A triumphal warrior’s call

Subversive for the Savior
Devotional by John Piper      (my comments in orange)

When Jesus met the man filled with demons at Gadara, the demons cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29)

Demons learned a mystery here. They knew they were doomed. They knew the Son of God would be the Victor. But they didn’t know until it happened that Christ was coming before the time of final defeat.

Christ is not going to wait until the atom bomb drops to end the war. He has begun to lead a subversive force into the territory of Satan. He has trained a “life-squad” (that’s us boys) to perform daring rescue operations. Christ has plotted many tactical victories before the time of the final strategic victory.

The resulting wartime mentality is this: Since Satan’s doom is sure, and he knows it, we can always remind him of it when he tempts us to follow him. (Remember … “Lake of fire, Lake of fire”.  When assaulted, remind the foul one of his final destination!)  We can laugh and say, “You’re out of your mind. Who wants to join forces with a loser?!”

The church is the liberated enemy of “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). We are the guerrillas and the gadflies. We are the insurgency in the rebel kingdom of “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2).  (Big AMEN to that!)

It is not safe. But it is thrilling. Many lives are lost. Satan’s forces are ever on the lookout for our subversive activity. Christ has guaranteed resurrection for all who fight to the death. But he has not guaranteed comfort, or acceptance from the world, or prosperity in enemy territory.

Many have gladly given their lives behind the lines running errands for the Commander. I can think of no better way to live — or die!

Manschool starts back Jan 25th

The Tribe will come back together on Wednesday January 25th at 6am.

This season of Manschool will be quite a bit different than the past.  It’s going deeper.  To get the most out of this, you’re going to need to commit.  Rather than “sitting”, you’re going to need to be “all in”.

It is time to step it UP a notch.  The men of Christ Community need to stepUP into the “more” we talk so frequently about.  God is stirring and moving in our church.  The Prayer Week this past week was A M A Z I N G.  It wasn’t prayer … it was revival.  Frankly, I hope this is how we do Prayer week from now on.  If you were there, you were richly fed and I think you felt the Father’s presence.

I only went to the last two of the four sessions.  It was an “investment” to commit to go and man, what a return on investment I got.  I wish I had done all four.

I say that as an analogy to what you can expect in Manschool this Spring.  To receive, you’re going to have to invest.  We’ll be more in the Word than previous sessions.  There will be more teaching and less videos.  The small groups are going to be even more important and the group leaders will shoulder more of the responsibility.  You will need be prepared to dig deep, bring your Bible and a notebook.  If you will do the work, you’ll see the reward.

I am excited but I am also in awe of what is to come.  I am humbled.  My word for 2017 is “Dirt”.  Touched on this some in last few Manschool’s but boy, God has really been after me on this since we last gathered.  Dirt.  You ride along on the high horse of who you are.  The education you have, the job, the home, the friends, the family … the man.  And the longer you ride that horse, the more you forget about God.  The more you lose sight of gratitude and the harder it is to grasp Grace.  And then, if you’re lucky, God comes along and knocks you off that high horse.  Pardon my French but He knocks your ass off the horse.  Face down in the dirt.  Lip bleeding , eyes crusted with tears and dirt, you start to lift your head up out of the dirt.  And Jesus is there extending a hand, “Get up son, we’ve got some things to talk about.”  And in that process, your world is realigned.  You see just how far off the mark you’ve been.  You see the posing.  You see how you value things more than you value Him.  You see how a few nights at worship is FAR more satisfying than “I’m tired and just want to come home from work and veg out”.  When we have these Saul to Paul moments, God is reshaping us and turning us away from the path of our choosing and placing us on the path He needs us to serve on.  It isn’t fun.  No fun.  But after this thing happens, you start to understand gratitude a bit better and you are reintroduced to Grace.  None of us deserve anything we have.  It all belongs to God.  Your money, your job, your church, your children, your future.  It’s all His.  And when we start to think it’s all about us, we’re in deep trouble.

God is stirring.  He is moving.  These next two years at Christ Community are going to be amazing.  An Awakening has been started and it’s going to be terrifying, thrilling, life-altering and community-changing.

the question for you is – are you willing to do the hard work?  will you invest?  will you go wherever He sends you or give up all that you think you must have to follow Him?

