soul care – will you pause?

(Note- we are meeting next week, the day before Thanksgiving)  You spend 93% of your time indoors – artificial air, artificial lighting, plastics, synthetic fabrics, etc.  Fake.  God is in the real.  The fake atrophies the soul.  Will you pause to seek Him?  Read on for a great tool that’s free for you.

You spend 4-8 hours a day on your phone.  10 hours a day on media.  It does not create margin.  Technology, while it ramps up efficiency, it consumes your margin.  20+ years ago, there was limited email and no texting and almost no internet.  You came home from work and that was that.  Work was left back at work.  Not now.  Now they can get you 24/7 and they expect you to always be available.

 

You should not ask your soul to live at the pace of your iPhone. 

 

How hard pressed are we that typing a reply to a text seems burdensome i.e. “I just don’t have the time to reply back to this, so I’ll send a thumbs up emoji”.   

We must learn a way to sustain whole-heartedness in a world gone mad.  This is a brutal time.  Insane pace of life.  Tsunami of media/technology.  We’re aware of too much heartache.  The madness and the pace of things has an impact on me.  Pay attention to my soul.  Notice how easily distracted I am.  I feel like my soul is getting shallower.  I’m lacking the ability to give God my presence.  The soul is not shallow – but it is being pushed there.

The hurried pace, the over-commitment, the over-scheduling, texting while driving to maximize your productivity, frenetic pace of information pouring through you … it has a way of pushing you into the shallows.  The shallow water.

Pay attention to the depth of a person’s soul.  CS Lewis Great Divorce – the people from hell were sent to Heaven but they were so shallow, that they couldn’t withstand the depth of Heaven.  Even the grass hurt their feet.

Shallow-fied souls that are turning into barren fields…

dried field

Starved of water, their soil dries up and becomes hard baked.  Barren ground cannot receive rain.  It is why flash floods happen – the water just rushes off.

The River of Life flows but we cannot receive it.

We medicate and distract.  Binging on TV.  Chocolate.  Apps.  Wine.  It does not heal the soul or the fragmentation that comes.

To navigate this hour requires a soul that is saturated with God – like this picture of the sponge.  Your life saturated by His love.  His wisdom.  His life.  His beauty…

sponge

The soul is a vessel designed to be filled with God and to overflow with Him.  A reservoir filled up and it spills over and from which will flow rivers of life.  Saturated with God.  Like a sail catching the breath of God – carried by it.  But if the soul is torn to bits, it cannot catch the wind.  This world is designed to shred the soul.

The reason you can’t find more of God is become you aren’t looking with much of yourself.  There’s not much of you left.  But, you can get it back.

How?

You don’t have to be on social media.  I’m not on facebook, instagram, snapchat and I just shut down my twitter.  My life goes on.  I don’t have to know what all is being posted there.  I don’t have to keep up with the impeachment trial.  What will happen, is going to happen.  Nothing I can do will change it but for me to engage in it, watch it, comment on it, read other’s tweets about it (or any other topic) … only serves to suck me into the drama.

Your soul was not meant to move at the pace of your iPhone.  Your soul was not meant to engage with media every waking moment.  To break free, you have to break ties.

Psalm 1:1-4  Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law, day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

and then this …

Matthew 11:28-30 The Message   “Are you tired?  Worn out?  Burned out on religion? Come to me.  Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.  I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

This is what we’re after.  And here is another great tool to help you.  Check out the “One-minute pause” app.  You can download this on the app store.  It’s free.  It will chime at you at 10am and 2pm (or whatever time you set) and center you back on God.  Check it out.  It’s a very powerful tool…

one minute pause

We will dig deeper into this next week at manschool

**** yes, we are meeting next week, the day before Thanksgiving ****

true surrender…

here are the slides from this morning > Clear eyes 8 – when we’re tested

We will all be tested.  We will all fall.  As we’ve established this fall, that day is coming for each one of us.  God’s Word is crystal clear on this …

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.   James 1:2-4

Blessed is the man who endures trials, because when he passes the test, he will receive the crown of life that He has promised to those who love Him.   James 1:12

No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.”  For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone.  But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires.  Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.  James 1:13

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 1:6-7

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.  1 Peter 4:12-13

We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.   Romans 5:3-4

WE WILL ALL BE TESTED.

