hope is coming…

We shift gears away from the “clear eyes” part of this message and we move into the “full hearts” part of the narrative.

There is a crisis of hope in our world today.  Hope being that confident expectation that something good is coming.  Do you believe that?  Do you live it?  Do you face your day with the hope of good coming?

We desperately need union with God to navigate this world gone mad but the world we live in is perfectly designed to combat that union.  In order to find union with God, we’re going to need to learn how to live a different way.  To learn how to live as Jesus did. That’s where we’ll be going in coming weeks.

For now, let us celebrate the vastness of God.  Watch this video.  Let it nourish your soul.  Feel the power of God as you watch the cosmos scroll by.  Realize the power of the God of Creation and know that He has a plan and trust that you are safe and have faith that He is in control…

And now, watch this video from John Eldredge.  Watch and listen closely.  See how your heart is stirred.  See if you don’t remember your love for Jesus when you hear John talking about what is to come…

Easter morning, Jesus walked out of the grave.  The most dramatic illustration of restoration possible.  As John said in the video, the promise Jesus gave was the coming Kingdom – no more death, no more tears, no more pain, no more loss.  Your hearts will be free.  Free from fear and guilt and shame, depression and sorrow.  There will be no more grief.  No more assault.  No more evil.

Imagine with me.  Dream.  Think of the ones you most love.  Forgetting yourself, what would you give to free your wife or your son or your brother of the torment that oppresses them?  What will it be like one day to know your wife in all her beauty, all her gifting, with none of her pain, no battles for her to fight, no condemnation coming at her but just her, glorious and magnificent self, free to be who God created her to be?

What would you give for that?  I imagine some of us would trade our life sacrificially for our wife to have that kind of permanent freedom.

And that is what Jesus did for us.  So, let’s dance and worship and shout!

the state of humanity…

IMPORTANT NOTE — More so than most weeks, the slides below are key.  Please click on the below link and go through them deliberately and carefully.  

Here are the slides from today >>   clear eyes 17 – wake up 2

These slides take a very hard look at the situation our world is in.  Again, like last week, I don’t want you fixated on “yeah, boy, this world is really bad”.  No, the takeaway needs to be, “what is my response going to be?”

This will not be pleasant and soothing to our ears.  It is not designed to be.  Today is a wake up call.

We can continue to blanket ourselves in comfort and the entertainment of this world.  We can continue to ignore the facts of what is happening to our world.  We can keep thinking “I’m safe”.  We can continue to live a “nice, Christian, South Georgia life” that looks pretty but we can have lives that are not transformed.  A storm is coming, and we need to be ready.

Things can get a lot worse on this planet in a real hurry.  A day of reckoning is coming.  Wake up.

And what should our response to this be?  Where do you start?  We need to repent. Sin and repentance are not culturally popular words.  Our culture worships at the alters of pleasure, consumption, gratification, great coffee, world-class meals, Netflix, etc. … it is “consume what you want, you be you, do what makes you happy” and “as long as it is not hurting anyone, do whatever makes you feel good”.  Except, as we know as believers, all these things do hurt someone.  They hurt us.  They hurt the man that worships them and consumes them.  Gluttony hurts you.  Pornography fries your brain, rewires it and forever changes your view of women and sex.  Our nation is drunk on sex and pornography and pleasure and it fuels the absolute horror of sex trafficking.

And yes, for many of us, that stuff is “out there” and “not me”.  Except, it is.  To a degree, all of reading this worship at the alter of our own little personal gods.  It may be money or appearance or status or looking successful … these things we chase that we think will make us feel complete.  We have turned our backs on God to seek our own personal gratification.

We need to repent.

Flip through those slides and realize, this stuff is everywhere in America.  It is impacting your home in many ways.  It may be a child that is in his/her mid-20’s and is a “None” and has no faith.  They may have a good job and drive a nice car but they are absent anything spiritual in their lives.  It may be a creeping pull you have to pornography.  You’ve battled it for years and it keeps tripping you up.  It may be an over-attention to self – that you must be noticed and respected.  It may be the size of your retirement account and the drive you have to get to where you have “enough” for a comfortable retirement.