Breaking out of inward living – Excurvatus Ex Se

There are many ways to break out of the cycle of inward living.  The more you “medicate”, the more inwardly you will turn thus requiring even more medication and a deeper turn inward upon self.

Medicate?  Scrolling through Instagram or Facebook.  Just cruising around the internet.  A few glasses of wine.  That need to just go buy something so you’ll feel better about yourself.  Indulging on Chipotle.  Chocolate.  Ice cream.  Shutting off from people, plugging in your ipod, opening up your laptop – listening and watching what will make you feel good.  Pornography.  Pure and simply, porn is simply medication.  Shopping for women.  A new car.  There 100s more forms of medication.  1000s.

The root of all of these is “self”.  It is sin.  You are hurting and your flesh cries out for comfort and after all, “you deserve it”.  So you dive in.  And as we discussed Wednesday, as that cycle feeds on itself, the man underneath curves inward upon himself.  He becomes domesticated.  Indoors.  Behind a screen.  Weak.  Physically weak.  Nothing strenuous.  Nothing to push him.  Just give me the meds.  Remember what Hugh Freeze said – life is going to beat you up and you’re going to want to run to the training room.  They have hot tubs and ice packs in there.  They’ll rub you down and tape you up and make you warm and you’re not going to want to get back out on that cold, rainy football field.  But you have to get back into the game.

Sadly for Americans, we’ve turned inwardly in our wealth and privilege and are consuming medication at the fastest pace in history.  It only serves to dig our holes deeper.  We’ve embraced this in the church.  We’ve adopted a Country Club Christianity where we come to church to get our needs met, to hear the kind of music we want to hear, to have our kids perfectly attended by volunteers (“someone else does that”) … we come to church to be served.  We don’t like the style of music so we walk in when the sermon starts.  Or we even leave the church because we miss those traditional Baptist hymns.  We run in, consume what is there, take communion and walk out the door before its over without having to engage in community.  We leave the church because our 10-year old isn’t happy with how kids church is going.  We’re letting our children make the family decision of where we will worship because their comfort and happiness is paramount.

It is the self-obsessed tendency we all have.  The “me, me, me” of life being there to meet all my needs.  The more we curve in on ourselves, the less prepared and equipped we’ll be for when the inevitable hard times come and isn’t that what we’re teaching our kids?  When life doesn’t go exactly “our way”, we won’t have mechanisms in place to deal with it.  As a result, we’ll make poor, me-centered decisions.

Incurvatus is our sin nature.  It must be fought.  You must be aware of it.

Because, it comes on subtly.  It takes root.  We lose our bearings.  We lose our worship of the Father.  We lose the passion of our early faith.  We settle.  We crave comfort.  In the radical transformation of your life when Jesus knocked you off your horse and said, “I’ve chosen you. Follow me” … in that … how have we now gotten to a place where our personal comfort is paramount?

What part of Jesus is “safe”?

He loves us, adores us, died for us and all He asked was “Do you love me?  Do you love me?  Then follow me.”  “Follow me” doesn’t mean a life that is safe nor one that is inwardly curved upon itself craving comfort.

Do you see what’s happening?  We are consuming and consuming and consuming and in so doing, we’re turning in on ourselves.  Listen to this challenge from Erwin McManus …

“If you are a follower of Christ and you have allowed yourself to be domesticated, you have lost the power of who you are and who God intends you to be.  You were not created to be normal.  God’s desire for you is not compliance and conformity.  You have been baptized by spirit and fire.”

“Asleep within you is a barbarian, a savage to all who love the prim and proper.  You must go to the primal place and enter the presence of the Most High God, for there you will be changed. Let Him unleash the untamed faith within you.”

“The original call of Jesus was so simple, so clean, so clear: “Follow me”.  He wants us to surrender our lives to Him and follow Him into the unknown.  If it means a life of suffering, hardship and disappointment, it will be worth it because following Jesus is more powerful and more fulfilling than gaining everything of the world without Him.”

“To claim we believe is simply not enough.  The call of Jesus is one that demands actions.  Jesus began his ministry with a simple invitation, “Come, follow me”.  His closing words to His disciples could be summarized in one word, “GO”.  The invitation of Jesus is a revolutionary call to fight for the heart of humanity.”