Lysa TerKeurst speaks to the “why” behind these tests …

“God doesn’t want you or me to suffer.  But He will allow it in doses to increase our trust.  Our pain and suffering isn’t to hurt us.  It’s to save us.  To save us from a life where we are self-reliant, self-satisfied, self-absorbed and set up for the greatest pain of all … separation from God.  The enemy would love for me to get caught up in the temptations of this world.  He would love for me to give in to the devastating pull of my constant cravings for physical pleasure.  The insatiable longing for all that I see.  The pride that comes with achieving and owning more and more.”

I don’t know about you but I KNOW I can very quickly become self-reliant, self-satisfied and self-absorbed.  Give me enough good times, enough success, enough smooth sailing and real quickly, it’s going to be all about me.  And, if I am lucky, God is going to allow me to get knocked off that high horse so He can teach me a lesson.  “Consider it pure joy … when you experience trials”.  “Blessed is the man that endures trials…”

Read this story.  It is such a powerful example of the point I’m trying to make …

In 2012, Kristen Ley started Thimblepress, a design, print, and gift shop in Jackson, Mississippi.  By 2015, the company expanded to more than 1,500 retailers across the globe.  “To the world, Thimblepress was a success.  To customers we were a success.  To anyone working with us, we were a success – but I never said, “How are you Kristen?  Are you giving yourself time to breathe?  Are you giving yourself time to get back to God?”

In October, Kristen spoke at a women’s retreat.  One of the Scriptures she read was Jesus telling His disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).  She has had to learn that the hard way.

“Anything can be made an idol in our life. … I believe the devil knew exactly how to pull me from God.  I’ve always been super determined and strong-willed, strong-headed,” she said.

When Thimblepress started picking up steam between 2013 and 2015, “things were coming at me so fast.  Dramatic things, amazing things.  And I was like, ‘There’s no doubt this is the Lord. ….’ And I think a lot of it was.  But I think some of it was also the devil,” she said.  “I was still in prayer.  I was still in the Word.  But it was kind of like really a struggle.”

By 2016, Thimblepress was in 1,500 retail stores and Kristen was working on her fifth collaboration with Hallmark.  Her product was featured in Oprah’s magazine.  In November 2015, Kristen got an email from Target.  She thought it was spam.  By April 2017, Thimblepress was in every Target store in the country.

“I thought, ‘This is God — He is keeping me busy.’

“It’s hard for me to say no… So I was saying yes to almost every opportunity, (and) slowly my soul began to deteriorate,” she said.

“I stopped being in the Word.  I stopped praying.  I stopped going to church.

“I used to run six miles a day.  I stopped taking care of myself. … It became about, who can I be in this world?  How can I stand out in this world?  Because that’s how God’s using me. That’s how He’s going to show His love, through my accomplishments.”

(Do you see it? – self-reliant, self-satisfied, self-absorbed)  After Thimblepress launched in Target stores, “I was so busy that I didn’t even take time to really celebrate it. I was like, ‘What’s next?’”  She traded in her old hobbies – running and attending church – for more time to focus on her growing business, “If I wasn’t achieving something every week, getting X number of sales or announcing new collaborations, then I felt like a failure.”

The gap between more and enough never closes.

For several months, God tried to get Kristen’s attention in small ways. Then in May 2017, He allowed her world to crumble around her so loudly — in her work and in her life — that there was no denying God was doing something.  He was fighting for her soul.  But it felt like He was against her.

