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.

I am worn out…

Everywhere I go, I am hearing the same thing – we are all exhausted.  Beaten up.  Out of breath.  Not enough time in the day.  That’s the “tyranny of the urgent” and this malaise that has fallen upon our society.  America makes up 5% of the world’s population and we consume 80% of the world’s opiates.  Legal pot.  Booze.  Porn.  Anti-depressants.  We are medicating the pain.  We are the richest and most prosperous nation in the history of mankind and we are also the most medicated society ever.

That’s one issue.  Just be aware of it.  As you’re drawn to medicate, ask yourself the deeper question of “why?”  What is it you’re after?  Why is this same pattern emerging as you think you’re doing good and something happens and you slip and run back to the medication of the day?  What is underneath that?

But the bigger theme I want to address is what is it we are to do when life smacks us down?  Pregnant daughter.  Son has gone off range.  Wife has walked out.  Business has failed or you think you’re exposed to the next round of layoffs.  You lose a child.  You get cancer.

Take these two issues together and I can assure you, life is going to smack you down.  You cannot navigate this life on your own.  Good luck trying.  Being a “type-A, driven, accomplished man” will not sustain you when you daughter shows up pregnant or when your wife has brain cancer.  It will only sustain you so long and you’ll quickly run out of that fuel.

These things will happen in your life.  If you’ve never faced one of these, good.  Congratulations.  Tape your ankles because your day is coming.  It comes for all of us.  What then?  These storms will come.  When you are driven and self-reliant, you will proudly strut on your high horse.  Life will knock your ass off that horse eventually.

It is in this moment that God works.  A self-reliant man doesn’t need God.  He’s got it figured out.  He has “gears” he can draw upon to make it through any situation until …

This picture of olive oil has a purpose in this message…

olive oil

Olive trees, to produce fruit, must have both the harsh winds of the East and the refreshing winds of the West.  They need hard times and good times to produce fruit.  Like an olive off the tree, you and I must be salted and soaked in water if we are to be ride of our hardness and bitterness.  We must be salted in the Truth and soaked in the Living Water.

What is most valuable in an olive is when it is pressed beyond recognition, crushed to destruction and yet, the oil that comes from the crushing is where the value comes from.  The oil can be turned to light.

Yes, you may be in a very tough, trying place right now.  But there is a purpose in it.  Which Kingdom will you serve?  Your kingdom of self-reliance?  Or His Kingdom?

“God, I cannot understand “why” this is happening, but I trust You. I trust that You will provide for me through this and I totally trust that You ARE good.  I am your beloved son and no matter how this gets better or if it never gets better, I am safe in Your arms”

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?

 

What’s the wise thing for me to do?

Here are the slides from this morning > Which Kingdom 3 – what is wise

Here is the video of Andy Stanley > http://justaskit.org/musical-chairs

This question will save you a lot of money.  Save you a lot of time.  More importantly, this question will save you a lot of tears.  In fact, your greatest regret would have been avoided if you had asked this simple question and then acted on it.

What is the wise thing to do?

Full version – In light of my past experience, my current circumstances and my future hopes and dreams, what’s the wise thing for me to do?

Not “right thing” but the wise thing.

If you don’t opt for wisdom, you accidentally opt for some other things.  If you walk away from wisdom – understand this – is to walk towards something else.  Many of us have never considered what we’re backing into when we say, “You know what? I know what the wise thing to do is, I’m just not going to do it.”

The fool knows but just doesn’t care.

“As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.”  Proverbs 26:11.

“A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes…”   Proverbs 10:23

If you have an area of your life where you say, “I know this is wrong but I’m going to do it anyway”, Solomon would say you’re a fool.  A fool knows the difference between right and wrong and they just don’t care.  A fool knows the consequences of doing wrong, they just don’t care.

To that, you’d say, “That is offensive, I’m never coming back to church”.  Yes, you will.  You’ll come back when you’ve experienced the cure for being a fool…

The cure for the simple = Time.

The cure for the fool = Tragedy.

Here’s the thing you need to know – in your mind it is – It’s my life, I can do what I want to.  It’s my body, I can do what I want to.  It’s my money, I can do what I want to.  I’m not hurting anyone else.”

That’s just not true.  This is where your foolishness has blinded you to your selfishness.

“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”  Prov 13:20

a companion of fools – OR — of a foolish husband of, of a foolish wife, of a foolish father, of a foolish boss, of a foolish brother, of a foolish friend … suffers harm.”

The tragedy of being a fool and of knowing right and wrong but just not caring isn’t that you just hurt yourself, its that eventually, you will hurt someone else.  And you can say all day long, “it wasn’t my intention” – yeah but they’re still hurt.  “I never mean to” – but they still got hurt.  Because the companion of fools suffers harm and your actions carry consequences.

Correct the simple and they won’t get you.

