Right here, right now…

About 60 men gathered this morning to kick off Manschool.  We had many new faces in the room which is great.  If you asked a man to come, thank you!

Here are the slides from this morning > clear eyes 1

The opportunities before us are enormous.  There is vast territory to be claimed for the Kingdom. Everywhere you go today, every person you come into contact with, there is a chance to minister to them and to expose them to Jesus.

But many of us come into this room broken and battered by life.  We’ve chased after our own little gods and we’re now paying the price.

The good news is there is redemption.  The good news is there is restoration. That man you once dreamed to be is still there.  He can be recovered.  The real you, the true you, the one the Father dreamed into existence – he’s still in there… awaiting to be awakened.

This season we’re going to be talking about “Clear eyes, full hearts. Can’t lose”.  That is to be men with clear eyes about this life.  A clear understanding about the realities of our brokenness, the challenges we face and how the enemy comes after us.  We’ll have a frank conversation about death and the timeline of our lives.  Lastly, we’ll develop a clarity of our calling – to become a man with a clear vision of his calling and his purpose for life.

Once we have clear eyes, we can move into a life of a full heart.  We can learn to love sacrificially. We can leave nothing on the field of life.  By no longer trying to “hold onto everything” we can learn to love fully.  As a man committed to his faith, a man unashamedly “in love” with Jesus, we have no reason to fear death.  By not fearing death, we can live this life abundantly.

A man with clear eyes and a full heart … cannot lose.  We’re going to learn how and why.

Today, we heard the stories of three coaches (two real, one fictional) – men of clear vision, clarity of purpose living with full hearts.  If you know your calling, know your purpose you can live from the inside out, not easily distracted by the things that don’t matter.  I showed the clip from Friday Night Lights where Coach Taylor got Smash Williams a tryout at Texas A&M.  Right before he stepped in to tryout, Coach looked at him and said, “Right here, right now, God has placed you here to do what you do best.”

That is our call men – that today and everyday, I will step out of bed to go about my day in the role I presently have, being the best man I can be to bring Glory to God.  That today, I will leave nothing on the field.  I will love patiently.  I will speak to everyone I encounter with a smile.  That I will honor those people that are providing services to me – validating them for the job they’re doing.  That I will look for that one person today that God has put in my way to show them His love.

“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”  Ephesians 4:1

Ready? Manschool starts this Wednesday 9/18

It’s that time.  Manschool is ready to resume this Wednesday morning at 6am.  We’ve got a great game plan for this year.  I feel strongly that this is a message that is timely for the men in our Tribe.

We’re not going to ease into It.  Instead, we’re going to hit the ground running.  Come prepared with a note book and a pen.  Come with a heart to listen to the nudges God sends you during our sessions.  Be on the lookout for other men in your midst that need to give Manschool a try.  If you feel a man you know needs to be there, ask him.  Don’t ignore the nudge.

Clear eyes – we’re going to take a good hard look at the reality of this world and our society and the way many of us are living.  Nick talked about some of this in today’s sermon.  Joshua 24:15 “If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourself whom you will serve.”  Point is, you’re going to serve something.  Will it be money?  Prosperity?  Social media?  Your career?  Possessions?  Security?  Entertainment?  Individualism?

You are going to serve something.  “but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

We are also going to be talking some about some realities about life.  The wise man goes about his day with the reality that he is taking nothing with him from this life.  The reality is, the end is coming for every one of us.  It is the 21st century.  I’m safe to say that anyone reading this over the age of 30 will not live to see the 22nd century.  I’m not.  I about to turn 55.  Safe to say, I am now assuredly past “mid-life”. My end is closer than my beginning.

I need to have clear eyes about the reality and part of that helps me form the “purpose of my life”.  Purpose gives direction.  It gives meaning and value to the process of life.