“I was in Carmel California when I got a phone call telling me we had been hacked and someone swindled thousands of dollars from my company.”  She scrambled to find a way to get cash to pay her vendors.  From Carmel, there wasn’t much she could do.  “God said, “I’m about to bring the hammer down on your life, and you’re not going to be able to do anything about it.”  She said, “I believe He put me in Carmel because had I been back in Jackson, I could have jumped into work to fix it.  In Carmel, there wasn’t much I could do.  I think God had been trying to get my attention for a long time, and out there, I was forced to pause and listen.”

“He broke my bones.  And I was so angry.  It took me a long time to admit that.”

After several months of praying frustrated prayers and yelling at God from the roof of her apartment, she finally surrendered her will for His in October 2017.  As much as she could at the time, anyway.

“It was a progressive development of true surrender.”

She started giving herself small goals for her relationship with God.  She committed to reading a daily devotional, reading whatever Scripture it referenced and praying. She wrote her prayers in longhand, as a journal.  “I started waking up early and spending two hours meditating, praying and writing down my prayers.  They were like 17 pages long, front and back.  I just started pouring everything out and getting back to why I started the business in the first place.”

She started realizing that God had been trying to get her attention for a year and a half.  Instead of yelling at God, she was now yelling at Satan — the one who had stolen so much of her time, energy and heart — in her apartment: “Get out of my home. Get out of this space.  Get out of my life. You are NOT WELCOME.  Remove yourself.”

God clearly laid out a plan for Kristen to radically shrink her business, eliminate her 20 person staff, close her store and concentrate on the core of her business.  Letting all those people go was painful but she followed God’s lead.  The process made her realize: Yes, you can grow a company very quickly, but how much will you lose in the process?“  I gained 80 pounds in 8 years.  I was mentally and physically unhealthy.  And I’m so thankful for that time, because it’s what brought me back to life and brought me back to God.”

Kristen knows that if God hadn’t turned her around, “scenario B” would’ve played out.  “I believe we are all built searching for something, which is God. … So eventually, because I was no longer in relationship with Him, I was going to start searching.  What would that have looked like?”

“Would it have looked like materialism?  ‘I’ve got to have all the things.’  Would it have looked like sexual immorality?” she said.  “Yeah, it could’ve.  And it could’ve even looked so bad as my mouth (becoming) a mouth for the (devil).  And Lord was like, ‘You’ve got a big mouth, and I’m not about to let you use it for him.’”

As God has used Kristen’s natural desire to teach and encourage others, she no longer sees Thimblepress as her one purpose.  At His direction, she is shrinking the company “down to the best of the best,” she said.  What’s more, she’s using Thimblepress more intentionally to bring Jesus to the next generation of women.

“I have partnerships coming out in January that I never could have imagined.  Half of the stuff coming out in January is faith-based.  (I used to say,) ‘But I want to make cool products.’  But they can be cool, and faith-based, and people don’t realize it until it hits them.  It can be seamless.  This year I came out with a hat that said ‘influencer’ on it.  But it had, like, a double meaning – as in, not a social media influencer.  I’m an influencer for Christ.”

So what’s her next dream?  “My dream right now is to float and just let God work.”

Ahhh, there is so much gold in this story!  We chase whatever balloon we think we need to find a fulfilling life only to later learn, painfully, that the gap between more and enough never closes.

Kristen lost herself in her career, her dream.  Eventually that dream became a monster that was devouring her.  She put God on the back burner to chase her dream.  Gloriously, He brought her back.  He never quit pursuing her and she began the “progressive development of true surrender”.  I love it.

This is it for each one of us.  What balloon are you blowing up that you think will define your life, make you who you are, meet the one deep need you have?  STOP.  Give it up.  Surrender.  Let God take you where He wants to take you.  Float and just let God work.

we will all be tested…

Here are the slides from this morning > Clear eyes 7 – we will all be tested

“Give all of us here the strength to remember that life is so very fragile.  We are all vulnerable and we will all, at some point in our lives, fall.  We will all fall.  We must carry this in our hearts that what we have is special.  That it can be taken from us and that when it is taken from us, we will be tested.  We will be tested to our very souls.  We will all be tested.”   Friday Night Lights

We will all be tested.  In facing death and in the challenges of living in this broken world.  There is no doubt, we will all face major tests.

