help a Veteran, grab a chainsaw

The Torres Family needs our help and prayers.  Their property in Ellerslie Place was an impact point for the tornado that came through.

We will have folks out there this Saturday to serve but if you or somebody you know can come for even an hour or two to help it would be greatly appreciated.  Ken Himes will also be out there this Friday around noon if you want to help on Friday.

We have people running chainsaws and need other folks to pull limbs away as they are cut and drag and stack them in burn piles.

Gloves and boots and long sleeves are encouraged.  Please prayerfully consider sharing this with folks you know who might help us help them.

Cesar Torres is an Iraqi War Veteran and had to leave yesterday to lead some training at Ft. Hood, TX.  His wife (Alba) and teenage son (Joel) are here without him and we promised him we’d stand in the gap and stay with them until we got their property squared away.


Take US 27 (Manchester Expressway) to Ellerslie and then 315 toward Talbotton (First light after 4 lanes become 2 lanes).  About a mile up on the left is Ellerslie Place – take the second entrance

Take a left on Ossahatchie and go up past the mailbox marked as 1352 Ossahatchie turn left just past that (The street sign is missing).

Go down a block and the next left is Bent Tree Drive and the house is on the left. #104 Bent Tree Drive.  The Torres Family.

We start at 9:00 on Saturday. Come when you can leave when you have to.

are you in a battle right now?

Are you in a battle of any kind?

Is there a mountain in front of you that you have no idea how you’re going to get past?

Is your marriage in trouble?

Do you lay awake in bed at night worried?

What are you fearful of?

Respond below.  Write it down – not the issue itself – but rather, what it is you’re feeling.  Are you feeling God or is He nowhere to be found?  What are you doubting?  Is there hopelessness, despair, lostness?  Describe it.

Your answers will remain anonymous and won’t be posted on this site.  I’m gathering these answers for future reference in our discussion of DIRT.

remember the mercies

Each day will have its own troubles.

God’s mercies are new every morning.

John Piper said those two verses have been a core part of his daily faith for decades.  He reminds himself of them both, daily.  Why?  Because as we’ve discussed, the storms will come.  When they do, it helps to remember God told us the troubles would be coming.

Likewise, it is a blessing to know HIS mercies are coming each day.  We need to remember that because it is so easy to forget in the madness of this frenetic world.  You can be so busy, so perplexed, so hard pressed on every side … that … you forget HIS mercies are coming to you today.  Look for them.

Beau Hughes got this devotional this morning after Manschool.  See how it fits in with what we worked through today …

We lose the Story every day.  It is continually being stolen from us by the Evil One – the ultimate deconstructionist.  He twists and spins and pulls apart the Truth until the fragments we have left are unrecognizable,  Or we lose it ourselves in the marketplace of Vanity Fair.  Bombarded by thousands of messages each day, every one of them marked urgent, we leave behind the truly important things, the only refuge for our heart.

The reality that on every single morning brand-new mercies greet us is not the things that grip our minds as we frenetically prepare for our day.  But it should.  When the alarm goes off in the morning, don’t reach for your phone to see the emails waiting — instead — lay there and say, “FATHER. (breathe that word out) FATHER… What is it YOU have for me today?  Show me Your mercies.  Bless me.  Grant me favor today.  Show me who I can minister to today.  Restore me and let me feel the favor of being YOUR beloved son.”  Then get out of bed!

Step into today looking for God’s mercies and then, most importantly, don’t forget them.  The mercies come but you’ve got to be open to receiving them.  Helen Keller said this…

Every day, God tries to put things in our hands but they are clinched so tight, we can’t receive them.


it is well. look for the mercies today…

Let this song wash over you.  Storms will come, mountains of impossibility will rise up in front of you … even still, it is well with my soul.

I can make no sense of the recent tornado that ravaged our region.  I can make no sense of this picture of a 23-year old girl and her 18-month old child (Way too close to home – we have a 23-year old daughter with an 18-month old child whose house was hit by the storm) looking at this girl’s destroyed home knowing she just lost her husband…

How can we make sense of it?  We want to shout, “Meaningless!”  Those seemingly meaningless events are going to happen to you.  Even though they will come, it is well with my soul.  Say that to yourself.  PREACH it over you and your home.  Remind yourself that while each day has enough trouble of its own, HIS mercies are new every morning.

They are.  Truly.   But, you’ve got to look for them.  Craziness is coming at you today.  This world is frenzied in its pace.  Faster isn’t fast enough.  You’ve got to move even faster than you are just to keep up.  The world’s goal and the enemies is to convince you that you MUST keep up or you’ll be left behind.

It’s a lie.

Your soul is not meant to run at the pace you’re running.  It’s insanity.  So, you’ve got a choice to make.  Will you step off the crazy train and reorient your soul to the Father?  Perhaps your only chance today will be in your car for 7-8 minutes between meetings or on the way to the soccer field or on your drive home to stop, rest, disconnect from the madness and connect to the Vine that feeds your branch.