Part of “clear eyes” is finding our purpose.  Since “clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” is a football themed statement, check out Dabo Swinney talking about his purpose as a man…

A man living with a clarity of his vision for his life is a man that can live with a full heart.  We’ve got a ton of great material to cover and unpack.

I hope you’re looking forward to Manschool.  I promise you, we’re going to leave nothing on the field this year.  All in.

Clear eyes, full hearts. Can’t lose. Manschool starts 9/18

Manschool resumes in two weeks – Wednesday September 18th at 6am.  We’ll be done by 7am and small groups go for 30 minutes afterwards.

Clear eyes, full hearts.  Can’t lose.  

This will be the theme of Manschool for this “school year”.  A man of clear eyes – seeing what is going on in and around him.  A man with clear eyes to see the errors of his ways and instead, learning to lean upon the Father for his daily bread, daily guidance.  A man with clarity of vision – to see that he is being called UP into a life of service beyond self, outward living rather than curving in upon himself.  A man with clear eyes to see these are dark days we’re living in – warfare rages all around him and coming to the place that he can clearly see he cannot navigate this world alone.

Clear eyes.

Full hearts – once we develop clarity of vision, clarity of the situation at hand, we can move forward into a life of a “full heart”.  We will explore and dig into learning what it means to be a man “in love” with Jesus.  A man “sold out” on the Gospel.  A man that knows he will take nothing with him at the end of this life and instead will pour out his life into the lives of others in love.

Full hearts.

A man with clear eyes and full heart … cannot lose.  This will be our quest this year.  It’s time to prepare.  It’s time to reach out and find other men that need to be a part of our Tribe.  There are men at your work, men in our church, neighbors, hunting buddies, etc. that are out there doing life alone.  They need our Tribe.  They need to hear this message.  But it won’t happen unless you pursue them.  They aren’t just going to come.  You need to ask them.  If Manschool means a lot to you, then you can speak with confidence to them about how valuable this Tribe is.

Can’t wait.  It’s gonna be great.

 

Clear eyes, full hearts … Carver FOOTBALL

Clear eyes, full hearts.  Can’t lose.  You’re going to be hearing a lot about that this fall as we enter into another season of Manschool..  It’s from the TV series Friday Night Lights and it will be the theme for this coming up year of Manschool.

Friday night football in the South is back!  Carver’s first football game is THIS Friday night at Harris County.  Carver will have a good team again this year and the coaches are excited about the year.  Carver has a running back and a wide receiver that were both named to the pre-season all-state team.  We have the true honor and privilege to serve them meals before each game again this year.  This is a very special ministry of Christ Community, one that is almost ten years old.

I want to invite you into this ministry.  As a man, it does my heart good to go spend an evening serving these young men a meal and to have the chance to love on them.

Give it a try this week.  Come to Carver on this Thursday evening at 5:00.  Carver is located at 3100 8th Street.  Drive past the main entrance to the entrance at the very far end of the school.  Loop around to the back.  We will be in the cafeteria at the far end of that back parking lot.  We’ll be done by 6:15-6:30.

serve outside of self…

will you care for your soul?

John Eldredge at BGS Intensive…

“There are very few “normal” days.  When I first open my eyes, if God gives me that, I can cry out, “Father.  Father.  Father”.    Dallas Willard.

The warfare today is astounding.  Satan has unleashed two things on the earth in recent years – death and hatred.  There is a spirit of death everywhere.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed but good people, young people, healthy people are dying all over the place.  Drug deaths.  Suicides.  Murder/suicide.  Random execution of law enforcement.  Church shootings.  Death everywhere.

Hatred – it’s everywhere.  Political hatred is at a new all-time high.  Rage everywhere.  Social media is infected with it.  Seemingly good people are suddenly at odds with one another with a burning hatred over differences of opinion.  It’s everywhere you look.

The stories you will hear at this camp will stagger you.  This is a dark, dark world and the war is raging.

