signs…

here are the slides from this morning > Which Kingdom 8 – agreements

My questions for you to ponder are in orange below…

Craig McConnell shared the story of seeing a young lab on the beach running, reckless, without abandon, chasing birds down the beach, wanting to play.  Whatever God intended a lab to be, he was it, he was living, he was free.  The signs say, “No dogs on the beach”.  The great thing about a lab is they can’t read the signs.  His romp on the beach was criminal, innocent, pure – he was being exactly who God intended him to be – no restraints.

He was being “exactly who God intended him to be… no restraints, free, living, playing”.  Do you see that?  Can you?  WAKE UP!  Are you being the “lab” God designed you to be?  Are you alive?  Playful?  Living with abundance?  Unconcerned what others think, ignorant of the signs that tell you the things you “can’t” do?

There are a lot of signs around us – “You can’t do this”, “You’ll never be that”, “Who… you?”  The wounds you have suffered and the messages they bring and then the vows you make are the signs – “You can’t do that.  You can’t be that.”

The wounds become the script for your life and become your identity.

What has been spoken over you in your life?  What did your father or brother or mother or coach or boss tell you about you?  What have you been told you can never become?  Likewise, what negatives have been spoken over you as in “You will always be a screw-up or failure or …”?

Craig’s stepfather called him a seagull.  Saying, “all you’re good for is sitting, squawking and shitting”.  As a result, over time, I had become a seagull.  Nothing to offer, nothing to say, absolutely nothing to give.  I’d preach/teach and always say to myself afterwards, “ugghh, that sucked”.  Shame and contempt would come that I’m never going to be a man that makes a difference or says anything that changes or encourages another person.”   That was my script.

To some degree, you’ve been told who you are through the wounds – father, mother, coach, brother, boss, wife – the signs are there. You’ve been told what you can or cannot be.  That’s clear.

Like Craig, what are the phrases that constantly come up in your mind to describe yourself?  As in … “I’ll never be a _________” – or – “I will always fail” – or – “No one will ever come through for me” – or – “I don’t matter”.

But what most of us don’t know is what God thinks about us.  We’ve been told what others think and its dominated and even governed our lives but what does God think about you?

Ephesians – before the creation of the world, God had you in mind.

Psalm 139 – You created my inmost being. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. My frame was not hidden from you when I was woven together.

God tells us that He uniquely created and crafted each one of us. Each with our own different blend of talents, personalities, bends, talents, interests. God had something in mind when He created you in some unique and personal way.

Revelation 2:19 – “For those who overcome there will be a day where we’ll be given a white stone with a new name on it – known only to us and God”

A name that describes who God intended you to be. Descriptive and true.  Capturing the very essence and core of who you are as a person.  He had something in mind when He created you.

GK Chesterton – “all of us suffer from the same dilemma, we’ve forgotten who we are”.

It seems easy to remember and what seems to be the most governing thing in our lives is what others have said we are.  Most of us have forgotten who God says we are.  What He’s made us.  Who He’s called us to be.

Do you remember who you are?  Or have you forgotten?  Have you ever known who you are?  Have you ever asked Him?

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notes from today

What a blessing it was to have Keith Cowart share his message with us.  It was an important word for us to hear and it continues to drive at this same theme we’ve been pursing all fall of “Which Kingdom Will I Serve?”

We all come from broken homes and dysfunctional family structures and now, perhaps, the family we are responsible for is, itself, dysfunctional.  The cure comes in knowing our stories, understanding the patterns of behavior we choose, and understanding what is beneath the pain.  Do we have a “herd mentality” or a “blame displacement mentality” or do we always seek the “quick fix”?

There is a reason underneath these paths.  We’ll be talking more about this in coming weeks.

Here are Keith’s notes from this morning… Man School Failure of Nerve

agreements

here are the slides from this morning > Which Kingdom 7 – transparency and agreements

As we’ve discussed all fall, life can be pretty hard on us – we had broken parents who hurt us deeply or siblings that left lasting impacts on us, broken marriages, failures in business, addictions, etc.  We turn to money or things or porn or booze to medicate our pain.  We’ve discussed that in great detail.

But something else happens out of all of this – we form agreements with the lies.  The enemy shows up in your battle and tries to convince you that your failures are you.  “You’ll always be a ____”.  

Eventually, after enough convincing, we agree with the enemy and form an agreement with his lies.  “You know, I will always be a ______”.

Relationships which had been good, break for some reason and we say, “Yep, you see, there it is.  I cannot sustain meaningful relationships”.  Or perhaps we were betrayed by a parent or a coach or an old girlfriend way back when and when a current relationship breaks, you tell yourself, “You see, I can’t ever trust anyone”.