We began this fall with this statement –

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 he 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 … he’s just waiting to be awakened.

We also said a few weeks ago –

Sometimes a single phone call can change the entire trajectory of your life.  Oftentimes, that call is a crisis.  The storms are going to come.  One day, a phone call is coming for you.  One day, news is going to rock your world.

This is quite disruptive.  But … it is also holy.  If I deny these things and keep blowing my balloon up, I am trying to preserve my life, my ideal, my story.  And … I will end up being very disappointed.  But if I can embrace the reality of death and realize, this isn’t my life anyway – it is a gift, it is a purpose beyond self, it is a step along the way into the Kingdom – then I can truly live.  Maximus said it well – “what we do in life, echoes in eternity”

When we are tested, it will very helpful to remember these promises from the LORD…

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold onto you with my righteous hand. Isaiah 41:1-2

Now this is what the LORD says – the One who created you, Jacob, you, Israel – “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.  I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you.  You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.”  Isaiah 43:1-2

Notice – the emphasis is on “when” … not “if”.

So, OK, why am I tested?  Lysa TerKeurst shared this explanation that I believe is spot on…

“God doesn’t want you or me to suffer.  But He will allow it in doses to increase our trust.  Our pain and suffering isn’t to hurt us.  It’s to save us.  To save us from a life where we are self-reliant, self-satisfied, self-absorbed and set up for the greatest pain of all … separation from God. 

Think about why we will yank a child back from running across a street.  The initial jerk might cause the child some pain and confusion.  But that tiny bit of suffering is for the greater good of saving the child from the worse suffering of getting hit by a car.  The situation with my colon caused me lots of pain and confusion. But it was for the greater good of saving me from a colon rupture and a possible death. 

To trust God is to trust His timing.  To trust God is to trust His way.  God loves me too much to answer my prayers at any other time than the right time and in any other way other than the right way.

Most of all, He knows if I saw the full road ahead, I would stop about halfway through and never choose to continue with His plan.  I would think the cost is too high, the path too scary, the way too daunting, and the enemy too frightening.  No human is strong enough to withstand seeing too much of God’s plan in advance.  It must be revealed daily.  And we must be led to it and through it slowly.

The enemy would love for me to get caught up in the temptations of this world.  He would love for me to give in to the devastating pull of my constant cravings for physical pleasure.  The insatiable longing for all that I see.  The pride that comes with achieving and owning more and more.”

Do you have “clear eyes” about this?  We will all be tested.

amazon Jesus…

“If only I had _______________ I would be content.”  What goes in the blank?  We spend our lives chasing these blanks trying to fill them up believing they will bring contentment.  Think about the nicest car you ever bought.  Where is that car now?  If you still have it, does it meet all your needs?  Are you a better man because you drive that car?  Or… has it now grown stale and you’re thinking, “Maybe it is time to trade up”?  Sadly, this line of thinking/rationalizing has ended many a man’s marriage.

Blow all you want, that balloon isn’t going to do it for you (see previous “balloons” post) because of this …

popping balloon

Whatever “it” is, it will eventually go away.

Here’s what happens: it’s not just that you have a dream, but that your heart gets captured by your dream.  It becomes your definition of “life”.   You no longer hold your dreams with open arms.

open arms

What was once a desire has morphed into a demand, and it won’t be long before you view that demand as a need.  This thing you once wished that you had becomes your nonnegotiable, the thing that you are unwilling to live without.  Soon you’re unhappy, not because life has been hard or God has been unfaithful, but because this thing that is effectively and functionally now ruling your heart lies beyond your grasp.  You are dependent and discouraged.  You envy people who seem to have captured their dreams.  You wonder why you’ve been singled out.  You wonder why God has forgotten you.  Is it OK to dream?  Yes, but when your dream becomes a ruling thing, it wreaks havoc on your spiritual life.

