we aren’t vulnerable, we didn’t make that mistake, it didn’t happen.  And then… it happens again.  The temptation rushes back to try it again.  The lies follow of no one will know”, “all your buddies are looking at porn”, or “you’ve got this under control, a few drinks every night won’t hurt”.  Rather than admit we’re weak, tempted or might have a problem, we stuff it down, rinse and repeat.  The cycle continues.  We bury ourselves further into the lies of “I’ve got this under control, no one needs to know about this” and then, the enemy pounds you with condemnation.  The big fear is “What if I am exposed?  What if everyone found out who the real me is?”  THAT giant must fall.

The enemy thrives in the darkness.  He never wants you to confess.  Giving into fear is expressing faith in the enemy.  Speaking of your weaknesses, your failures, your mistakes, owning them, coming clean, dropping the mask of the poser who has it all figured out … THAT is faith in the Lord.  As believers in Christ, why do we hide?  What do we have to hide?  What do we have to fear?  If we believe and profess our faith in Christ and believe in the power of the Cross and the healing of the resurrection … why would we ever again need to hide?

You may suffer from all three of the above.  You may have posed all your life.  You may have bought the lie that it is too late for you to change.  I’m telling  you that right now, right this very moment as you read this, your life can turn completely around this very second.  Right now… the giant of fear can fall in your life.  The poser can die.  It is never too late to be authentic.  In fact, it is in defiance of tyranny that you can stand right where you are, close your eyes, throw your hands up and confess your sins and lay them at the foot of the Cross.  Today … you can leave all that behind and in so doing, experience a sweet freedom you thought you’d never again experience.  You cannot slay the giant of fear on your own.  Some of this roots back to how you were raised as a kid and the patterns are baked into your life for 40,50 or 60 years.  But … Jesus.  Jesus can slay that giant right now, this very minute.  You can begin the process of letting go of your past and how you were raised and you can let go of the fear that consumes you and runs you life and you can let the Lord Jesus run your life from today forward.  You can let go of trying to control every future outcome and live today, for today trusting God with just today.  Will you surrender?  Will you give it all up today and drop the old self, the old patterns, the old failures and lay it all at the Cross?

Fighting for your Promised Land

I went to South Carolina with a mission, a dream.  There was something bigger than me in this day.  It was a dream.  I was going to take a tour of Clemson’s new football operations facility and to hopefully get down on the field of Death Valley.  I had tickets the next night to the Clemson/Tech game but alas, the driving downpour and very cold temps kept us from the game.  The day before was glorious.  70 degrees and clear blue skies.

But before I headed down the road, there was a battle to fight.

The enemy came down hard on me the night before and that morning.  Accusation.  “You’re a loser”.  “You have no business doing this”.  Potential problems back at home at work came in hard upon me – “this isn’t going to go well”, “this situation at work will turn against you and you’ll fail”.  It was an onslaught.

Friday morning, I headed out alone on this quest.  I prayed hard on the way.  Shed a tear or two.  I prayed that Jimmy Evans prayer …

“In the name of Jesus, I don’t have fear.  I’m not going to run from you.  I’m taking my territory back from you right now.  You’re standing on my promised land and I won’t rest until I have it back and you’re gone.  I bind your voice.  I bind your lies.  I bind your influence and in their place, I pray for a spirit of love, of power, and of sound mind.  God give me a spirit of love.  I want to be motivated by love, power and your wisdom.  I declare victory right now.  The devil will not devour me.  I’m the child of Almighty God.  I’m invested with divine authority and wherever I go, you go with me Lord Jesus.  Help me fulfill my perfect destiny in You. From today forward, when I hear that roar, I will run toward it and take authority over it and claim my promised land in Jesus name.”

I cranked that Elevation Worship song from the last post, “Do it Again”.  God met me there on that beautiful country road.  The enemy tried – my iPhone update glitched up my GPS and my maps weren’t working.  I got lost five miles from Clemson.  (You see, he doesn’t fight fair and he doesn’t let up).  I turned around, saw a corvette and followed it.  A block away, I saw an elderly gentleman at a tire store wearing a Clemson hat.  Using old fashioned GPS, I rolled the window down, “Excuse me sir, can you tell me how to get to Clemson?”  He smiled and said, “It’s three miles right down this road.  You’re going to God’s country”.  Amen.

I made it to my destination and met my host.  He gave me a full tour.  I saw it all – the locker room, the dining hall, the movie theater, practice fields, indoor practice field and Coach Swinney’s office.  And he blessed me with a tour of Tiger Stadium – Death Valley – including getting to go on the field.  Amazing.

The level of detail inside the Football operations facility is amazing.  It is state of the art.  College football is big business.  I was amazed at the signs everywhere of encouragement and uplifting.  I asked my host, “How much of all this is Coach Swinney?”  And he said, “Every bit.  Everything you see, he had a hand in.  He knew exactly what he wanted it to be and how it was to look.  Even down to these signs”.  Coach Swinney had a vision.  He had a Promised Land in mind and fighting the naysayers and the fear and the doubts, he pressed forward.  He is all about family and building the complete man – athlete, husband, father, businessman.  He’s living his dream.  His dream is blessing a lot of young men, their families and all the employees that support that program.

Here is the cool thing.  I left a book on Coach Swinney’s desk – The Barbarian Way – and in there, I wrote him a note saying “Coach, I love what you’re doing at Clemson.  Love the focus on the complete man and equipping these young men for life beyond football.  Clearly, you’re in your Promised Land”.  And to my host, I knew his daughter had health issues and as I prayed about what to give him, John Eldredge’s new book, “All things New” – which is about God’s restoration of all things – a new heaven and a new earth.  It’s a very hopeful book.  And I wrote him a note saying that the word I’d received for him was “RESTORATION” As our time was coming to an end, he told me his wife has MS and his daughter has MS and Autism.  Indeed … the hope of RESTORATION is balm to this man’s soul.

My trip was a dream.  It was also a divine mission.  Little did I know.  Little did I know that I’d talk about “Promised Land” in a note to Coach and then come to find out, he is living out his Promised Land.  Little did I know that my new friend would have so many heavy things in his life and I’d hand him a book about RESTORATION.  God had a purpose for me that day that was WAY beyond me.  It was opposed.  Of course it was.  But God was Triumphant … as He … ALWAYS … is.  Amen.