I can’t attach the clip from this morning because it is from a paid subscription at Ransomed Heart but in that clip, we saw those four guys unpacking how agreements formed in their lives and how they still surface today.  What you also saw is how they have learned to identify them and break them down before they take root as “truth”.  In part, they do that because those were four guys who knew each others stories inside/out and were willing to probe and listen and do the heavy lifting of fighting for one another.

What is coming this fall at manschool is the plead, the push, the encouragement for you to form your own tribe like we saw displayed this morning – that group of 2-3 other men you can go deep into life with.  Your own “Fight Club”.  More on that later but it rings true to a core belief of our LiveUP Tribe … that if a man tries to do this life alone, he’s going to get taken out.  I don’t believe you can do it alone.  Form a group and fight for one another.  The rewards of this are immense.

here is a transcript of the key things they said …

Morgan – I have a very poor filter of what battles to take on and what to pass up.  I’m very scared to ask God, “Is this battle for me?”  It feels noble to just take it on.  It takes far more courage to ask God and be willing to say “no” to others.

You see a need you can meet, and your good heart can get you in trouble.  That lure is strong to help meet the needs of others, but it can come at a great cost.  What is it in me that is unwilling to take the question to God and to be unwilling to not come through for someone?

I have to break a pretty deep agreement of “I am loved if I achieve” – striving gives me some false life, false validation that feels something like the Kingdom of God – but – it doesn’t last, it doesn’t work, and it doesn’t bring the fruit.

Craig – Do I orchestrate this, or do I let God?  I have a battle to trust God.  It goes to an agreement.  The old wound shows up of being a seagull and this agreement forms of, “I don’t have anything to say, anything of worth, anything to add” – that God gives me lots of stuff but the way I view it that it is all just wasted on me.  The talents are wasted on me.

Bart – temptation.  Enemy comes in this agreement of, “that’s what you are.  You have nothing to offer.  You are totally disqualified.”

Warfare, yes.  But there is repentance in there I need to offer up.  I must make a choice.  I committed a sin and I need to repent.

Morgan on his brother’s illness – numbness, anger, discouragement, hope, profound sense of sadness – you lose the ability to BS in that kind of environment.

The healing we wanted didn’t come and yet, God has been bringing so many miracles through this situation – not the miracle we asked for, but the miracles we needed of restoration of relationship, of authenticity, more of the Kingdom coming from a network of people.

In the suffering, it is God, or it is understanding – but you don’t get both.  Something deep in my heart is choosing God.  While I profoundly sad and angry, I feel like I am staying true “I am choosing God. I choose to walk in integrity and strength and receive the miracles He is bringing”.

I must break the agreement of “I have to come through”.  How I’ve walked this situation is vastly different of how I walked my wife’s illness three years ago.  Back then, I was the hero, Superman.  “I must come through.  I am her husband, her counselor, her psychiatrist, her girlfriend, her father” … and I suck at all of those things other than being a marginal husband.  And I decided to let go and I literally collapsed on the ground and God began to father me – that began the fathering process – and in that, I took the superman cape off and I burned it in the spiritual realm and said, “I am done with that story, I’m going to just be her husband and trust God to come through in all these other roles for her”.  It took courage to say, “I’m not going to be her savior”.

Now, with my brother, I offer in strength, offer in being present.  Then, I release them, I bless them, and I bring the Cross of Christ between myself and their battles and I let it go.  It’s the same suffering but a very different experience for me in not carrying it.

Do you see it?  Do you see how the old wounds, the old lies weave their way into each of these men’s stories?  Do you see how the agreements resurface?  But more importantly, do you see how adept they’ve become at identifying the agreements and deconstructing them?  For some of you, this is brand new material, a brand new concept.  Welcome to a deeper layer of the battle you face!  This example this morning hopefully gave you a picture of what agreements are like and how you can combat them.  Again, you’re far better to do this with a close-knit band of brothers helping!

the chain of our past

Here are the slides from last week > Which Kingdom 6 – the chain of your past

Here is the video of Louie Giglio speaking on the chains of our past >

The whole talk is good but we showed a clip starting at 37:38 minutes in until the end at 49 minutes.  So, it’s 12 minutes long and I encourage you to watch it again.

Why do we pose?  Why do we put on this facade that we have life all figured out?  I think, because deep down, many of us don’t like ourselves very much.  We’re not good enough, smart enough, strong enough, man enough, successful enough, powerful enough, we don’t have enough money … we’re simply not “enough”.  And then, there are the mistakes of the past – the affair, the broken marriage, the addictions, the failures and the enemy seizes upon all of this with lies and we’ve believe the Liar.  And… we make agreements with those lies.  From all of that, we simply don’t like ourselves anymore.  That’s a huge chain of that past that Jesus came to set you free from.

The way to move away from the chain of your past is to use our past as fuel to defeat the enemy’s works in our life and in the lives of others.