We need to repent.

a storm is coming

a storm is coming…

Walk to Emmaus – Thursday March 19th 7pm through Sunday March 22nd at 4pm.  If you are interested in going on the Walk, call James Warren 706 315-8883

Free Burma Rangers movie (trailer is on YouTube) – Monday February 24th 7pm or Tuesday February 25th 7pm at AMC 13 at Hollywood Connection.  You can get tickets on AMC’s site.

I’ll put the slides up after next week’s gathering.  Please come next week as we’ll dive into the present state of the world and what our response should be.

John Piper said …

“When we are tired and want to unwind from a good day’s work, we settle in with some series or movie that we hope will be minimally offensive or crass or obscene, and then we get drawn into a suspenseful or interesting plot.  And then, scene after scene portrays — listen to me on this – a God-ignoring, man-exalting, sin-condoning, sex-distorting, marriage weakening, maleness mocking, femaleness-trivializing, righteousness-ridiculing, arrogance-admiring worldview.” 

Let me repeat it — the stuff we are watching – and you know this – ignores God, exalts man, condones sin, distorts sex, weakens marriage, mocks men, trivializes women, ridicules righteousness and admires arrogance.

And Piper said – that we, ordinary, struggling saints, who long for purity of heart and all the fruits of the Holy Spirit, (and you do – bless you – you want the “more”, you want purity, you don’t want to be a slave to these things – I don’t either)  but we simply cannot help being entertained by sin — nor can we help having our minds shaped — nor can we stop our hearts from being impacted by that very entertaining worldview.

And thatis dangerous.  That’s the issue.  It isn’t the sin; it is that I am entertained by it.  My challenge last week was not to leave you with a discussion about how bad TV is.  That isn’t the problem.  Our response to last week, if it was, “Wow, TV is bad”, if that was the discussion in your group, then we missed the point.

What we need to be talking about is reordering our lives to stop ingesting the junk on TV and social media – and – ask the question of what is it in us that is drawn to the junk?  When I’m faced with my sin, the question I should be asking is, “how am I going to respond to it, what am I going to do about it?”

I heard John Mark Comer talking about this.  We are being shaped by what we watch, shaped by what we engage in.  Some of the stuff we consume, is consuming us.  You are being formed spiritually every single day.  There is intentional spiritual formation – reading Scripture, studying God’s Word, reading CS Lewis, Eldredge, John Ortberg, etc.  That is active formation = you’re doing something.  There is also unintentional spiritual formation.  This is passive.  It is sitting back and letting the world around you, form you.  This is a “human thing” – like it or not, we never stop becoming as humans.  Every minute of every single day, you are being formed.  You and I have a choice about who will be teaching us.  We are all disciples of somebody or something.  The question is not, “Are you a disciple?”.  The question is, “Who are you a disciple of?”  Jesus and His Way?  Or are we a disciple of Donald Trump, Fox News, Primetime TV, social media?

I am what I consume.  I am what I watch.

We’re going to be taking a very hard look at the situation our world is in.  Again, like last week, I don’t want you fixated on “yeah, boy, this world is really bad”.  No, the takeaway needs to be, “what is my response going to be?”

We can continue to blanket ourselves in comfort and the entertainment of this world.  We can continue to ignore the facts of what is happening to our world.  We can keep thinking “I’m safe”.  We can have a “nice, Christian life” that looks pretty but we can have lives that are not transformed.  A storm is coming, and we need to be ready.

Things can get a lot worse on this planet in a real hurry.  A day of reckoning is coming.  Wake up.

Billy Graham reminded us that there are but two roads Jesus talked about – the wide road that most everyone in culture is taking.  And, there is the narrow road…

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

There is no middle road. And all those people who tried to keep one foot in the world and one foot in Heaven, those who tried to ride both roads—all those people are on the broad road, in the sight of Christ.