(John didn’t say this – another man at camp shared it) … this quote of, “How much blood must the sword spill of your daughters before you will wake up and realize just how intense this war is?”

We must not kid ourselves about the intensity of the war that rages against us and our families.  Denial is not a good strategy.

If it brings life, they will gravitate to it.

If I don’t like the effect something is having on me, I’ll just walk out of the room.  My family knows this.  My sons do it.  When the conversation turns petty or negative or combative, we’ll just get up and walk out of the room.

Look for the things that bring you life – being outside, riding your bike, standing in the sun soaking up vitamin D.  Grab it.  In the chaotic, even 20 minutes away is a reset.

Your soul matters … immensely.  It is worth caring for and we are living at a completely insane pace.

Two things…

First – You should have a secret life that is fuel.  A flight back to the real.  Take a rock and a stick.  Hold them.  Feel it.  Loving the real, hating the fake.

Nationwide survey in 2001 – can’t imagine what this data is like today – but back in 2001, Americans spent 93% of their lives indoors.  We have no idea how damaging that is to the soul.  Artificial world.  Artificial light.  Artificial sound.  Artificial climate.

Embrace the practices that bring you back to the “real”.

Second – practice the fine art of engaging “Benevolent Detachment”. 

“Jesus, I give everyone and everything to you.  Release them.  All of them to you.  I pray the Cross of Christ between me and them.  Between their junk and me.  Allow it no place in my life.  Bless them.  Bless them Lord.  I release them to you.”

This is your mother in law.  Yes.  Your boss.  Your co-worker.  Your biggest client.  Your parents.

You have no idea how much you’re carrying out of a “good heart”.  Release all of them to Jesus.

Practices

Augustine said, “We must empty ourselves of all that is full so that we can be filled with everything that is empty.”

10am and 2pm every day, take a monastic minute.  A one-minute pause.  60 seconds.  Twice a day to give everyone and everything to Jesus.  Release all of it.

Care for your soul is first.  It’s primary.  It’s the first thing to go, the first thing you must get back.  CS Lewis said, “It all rushes at you like a pack of wild animals.”  Your first priority is to restore.

Allow the grace of transitions.  Don’t force your soul through traumatic situations, multiple gear changes.  Pause.  Breathe.  Do nothing.  Then go to the next thing.

Beauty is everywhere.  It heals.  It nourishes.  Take in daily beauty.  It is a reminder that everything is going to be OK.  Frost.  Sun through a window.  The sound of rain.  The key is to take it in, “I receive this beauty into my soul and allow it to nourish me.”

What are you doing with the assault on your attention?  It is ruthless.  Transformation takes place when we can look to God and receive God’s beauty.  It is a full-on fight for your attention.  Watching trauma on TV brings trauma into your soul.

The whole goal is union with God.  Union of being.  Life of God flowing into us.

___________ sucks life from me.                      Part with it.

___________ brings me life.                               Spend your time there.

Some things can be rescued.  Some can’t.

Some people can be rescued.  Some can’t

Discern the two.  Be tactical where you go and what you do.

Going from shallow soil to good soil, there are no short cuts.  But remember, “Those with good soil reap a return of 30x, 60x, 100x what was planted.”

How will you care for your soul this summer?

Manschool wrapped up for this “school year” today.  What a great year we’ve had.  We closed today with about 50 men present.  A strong finish to a blessed year of ministry.

Here are the slides from today which are a recap of all the territory we covered this spring >>>>   manschool 2019 Spring Final

I just got Ransomed Heart’s newsletter for May.  It is spot on what we’ve been talking about of late.  Here it is for your blessing …

ransomed heart

Dear Friends,

I hope I’m not too late.

This is my annual “sabbath” letter, more commonly remembered as my “What are you going to do for your soul this summer?” letter.

I’m guessing you’re making plans for the next several months, even if they are plans that you can’t make plans this year. And I’d like to step in as an advocate for your soul—which probably needs some advocating, if you’re like most adults. The pace of life, the constant demands, the drone of media coming our way make any kind of soul kindness hard to come by. Our lives are so full we lost track of our souls long ago.