So, back to our balloons.  We build these things up.  We orchestrate and, in many cases, manipulate life to make it go our way.  We want all the breaks.  We want all the chips to fall in the right places at the right time.  We want our children to be successful.  We want them starting at first base and batting fourth.  We want them as the quarterback or the homecoming queen.  We want our facebook/Instagram image of our life and family to be perfect.  We want people to envy us.  We want people to notice us.  We seek fame and recognition.  We dream of building our businesses to their maximum potential and then selling them out at the precise right time for the maximum payoff.

We want all these balloons blown to their max capacity to shine like a colorful rainbow of an abundant life.  But we must have clear eyes about this.

Pay attention to what happens to your relationship with God as your dreams gobble up more of the turf of your heart.  God is no longer the thing that motivates you and gives you courage and hope.  God is no longer your source of sturdy joy.  The glory of God is no longer the thing that you’re living for.  Awe of God is no longer the reason you do everything you do(New Morning Mercies)

Sadly, God has been reduced to a delivery system; your Savior has become Amazon Jesus.  If He delivers, you’ll worship and serve Him, but if He fails to deliver, you’ll question His goodness and love, you’ll have little motivation to offer your life to Him.

Amazon Jesus … the man who wanted more and more and more and filled his arms up with stuff.

arms full

No matter what we accomplish or how much we’re able to enjoy or how much we’re able to acquire, still we feel like we’re striving after the wind.  We never really gain anything.

So, keep going if you wish.  Keep chasing these things and seeing how many boxes amazon can deliver to you.  But pay attention to this “clear eyes” comment from from Alan Redpath a British evangelist …

“Crushed and brought back to our senses realizing God is going to have His way.  One by one, God took them from me, all the things I valued most until I was empty handed.  Every glittering toy was lost, and I walked earth’s highways grieving in my rags and poverty until I heard His voice inviting, “Lift those empty hands to me.”  And so, I turned my hands toward heaven, and He filled them with a store of His own transcendent riches til they could contain no more.  And at last, I comprehended in my stupid mind that God could not pour His riches into hands that were already full.  When God wants to accomplish an impossible task, He takes an impossible man and crushes him.”

There is an impossible task out there God wants you to accomplish for the Kingdom.  But you can’t do it if your arms are slammed full of the idols you’ve been chasing.  God will eventually have His way.  Perhaps it is time for me to lay my agenda down, time to empty my arms and clear my slate so the LORD can work through me.  Otherwise it might take a storm and a lot of pain if I keep on running after “life” other than in Him.

balloons…

here are the slides from this week > clear eyes 6 – balloons

A 30-year mentor of mine told me before we left for our anniversary trip, “Remember the secret to marriage – try to out serve each other”.  That stuck with me all throughout the trip.  To put my needs aside and to serve her.  To serve without condition or payback.  To do so lovingly and happily.  Those thoughts convicted me.  Am I doing this?  Am I living for her … or me?

2 Cor 5:15 – “and He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.”

Paul is reminding us that the DNA of sin is selfishness.  Sin causes us to ignore God’s existence and His rightful claim on every area of my life.  Because God is not in His rightful place in my living – that is, in the center of it all (see the slides).  I then insert myself in that place.  My life becomes all about me.  The borders of my concern go little further than my concerns for me.  I reduce my focus down to the small spaces of my wants, my needs, and my feelings.  I make it all about me.  The desires of my heart are gobbled up by my ease, my comfort, my pleasure and my success.  I want what I want and when I get what I want, I am happy.  At least for a little while.