This broad road is also a crowded road.  Jesus said there are many who go in by it.  I think one of the greatest sins is conformity.  We always hear, “Everybody else is doing it.” No other reason except everybody else is doing it.  Conformity.  Nobody has the moral courage anymore to stand alone.

We need to be men who are willing to stand alone.  Read Zephaniah.  It’s a short book.  Pick up the Word and read it.  See how God moves on your heart after this stark reminder of the coming Day of the LORD.

I am what I watch…

Clear eyes – I am what I watch.  I am what I do.

“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God.”  Romans 12:2

It’s about the time we have – the limited time we have.  Believe it or not, you don’t have much time left in this life.  Time flies.  January is gone.   Your kids will be out of the house before you know it.  Time is precious and we cannot slow it down.

We’ve talked before about the iPhone, social media, 24-hour news and how much time they are consuming in us.  It goes deeper than this – it is this push for more, more, more and go, go, go that our culture feeds on.  I remind you that Dallas Willard said,

“Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life.”

John Mark Comer said this …

“We live in a culture that wants to breakdown all our limitations so we can cheat time itself.  That we can read every book, eat at every cool new place, take every amazing trip, watch every movie, watch all 8 seasons of every Netflix series, rise to the top of every field…    

YOLO

No.  That’s the defining narrative of “seize the day”, it’s the defining narrative of America – it is not the defining narrative of a follower of Jesus.  You are made in the image of God.  You are dust.  You’re a human being.  You have limitations, you’re not God.  You were never supposed to be and one of the limitations we all share is 24 hours in a day.  Nobody gets more time than that.  Therefore, you must live each day deliberately.”

We come home from work, take our son to ball practice, come back home to eat, help with homework, etc.  You’ve got – maybe – one hour.  Maybe.  I’m an empty nester and maybe I’ve got 3 hours.  Regardless, the question we must ask is how will we spend that time?  If every night is 1-2 hours of mindless TV or staring at my iPhone and I repeat that pattern every night — if the 6-10 hours a week I have for something … is being spent on … nothing — where am I going?  What’s the fruit of this going to be?

If I repeat this week after week, month after month, year after year, let me ask you, will I become more like Jesus or will I gradually morph into this world?  Honest question for all of us — am I more and more becoming like this world?  The Roman’s verse warns us of not being conformed to the world.

Facebook, texting, twitter, scrolling YouTube videos, ESPN app?  Pornography?  Mindless television?  What are you watching?  Seriously?

Are you going to conformed by this world – or – will you be transformed by Jesus?

 

Time.  How are you investing your time?

Jesus told His disciples (Mark 6:31) – “come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest a while.”  That’s one path – investing my time with Jesus = silence and solitude, reading the Word, sabbath, listening to worship music, reading Eldredge or John Ortberg or Dallas Willard = feeding our soul … or … we can get on Twitter and argue with someone.  Scroll Instagram.  Watch a Netflix series.  Doing something, anything, to fill our time and numb our senses.  Which is crazy because we have so little free time available.

“Today, a number of historical circumstances are blindly flowing together accidentally conspiring to produce a climate within which it is difficult not just to think about God or pray but simply to have any interior depth whatsoever.  We are distracting ourselves into spiritual oblivion.  Pathological busyness, distraction and restlessness are major blocks to our spiritual life.”   Ronald Rolheiser

I remind you – it is totally on us to create the habitat where our souls can thrive.  The world is not going to help you with this – the world could care less about your soul … if it even believes we have souls.

If you’ve only got an hour or two at night, what will nourish your soul? 

How you spend your time – specifically your limited free time – goes a long way in determining what kind of man you will become.  I am what I do.  You are what you watch.  Don’t kid yourself men, you are what you choose to watch.