God takes what the enemy uses against us and He turns it around and uses it against Satan.  God takes what the enemy uses and turns it around – but – He will only do that if you will let him.

I believe you can only be truly free of your past if you will use it and not hide it.  The enemy hates transparency and authenticity.  He loves for you to pretend, pose and fake.  Bring your pain/failure into the light.  Expose it to other people.  Don’t hide it.  Bring that box of shame up out of your basement where you’ve hidden it all these years.  Don’t give the enemy a foothold to beat you down with the things you hide.

There is a lot in your past that God wants to use and in using it, you’re actually going to experience freedom from it.  Because you’ll now be on top of it instead of it being on top of you.

Instead of judging me and condemning me for the past, He is calling me into the future.

I don’t like my past, but I am going to take it and use it to bring freedom to someone else who is in the same hell that I was in.  Being open about your past gives you a platform and a purpose.  God can take your mess and turn it into a miracle but you can’t hide the mess.  You’ve got to own it, share it and help others be free from it.  Will you?

you build what you love…

here are the slides from today > Which Kingdom 5 – build what you love

here is Erwin McManus’ talk on “you build what you love” – the video clip I showed started at 8:10 and ended at 20:33  >

This 12 minutes goes right at the core question of this fall and that is, Which Kingdom will I serve?  A good friend asked me what has become a poignant question a while back of “where is this abundant life Jesus talked about?”  Yes!  Amen!  Thanks for asking it.  We all need to ask it?  Where is it?

As McManus subtly points out, the answer can be found in what you believe to be abundance.  Where is it?  Where are you looking for it?  Are you looking for affirmation?  Acceptance?  An abundant sex life?  An abundant bank account?  A bigger home, nicer car and extravagant vacations?  Is abundance children who cause no problems, excel in the classroom and on the ball field, get great jobs and marry well?

If this is the abundance you seek, you’re not going to find lasting abundance in any of it.  You’re looking in the wrong place and you’re answering the ultimate question of “Which kingdom will I serve?”

McManus doesn’t talk specifically about all that but it is the subtle undercurrent.  He says the following…

Some of us love things more than we love people.  So, we spend more time with the things than the people closest to us.  You are creating a life through the choices you are making.

David forgot what made him famous and was instead, just focused on his fame.

We go looking for advice/counsel and if we don’t like what we hear, we go ask someone else.  We’ll keep asking until someone finally agrees with us!  You’re not looking for advice, you’re looking for agreement.

A lot of the decisions and choices we make look so superficial when in reality, they have deep substance to them.  The consequences of our choices don’t just affect the person making the choice.

The relationships in your life are the material with which you will build what you love.  If you have no relationships, if it is all about you, you will build by yourself for yourself.  (which kingdom?)

God had given you the incredible ability to impact others for better or worse.  David’s choices impacted an entire kingdom.  Many of us want more influence but we don’t more responsibility.  But, that’s not how God does it.  For every person in my life, I am accountable for my effect and impact on their life.  This is not what we want – we want to pretend that our choices and decisions are isolated and disconnected from everyone else.

People with addictions, before they own their addictions, what you hear them saying is “my choices aren’t hurting anyone but myself”.  The problem is, that is never true.  You’re actually hurting the person you’re saying it to.  You’re wanting to deny the impact of your choices, but you never make an isolated decision.  Everything you do, impacts someone else.

David was not trustworthy with the relationships he’d been entrusted with and there was a consequence to his choices.

Question – for the people in your life, is it safe for them to live in the universe of your love?  Is it safe for them to care about you?

The contra of all this is also true – that if I am broken and they love me that it can actually make me a better person.  You see, out of your life, you can pour into someone else hope, pour into them compassion, pour into them forgiveness and pour into them meaning.  (you cannot do this if you’re curved inward on yourself.  you can only do this is you’re living Excurvatus – outwardly, for others)

Key Question – Who do you love enough to change for? 

Many times, we don’t find the strength to change because we don’t love anyone more than we love ourselves.  Make the decision to love your wife more than you love yourself – to love your children more than you love yourself.  It will change the trajectory of your life.

When people are only in love with themselves, they make the most destructive choices.  But when someone loves another person more, it changes the way they choose.

Who do you love enough to change for?  What needs to change?

 

living on the edge

here are the slides from this morning >> Which Kingdom 4 – living on the Edge

Here is Andy Stanley’s talk we watched >> http://justaskit.org/edged-out

you can find this entire sermon series at justaskit.org 

Isn’t it true, when tempted, that you have self-conversations where you talk yourself into it?  Our greatest regrets?  We were there before, during and after.

We start “thinking ourselves” into a dumb decision.