IT IS WELL.  Play that song today.  Let it wash over you.  Be healed.  Be restored.

Challenge – starting today, if you have a journal, put a page in there entitled, “Today’s mercies” and write down when a mercy comes your way.  If you don’t have a journal, pull out notepad and use that!  Mercies?  It can be a compliment, the laughter of a child, the sunset tonight, a break in a tense situation, a turn in the environment at work or home, the chance to pickup limbs at a neighbors house.  Find the mercies God gives you.  WRITE THEM DOWN.

Next week, I’ll ask you to share the mercies the Father poured out on you in the midst of your storm.

He is in the storms that will come

Here is the devotional from New Morning Mercies > Scan0009

“The men found themselves in an impossible, exhausting, frustrating and potentially dangerous situation.” 

So many of our men have been in – or – are presently now – in just such a circumstance.  Storms come in life and many of us are in them right now.  And as this text says, these storms are beyond our strength and ability.

Why would Jesus ever want His disciples to be in this kind of situation?  Why would Jesus ever want you to go through the storm you are presently going through?  Have you ever asked, “WHY?”.  I have.

As we’ve discussed many times, nowhere in scripture are we promised that our life would be constantly blessed, without challenge, without pain or without challenge.

Nowhere in scripture are we promised a pain free, perfect life.  We are promised storms will come – we live in a fallen and broken world and we are promised that He will never leave nor forsake us.

In this story, we see that Jesus could have “fixed” this easily – from the shore, He could have just called out for the seas to calm to help his friends.  But … He didn’t.  He walked out into the storm to meet His friends there in the midst of it.  He wasn’t after the storm, He was after the men.  The storms will come in your life, Jesus will come after you in them.

Why did Jesus send them into the storm?  Why does He send you into your storm?  Said another way, why didn’t He stop the storm that came upon you?  Why didn’t He stop the affair, the cancer, the attack, the pregnancy, the failure?  He saw it coming – He is God after all – why didn’t He stop it?

Because, sometimes we need the storm to be able to see the glory.  Sometimes, you need to be knocked off your high horse to wake you up enough to just how far off base you’ve gotten.  Sometimes you need a crash to realize that your life has become all about the pursuit of your kingdom.  Sometimes you need a good healthy face full of DIRT so God can knock off the rough edges that have formed around your faith and so that you can experience His glory through the redemption.

Jesus walked out onto the water to be with His friends during their fear-laced, “there is no way we’re gonna make out of this” moment.  He was right there with them.  He is right there with you in yours.

Don’t ask Him “why?”

Ask Him “what?  what is it Lord you’re trying to break in me, show me, sanctify in me, purify out of me?  what is it Lord that I have made an idol?  what is it that has my supreme affection/attention/devotion that should be Yours?”

read the attached text.  John Piper’s full sermon is below.  We started today at 49:55 minutes in…

who is this Jesus?

hang on, I’m gonna challenge you with this one …

Who is this Jesus that you love?  Stop.  Pause.  Listen.  Let that soak over you.  Do you … really … love … Jesus?  Why?  Is it hard for you to think about “loving” Jesus?  Why is that?  Is He the Sunday School Jesus you grew up reading about.  The man in a white robe, carrying a lamb, gentle, meek & mild. Is that the Jesus you think of?  Or… is He the rule keeper, always disappointed in you, always thinking you’re not enough?  Or… is He very, very distant, far off, removed from you and your emotions?  Who is the Jesus a man like me loves?

Deeper question still —–> why do you love Jesus?  I mean seriously.  What has Jesus done for you?  Do you even know or even remember?

I struggle with this.  I have forgotten the passion of my initial conversion.  I’ve forgotten about the radical transformation that occurred in my heart when I accepted Jesus.

And, it is way more than “accepting Jesus”.  That’s a transaction, a “one and done”.  That’s a ticket.  A secret formula.  A secret code to insure my eternity.  That’s 400 kids “accepting Jesus” at a summer youth retreat.  Then what?  Sadly, many of us today “accepted” Jesus many moons ago and we’ve drifted into the suburban lifestyle of comfort and convenience and justifying our life saying, “Oh Jesus would want me to be happy”.

Jesus didn’t say, “accept me as your Lord and Savior”.  His call was never seeing how many people He could get to come down front to make a profession of faith.  Jesus said, LIVE like me.  FOLLOW me.”

And here is the rub, are you living like Jesus?  Is He about the process of sanctifying you?  Are you vastly different today than you were five years ago?  Are you radically more aware of your brokenness and desperation for Him?  Do you live days thinking “there is no way I could do any of this without the sustaining fuel of my Lord.”  Is He your fuel?

Which kingdom are you serving today?  Yours or His?

Have you surrendered?