Correct the fool and they will ignore you.

Correct the mocker and they will hate you.

Correct the wise and they will thank you.

Eventually the simple, fool and mocker all will need wisdom.  At some point, they find themselves in a situation where they can’t talk their way out of, think their way out of, criticize their way out of.  Eventually, they need to work things out, get out of debt, break an addiction, rescue a marriage, reestablish contact with their kids – at some point, everyone sitting in these seats needs wisdom.

The problem is, if you sit in these seats long enough, Solomon would say you won’t even be able to recognize wisdom.  If you sit too long, you won’t even be able to hear wisdom.

It is heart breaking to be a pastor or counselor when people, who intentionally sat in these chairs for too long and they finally decide they want to fix their life, sit and tell you their story.  They say, “help me” and you think two things – 1) why did you wait so long and 2) what you want, you can never have in this life – you’ve done permanent damage to your life, to your relationships and in some cases, to your soul – not from God’s perspective but in the context of this life because you just stayed there too long and you knew it.

You reap what you sow.  You’re sowing, sowing, sowing, sowing and when you begin to reap, a counselor cannot erase the cause and effect consequences of sowing and reaping.

If you’re a mocker, you think “I can control outcomes.  I can control outcomes.  I can control outcomes.”  No, you can’t.  And because there are certain things you cannot fix, there will be certain things you can never experience because you were too arrogant to admit that your wife, your co-worker, your friend, your children, your brother, your boss … were right.

But here is the good news … whoever listens to me (wisdom says) … will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm. 1:33

vulnerable

here is the piece I read at the start about grace … Scan0129

here are the slides from this morning … Goliath 17 – Addiction (final) 2

and here is Glorious Day …

Keep this song on your list.  Look at the passion in the kids.  Listen to the words.  See the rejoicing.  “You called me out of the grave!!”   Amen!  Too many of us are walking around beaten and weighed down by this world and our mistakes.  Read the grace piece attached at the top of this post.  See those kids dancing and smiling and praising God.  “I’ve made so many mistakes”.  Yep, me too.  But Christ has called you out of that grave of mistakes into forgiveness and freedom and restoration.  Act like it.  Smile like it.  Engage people today like you own the most wonderful gift of all … because YOU do!

As soon as I feel vulnerable and weak and unable, I cover up and mask what is really true about me.  Saul covered up David’s vulnerabilities with armor.  Adam & Eve covered up.

It’s exactly what we do.  We can’t possibly go out into the world just as we are.  We feel vulnerable in our true self, so we cover up.  “I don’t want people to see me.  I am afraid of what they’ll think if they see me, so I’m going to hide me.  I don’t want to be vulnerable, so I cover up.  I don’t want people to know I’m afraid now, craving attention now, how insecure I am in this moment, how angry I am.  If I can have a drink before I go, I can cover up my insecurity.”

I mask the fact that I have vulnerabilities in my heart.

Before the fall, Adam & Eve had intimacy with God, peace with God and a place with God.  Sin entered, and they were isolated from God and they had no peace.  They had a place with men and hostility with men.

If we step out of peace and intimacy with God, we’ll instantly find what they found – comparison and compulsion.  And that’s where all of us in this room are, to some degree, today – a life driven by comparison and compulsion.  We all have the tendencies toward compulsive behavior.

Vulnerability isn’t all bad.  David took off his armor and went into battle vulnerable but in intimacy with God.  He may have been exposed but he was not alone.  He didn’t try to hide his vulnerability but, instead, he leaned into the ability of God.

When I am vulnerable, what do I do?  If I feel angry, tired, weak, that I am less than everyone thinks I am, unsure, tired from being overconfident all the time – what do you do?

We have to find God in the unmasked middle.

When I feel vulnerable, I have two choices …

Option 1 – cover up and get some drug to help me cope.

Option 2 – run to Jesus.  “I’m not going to cover or cope, I’m running to Jesus”

addictions10

There is great freedom in vulnerability, great freedom of letting go of being in control, posing as a man who has it all figured out, pretending you’ve got all the answers.  There is beauty in saying, “I don’t know” or “I don’t understand” or “this situation scares me” or especially, “I need help”.  We raise our hands in worship (some of us do!) but how about simply raising one hand the next time you are lost and saying, “I need some help”.

You won’t make in this life doing it alone.  You need tribe/community.  You need Father.  It is beautiful and, in fact, strong to admit you need help.  “In my weakness, I am strong”.

When we drop the pose and fall to our knees for the Father, we are admitting we are vulnerable and in that, we find great joy that Jesus embraces us just as we are.  Through that settled peace, we feel His acceptance and we are infused with His life.  And then, we can live out the Gospel exchanging out weakness for His strength.

Only when I am willing to be vulnerable can I truly see that He is ABLE!

addictions11