Let me say something about television.  I’m speaking to myself probably more than I’m speaking to you.  Watching shows is one of the most passive forms of thinking, which makes it one of the most powerful.  Because we’re not engaged in active thinking, we allow any number of morally suspect thoughts to enter our mind unhindered.  These thoughts immediately get comfortable in their new home – they start settling in and hanging drapes.

To say this is a cunning move by our adversary is an understatement.  Under the disguise of entertainment, evil thoughts often move into our minds and entrench themselves unopposed.  We invite them in.

John Piper talks about this.  He’s got my attention and I really want you pay attention to this.  The thing about the edgy TV, the raunchy humor, the sex scenes, the loose aggressive women who seem to love sex , the violence, the drugs … you know what I’m talking about.  This stuff is everywhere all the time and we are watching it and we are numb to it.

Why?  Why are we doing this?  The bottom line of “why?” is because I like it.  I enjoy it.  The sin itself isn’t the issue – it is that I’m enjoying the sin.  If you want to dig deeper, read this from Piper…   Scan0033

I am what I do…

We’ll talk more about this at Manschool this week.  It is a pressing issue we need to address head on.  We are what we do.  How we are entertained defines us.  What we watch and what we enjoy … shapes us.  Where we find our delight … makes us who we are as men.

This spring we’re going to push in deeper to what that means.  What it means to be an apprentice of Jesus. 

To be an apprentice of Jesus is to organize your life around 3 goals…

            Be with Jesus

            Become like Jesus

            Do what Jesus did

If you summarize those into one thing, it is transformation.  Our goal is to be transformed by Jesus – not the world – but by Jesus.  The wake up call for us is that too many of us are transformed by the world.  We’re in love with the things of this world.

Paul talked about running a race in such a way to get a prize.  To train.  To strike a blow to his body to tame it.  Like training to run a race or to box … it takes practice.  Paul said in Acts, “My only aim is to finish the race” and in 1 Timothy 6:12 said, “Fight the good fight”.

It is discipline.  Practice.  Immersion.  It is “becoming an apprentice” … an under-study, a student.  It is learning.  Watching.  Emulating.

The more you do something, the more you want to do it.  We are what we do.

The more Call of Duty you play, the more you want to play it.

Crudely, forgive me, the more pornography you see, the more you want to see.

The more junk food you eat, the more you want to eat.

Come home every night and drink a beer, the more you will want beer.

Grab a handful of cookies every night after dinner, the more you will want cookies.

Spend time on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or the ESPN app and you will want to spend more time on them.  They’ll become your nightly habit.

Exercise – the more you do it, believe it or not, the more you will want to do it.  It takes time.  It is a habit but the more you engage in it, the more you will want to do it.  Stop exercising for three weeks, don’t exercise, and see how much you want to start back up.  You don’t.

You are what you do.  The same is true for the spiritual disciplines…

Community – this tribe.  The more you do this, the more invested you get in it, the deeper you go into community with other men, the more you will want to do it.

Prayer – the more you break away from the madness of the world and carve out time to sit and be with God and pray, the more you will want to pray.

Fast – try it.  It is utter defiance to self and utter defiance to the mania of this world.  Step away.  Give something up.  Fast from it.  You will find that you will want to fast even more and you will find that “thing” doesn’t have the power of you that you thought it did.

They are disciplines, practices.  They are, for lack of a better word, exercise.  And like exercise, they will make you stronger.

The more you do them, the more they will become who you are.

Dallas Willard described them as – “They are practices, based on the lifestyle of Jesus, that create time and space that allow us to access the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit and in doing so, we can be transformed from the inside out.”

On fasting – listen to this – this is from the Jentezen Franklin’s book on fasting  … “And that’s why I love this season when we get real.  When we get honest.  When we get to the place where we feel like we’re disconnected from God, we’re connected to the world, but in comes fasting and it disconnects us from the world.  In comes prayer and it reconnects us to God.  And suddenly, we have dominion and power over the enemy, and a fresh anointing and we obtain the favor of God again on our lives”.

What we’re after is learning the way of Jesus.