Hands turned upward saying “thy will be done”?

stay near the Fire…

slides from this morning … manschool 2019 5

Two key themes have been our focus this year – first, the question of “which kingdom will I serve?” and second, this theme of “dirt” … when you get knocked off your high horse of self reliance which we’re learning is a side effect of how you answer the first question.  We can’t see it at the time.  We drift.  We don’t read the Word.  We don’t immerse in it.  We rely on self.  We rely on being a man that can conquer mountains and handle any challenge we face.  It’s gradual.  Doesn’t happen overnight – thus why I say it is a “drift”.

If my reliance, my daily bread, my sustaining is coming from God – truly – then I won’t turn to those false gods of self, success, money, sex, porn, greed, power, reputation.  If you are aligned with God, being fed by Him, sustained by Him, you will push those things away – you won’t need money, success, power or reputation.  They are fleeting.  Only God is permanent.  You don’t “need” sex.  You certainly don’t need to escape into porn.  You have come to believe a lie.  You believe those things are your right and you’ve justified your sex drive as an excuse for _________.  But the Liar we face is crafty, skilled and persistent.  He’s trying to lead you away from the Fire.  He loves “self-reliance”.  He loves the “Type-A, driven, powerful man”.  Yes, yes, yes, he will lead you right down that path of being “all that” and of being the kind of man women turn to for strength.  Dangerous.  Slippery slope.  Tragedy awaits in the hook of the Liar.

As we read this morning…

Camp out in God’s Word – not the world.  Literally pitch your tent in God’s Word.  Camp.  Build a fire.  Pitch your tent near the fire.  Don’t wander off.

There is danger in the woods (world).  You can leave the camp – move from the fire and you can survive.  Wandering down a dark path.  Danger lurks.  Its dark and cold.  You turn back to the fire.  What do you do when you find you way back to that fire – to the warmth and the safety?  You worship! 

(Eugene Peterson A Long Obedience in the Same Direction)

But we are a stubborn bunch.  We want to travel north and yet all the roads are cut to the east.  Do we take the well worn path?  No.  We complain of the roads going in a direction we don’t want to travel.  Pushing forward “our way”, we find nothing but obstacles, walls and rivers and as we repeatedly fail trying to make it on our own path apart from God.  We pursue “our right” to happiness but we refuse to take that well-traveled road that leads there.

It’s like God himself is having this conversation with His angels …

They are trying to get to Mount Zion but ignore all the signposts and compass readings and stubbornly avoid the trails as they bushwhack their way through wilderness.  “Do you not see that they necessarily must meet with thwartings, crossings, disappointments, and failure?”  They go mile after mile, watching for their destination but never sighting it.

“And then they accuse religion of interfering with what they consider their innocent pleasures and wishes.” 

But religion is an inconvenience only to those who are traveling against the grain of creation, at cross-purposes with the way that leads to redemption.

John Henry Newman

As we rely upon self, we are traveling against the grain of creation.  We bushwhack our way through wilderness in stubborn refusal to submit.  And it’s as if God is saying, “Don’t you see?  Don’t you see why I must thwart them?  Why they must meet with some tough crossings, disappointments and failures?”  In other words, while God may not “cause” these “dirt” moments, He also doesn’t prevent them.  Some of them are choices and consequences of our own making and sometimes, the only way to learn in life is to suffer the consequences of our disobedience.  Other times, seemingly innocent people suffer.  We are so tempted to ask, “How could a good God let ______ happen?”  We live in a fallen, broken world populated with deeply broken people.  Accidents happen.  Evil happens.  Cancer happens.  None of us are promised an easy, pain-free life.

If I am serving “my” kingdom, I can make NO sense of cancer.  No sense of losing my job.  No sense of a rebellious child.  But, if I am serving HIS Kingdom, I can.  “His will be done”God may never answer the “why” this happened.  But He is in the “what”.  What now LORD?  What is it You are doing in this?  What is it I need to be taught?  What is the self-reliance that got me into this?  He will answer those given enough time and enough surrender on your part.

And do you see why?  You’re taking those questions to the Father.  “What is it Father?  Show me.”  It is surrender.  It is letting go of “my way”, letting go of “my kingdom”, letting go of “I am man enough to win at a life on my own”It’s DIRT.  You’re down in the dirt and you’re surrendering to the Father and asking “what?” and it’s beautiful.

Men, listen to me.  I cannot possibly know what all you’re going through but I do know some of it.  One of our fellow tribe members lost his job an hour after manschool this morning.  Health issues.  Marriages are on the brink.  Children gone off range.  We’ve lost family members.  Our business is sinking.  We got laid off.  She left for another man.  Porn addiction has been uncovered.  I don’t know what storm you’re going through but I do know this, God may not have caused it but I can assure you, He is in it.  He will not abandon you – even if in your self-reliance, you turned your back on Him.  He wants you to come home.  He wants you to be sustained day by day by His Word.

He wants you to stay by the fire.

Be a man in God’s Word this week …Read 2 Corinthians 4 this week a few times.  Read Lamentations 3 this week … a few times!  “Hope through God’s Mercy”.  Pay special attention to 3:22-29.  Dirt is all over Lamentations 3.