You can keep going and keep chasing “life” in this world.  More adventure, more comfort, more stuff, bigger TVs, nicer cars, more fulfillment, more satisfaction.  You chase all you want but you’re never going to be satisfied.  You never get “there”.  You can have all the sex you ever imagined, and it’ll never be enough.  You can have all the money you ever thought you’d need, and you’d quickly find out, you want more.  It is always the quest for more, more, more.

The reflective question for us as we’re chasing all these things is this – “Where is your treasure?  What is it that you value the most?”

You need to realize that whatever your “It” is in your life, if you achieve it, you will eventually lose it.  We all will.

We chase life.  We chase false gods.  We look to things that are dying to provide us life.  We blow up “balloons” of money, sex, status, reputation, attention, of being noticed, of being considered weighty, of being revered as brilliant in our profession.  Anything that will seemingly fill our life and make us feel complete.  We chase “It” believing “It” will provide life.  It won’t.  These balloons are blown up to make our life appear abundant and full and meaningful.

balloons

The harsh reality is this – these balloons we blow up will never last.  They, like us, will eventually die.  No one ever achieves completion in these things.  Sex will, eventually, fade away.  Power is eventually taken away – no human ever rules forever.  Your reputation will pass.  Entertainment is fleeting – times are great and parties are fun but eventually, we go back to work and reality.  Your appearance?  Your cross fit body?  Well, you know what is coming for that.  If anything, you spend your time now trying to reverse the effects of aging.

How much money is truly “enough”?  How much reputation will it take for you to be satisfied?  Sex is great but why is it that it always leaves you wanting more?  Does the act itself ever finally satiate your desire?  Can you ever get enough respect?  There are always going to be some people who don’t think you’re so great. 

Is any of it ever enough?

 

Eventually, this is what is coming for these balloons…

popping balloon

Perhaps I have your attention now.  Clear eyes on this.  It is all going away.  Where are you placing your hope?  What is the fuel for your life?  Is it the things of this world or is it the King of kings?

We’ve all got a choice today.  Will I live today with open arms or will I continue to clutch on to the things of this world (see the next post on “amazon Jesus”) ?

And hey, I get it.  I’m talking about death and in your face a bit with some of this.  You just want me to lighten up.  This is probably why preachers don’t preach about death very often.  It isn’t popular.  This is in my face too and this scripture below puts a razor focus on it.  Don’t take it from me.  Hear the Word of the LORD…

“If serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourself whom you will serve.”  Joshua 24:15

Because … face it … you are either serving the LORD or you are serving these balloons, filling them up with more and more vapor trusting that they will bring you life.  They won’t.

we need to wake up to the reality…

I need to realize that I am going to lose everything I love in this world.  I’m not taking any of this with me.  Believe me, I love this life – love my work, the building and creating we can enjoy and I love the outdoors and the memories created chasing deer.  But none of it goes with me.

You can keep going and keep chasing “life” in this world.  More adventure, more comfort, more stuff, bigger TVs, nicer cars, more fulfillment, more satisfaction.  Chase all you want, you’re never going to be satisfied.  You never get “there”.  You can have all the sex you ever imagined and it’ll never be enough.  You can have all the money you ever thought you’d need and you’d quickly find out, you want more.  It is always the quest for more, more, more.

For me, personally, this season has been a wake up call of realizing that death is coming and I’m convicted by just how much I am in love with the things of this world.  It is why we are talking about all this this fall at Manschool.  Last week rattled some folks.  Next week, there will be more rattling.  God is shaking us (me).  He’s trying to wake us up. Where is your treasure?  What is it that you value most?  Is it God or is it stuff?  Is it that you be noticed, admired or appreciated?  Is it your reputation?  Or that you will be thought of as brilliant in your profession?  What is it that you are after?

You need to realize that whatever “it” is in your life, if you achieve it, you will lose it.

A radical awareness that all of us are in the process of dying is actually quite healthy spiritually.  Once I realize, once I come to truly know that I am going to lose everything, only then can I turn towards placing all my hope in my inheritance in the Kingdom.