Thus, my letter.

You have a soul. It is a lovely gift from God. Your soul is what enables you to enjoy your life. When you find yourself laughing at something in a carefree way, that’s your soul feeling happy. When you are moved deeply by someone else’s story, that’s your soul too. When beauty makes you worship, when stillness allows you to exhale deeply, that’s your soul doing well. Your soul is an extraordinary gift from God. And it needs some care.

As Jesus said, “What does a man have if he gets all the world and loses his own soul? What can a man give to buy back his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). You can lose your soul long before you die, by the way. It’s lost quite easily in the mad rush of life, the unrelenting pressure, hurry, worry, fear and lack of any real space to simply be human. 

So—what will you do this summer to be kind to your soul? Where is your sabbath this summer?

To clarify, family “visits” do not count as sabbath or soul care. I understand the need for family visits; they play an important role in our relational networks. But they are not sabbath, not even vacation, for the simple reason that they require from us. Often they require a great deal. When we enter into the gravitational field of family visits, we encounter all the dynamics of family ecosystems—everyone’s brokenness, their demands, their disappointments, and their warfare. It’s just the way it is in a broken world. I’m not disparaging family visits; I’m simply trying to point out that they do not qualify for sabbath in any form or fashion.

Notice—what’s the condition of your soul when you return from a week with the inlaws? Don’t you typically say to yourself, “I need a vacation?” And if you could choose between the obligatory family visit or two weeks in Tahiti, which does your heart leap at? Well…there ya go.

Banzai weekends also do not count for sabbath, vacation, or soul care. Rushing out the door to get to some destination where you go-go-go all weekend can be loads of fun, but again—notice the condition you’re in Monday morning when you return to work. You’re exhausted; you need caffeine to even keep going. 

You shall know them by their fruits.

Allow me a personal story. Last summer Jesus invited me to take a road trip with him. No agenda, no deadlines, no one to take care of, or come through for. I brought my fishing gear because I thought I would spend my days fly fishing and my evenings in leisurely time with God. As my soul began to enter rest, I realized that the adrenaline rush so central to fishing was not what I needed. My soul needed care, which meant it needed quiet. Ease. A very slow pace. I ended up hardly fishing at all, which at first was a disappointment, but by day three was a rescue. 

This is very simple really—sabbath makes you feel rested. It makes you feel renewed. It restores your soul, to quote the famous Psalm. 

Sabbath reconnects you to the God you love, and allows you time to linger with him unhurried. It also reconnects you with your own soul, allows you to feel, to think about stuff you normally don’t get to think about. By its nature, sabbath is not an adrenaline experience.

So—as you make your summer plans, when is your sabbath?

It doesn’t have to be that gorgeous cottage in Hawaii, or villa in Tuscany (which is good news). Sabbath is so much more available, attainable. It can be a choice to simply set aside evenings every week this summer, where all you do is sit on the porch and enjoy the sunset, let the breeze caress your face, do absolutely nothing at all. A friend has a hammock on her porch; she said to her husband, “I’m going to lie in the hammock and do nothing; I get to be human again.”

Sabbath can be long walks in your neighborhood, the park, or “open spaces” common now to most urban areas. (Notice I didn’t say a run or mountain bike ride, because sabbath has a nonchalant nature to it. It’s slow, kind, easy, simple. Sabbath walks let you notice flowers, birds, a stream—all the things we normally rush by.)

Nothing in this mad world is going to encourage you to plan, and protect sabbath. It’s something you’ll have to choose, and fight for. But it’s utterly worth it, I promise.

So—before you set this letter down and go on with the ten other things currently demanding your attention, stay with the question for sixty seconds—What will you do for sabbath this summer? Block it out on your calendar.

Offered in love,
 

John