“There’s nothing wrong with.  Nothing wrong with.  Nothing wrong with…” and we talk ourselves right up to the line/edge – we excuse it, excuse it, excuse it.

We all do this – it is a bad idea to assume that if something is not “wrong”, then it’s right.  If there is nothing wrong with it, in general, then it is right for me.  That’s a bad idea.  As a believer, I am commanded to live above merely right and wrong.  You can get into a lot of trouble doing things that are just not “wrong”.

Bad moral decisions are generally preceded by a series of unwise decisions.

There’s nothing wrong with…

            Having lunch with her – “after all, we all work together”

            Having dinner with her – “we all worked late”

            Just she and I working late together

            Confiding in her – “you know, my marriage isn’t going so great”

            Listening to her

            Dropping by her place

            A hug

If a friend saw this pattern developing, he’d sense a series of unwise decisions moving in an unhealthy direction.

The truth is, in this area, we will lie to ourselves long before we start lying to others.  And, I will have a hard time admitting what anyone on the outside can see happening.

We move closer to the edge, closer to the edge and someone calls us out on it and we say, “hey, I’m fine” … closer to the edge, closer to the edge.

Living on the edge is fine if you’re counting calories but it is unwise in this area.  With moral things and expressions of sexuality, there are certain lines that if you cross, will create extraordinary regret and extraordinary complexity.

If there is a God that knows you, created you, cares for you and has a future planned for you, what would you expect God to say on this subject?  Go for it?  Walk the line?  No, we’d expect Him to say what any parent would say to his 17-year old son = “Not so close”

Paul told the church in Corinth (which was a pagan town, very secular) to “Flee from sexual immorality” 1 Corinthinans 6:18.  Don’t flirt with it.  Don’t see how close you can get to it.  No, flee.  Run.  Get as far away from it as possible.  It’s what you’d want your wife to do.  What any Dad wants his children to do.  What any 17-year old boy wants his 13-year old sister to do.

We all know this is right for those that we love – but – sometimes, we’re not so sure it is right for us.

“Flee from sexual immorality, all other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.”

Sexual sin is like no other sin – there’s nothing like it.  When someone walks into his office with extraordinary regret and complex things they’re trying to walk through, 90% of the time, there is something sexual involved.  People move on from all kinds of things but things sexual just seem to stick around.  Part of it is that we live in a culture that believes sex is just a physical act and then we realize, “I don’t think this is just physical, it effected my soul, my heart and my conscious and it effected how I view other women”.

—– ACTIONABLE ADVICE —–

The issue with sexual sin isn’t forgiveness – God forgives – the issue is consequences – which includes the damage done to you and your soul and the damage done to those closest to you.  We don’t think about it in the moment.  We progress down that sequence of events, we confided in one another, emotional bonds are formed and, like lighting a forest on fire, the situation rapidly gets out of control.  No, you don’t see it in the moment – in the moment it just feels “right” and you’ve found your “soul mate” (a lie) and it’s too late.  But…can’t you see?  Don’t you see how dangerous this is?  You can stop this before the forest catches on fire.  You stop it by fleeing.  When tempted, flee.  Don’t kid yourself and take the next “innocent” step.  Run … the other way.  Confess it.  Wall her off.  Tell your wife – you want to talk about a great way to kill this temptation off?  Tell you wife!  Bring it into the light.  Hide nothing.  And make it perfectly clear to this other woman, “nope, not going to happen, this ends now, you need to find a counselor”.  And then, perhaps most importantly, be brave enough to examine your sin.  “How did I get here?” — “What is it in me that needs this outside validation?” — “Which kingdom am I serving – my needs, my wants, my lust, my desire to be adored/valued — or — am I going to serve the Kingdom of God?”

a proverbs a day, keeps the world away…

You’re either going to lean into God — or — you’ll lean into the world.

You’re either going to listen to the Word of God — or — you will be listening to the message of this world.  And, you know, the message of this world is coming at you faster than ever today and the message today is more destructive than ever.

So, you’ve got a choice.  Which kingdom will you serve?  Which message are you going to listen to?

There are 31 days in most months.  There are 31 Proverbs.  Here is a pearl of wisdom from today’s Proverb that ties in EXACTLY with what we heard at manschool this morning… “A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD.”

If you’ve never been a Bible reader, now’s your chance to do a 180 and get into the Word.  The enemy loves to whisper to you “that Bible-reading stuff isn’t for you”.  Negate that lie.  End it … today!  Today, you can change the course of your life and end this lie by reading a Proverb a day.

In so doing, you’re blocking out time to listen to wisdom, to listen to the Word of God and to invite conversation with the Father.  And you’re also drowning out what the world is shouting at you.

It’s easy.  You’ve just got a choice to make.  Five minutes on facebook or Twitter or the ESPN app … OR … five minutes in Proverbs?

your choice…