But if I keep hanging onto the “hope” of what I can hold onto here, I will never look to Heaven.  I will keep chasing the false illusion that “enough” can be obtained here.  Even if I accomplish all my wildest dreams and accumulate every toy I ever dreamed of, death is going to steal it all away.  Once I get that and embrace that, then I can turn my eyes towards the LORD and His Kingdom to come.

Jud Bergman was a great athlete growing up.  He was smart, athletic and attractive with many gifts and abilities.  His wife was a beautiful, brilliant writer.  They were devout in their faith.  The LORD blessed them with many things. Jud founded and created the investment technology firm Envestnet.  He was quite successful.  His first wife died of brain cancer and eventually, he remarried.  Another beautiful, charmed lady.  They had “it all” and seven children between them.

We need to wake up to the reality of what is coming for all of us.  

 

jud bergman

watch this video.  Fast forward to 26:44 minutes in.

https://menlo.church/series/the-way#/modal/message/5559/mlo

you never know when

There was so much content this morning, I will break this into parts.  Here are the slides from this morning > Clear eyes 5 – you never know

We will never know “when” it will happen but there is absolute clarity about “If” it will happen.  It will, for every one of us.  We will all die.  I am now 55 years old and there is no doubt that I am certainly past middle-aged.  The rest of my life will be shorter than the life I have lived.

Time is running out for me and it is running out for you.  Clear eyes about this, men, the end is coming.  The call or question or quest for all of us is this = how will we live out the rest of our days?  Will it be for my kingdom or God’s?

Our days are short.  None of us are promised tomorrow.  I don’t want to be the kind of man of puts off having a prayer life or puts off reading the Bible figuring I have a lot of time later in life for that because, you know, I’m just so busy at work building my kingdom.  I don’t want to be the kind of man who waits for that day because that day might not ever get here for me.

Sometimes, Christians are the worst at denying death.  The Journal of American Medical Association reports that people of faith (95% of whom were Christians) were 3x more likely to choose aggressive medical treatment at the end of their lives … even though, they knew that they were dying and that the treatments were unlikely to prolong their lives.

Why is that?  Why is it that we believers are doing whatever we can to postpone death?

Do we really believe what is on the other side of death?  What is we are trying to preserve?  Life?  It can’t be preserved.  This world?  Really?  We want to preserve our time here because we can’t trust or don’t understand what Heaven will be like?  More on that when we get to the full hearts part of this.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not earthy things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”  Colossians 3:1-3

Your life is worth living precisely because it is not your life at all.  Your life – at least in the mortal frame – has a beginning and an end.  But your life – your real life – is hidden with or entrusted with Christ.  That then gives you the freedom to lose your life in sacrifice to others, in obedience to God, in order to save it.

Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us.  We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.  We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”  2 Corinthians 4:7-10

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.”  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Why are we talking about this?  What is our goal? 

  • Getting to the place where we are absolutely grounded in the Word and in Truth. 
  • Passionate about our love for Christ. 
  • Devout in our service to others, pouring ourselves out without demand for a return or a payback. 
  • Where I don’t fear death. 

It is living Excurvatus Ex Se – outward, for others.  That man has true freedom.  That man experiences authentic manhood. 

That man can LiveUP with clear eyes and full heart.  That man can’t lose.

I think the point of this message is this – you need to realize and accept that you are going to lose everything you love in this world.  Only then can you place all your hope in an inheritance kept in heaven for you.  If I keep hanging on the “hope” of what I can hold onto here, I will never look to Heaven.  Even if life plays out precisely the way you imagine for yourself in your wildest dreams, death will steal away everything you have and destroy everything you accomplish.

I spend my time thinking about things that will ultimately, go away.  It is time to shift my focus to the promise of my inheritance in the Kingdom.  To the eternal.  To what will last.  By avoiding the truth about death, we’re avoiding the truth about Jesus.  Jesus didn’t promise us so many of the things we want most out of life.  He promised us victory over death.