YOUR CALL IS ONE OUTSIDE OF SELF.  IF YOU ARE A BELIEVER, THEN AT SOME POINT IN YOUR LIFE, CHRIST CAME ALONG AND KNOCKED YOU OFF YOUR HORSE.  LAYING THERE, BROKEN, FACE DOWN IN THE DUST OF THE DESTRUCTION OF YOUR SIN, YOU WERE AWAKENED BY CHRIST.  “NOW GET UP” HE SHOUTS.  “WAKE UP!”  “I HAVE A DIVINE PURPOSE FOR YOU AND YOUR LIFE.  IT IS WAY BEYOND SELF.  IT’S WAY BEYOND COMFORT.  IT IS RADICAL.  FOLLOW ME”. 

Lastly, from Teddy Roosevelt.  Weak as a child and sickly, his father told him, “You’re smart but your body is weak.  A weak body will take a smart mind only so far”.  Teddy started weight training and exercising.  It served him well throughout life.  Later in life, he lost his wife and mother in one 24 hour period.  Crushed and despondent, he knew he had to zero back in and get healing in his life.  He gave his young daughter to his sister for her to care and he headed West…

Why did he go?  Why such a dramatic move?  The answer seems to be that Roosevelt needed to restore and rebuild and he knew only one way to do it: return to the strenuous and the difficult.  Perhaps those hours of lifting weights and balancing on horizontal bars had surfaced forces of soul he needed to summon once again.  Perhaps a return to the arduous physical life was the only way he knew to quell the turmoil of his heart.  Obviously, he needed space, wilderness, difficult tasks, and looming danger.  He knew this was the key to healing.  He had experienced this truth in his life before.

After arriving in the Dakotas, Roosevelt did not spend three years in a comfortable chair by the fire with a brandy in one hand and a book in the other.  Instead, he became the western hero of his dreams.  He herded cattle and broke bucking horses.  He stood down grizzlies and fought off desperados.  On one occasion, he tracked down thieves for three days across 300 miles in subzero temperatures.  Once he took the criminals captive, he then traveled another six days and 150 miles to surrender them to authorities.  And the wilderness healed him.  He tamed the wilderness around him by way of taming the wilderness of his own soul.  He grieved and got through it.  He lived in the moment, in the physical, and in intimate connection with nature.  It forced him from living entirely in his thoughts to living a rooted, earthy life in which thoughts come only after work is done.

All men need what Roosevelt found – a strenuous physical life, the possibility of harm, challenges to face, enemies to oppose, land to conquer.  Our lives push us away from this.  We work in cubicles or comfortable vehicles.  Technology serves us and keeps us from exertion.  We live in opulent blandness – overfed, over-tended, over-entertained, and overly preoccupied with ourselves.  But men need aggressive, physical lives.  They need contest and conquest, strain and struggle.  Otherwise, we lose ourselves to softness and effeminacy.  It is not much of a surprise that a New Testament world that is translated effeminate from the original Greek actually means “soft through luxury”.  It is a warning. 

Roosevelt reminds us we are not disembodied spirits.  We are souls sealed into bodies.  We need to work the machinery, be alive in both body and soul.  It will awaken the masculinity in us.  It will help us untangle our inner knots.  It will remind us we are men.   (from the book Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men)

 

Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt became an American symbol of the “strenuous life” – one of his favorite phrases.  He believed in hard work, in pushing the body, in living on the aggressive, muscular, energetic side of life.  He worried that his generation of men were going soft and that the body would rob the mind and then the manhood of the nation.  He was right to be concerned.  We should be terrified of this today.

He didn’t start out like this.  Born into a wealthy family, he was a sickly child with severe asthma.  He was intellectual with a fierce curiosity and zeal for investigating life, but his body failed him.  Exertions brought on breathlessness which left him weak and bedridden.  Even when he paced himself, he quickly ran out of energy.  He seemed doomed to a nearly housebound life.  His father finally intervened and sat him down and said, “Theodore, you have the mind, but you have not the body, and without the help of the body, the mind cannot go as far as it should.  You must make your own body.  It is hard drudgery to make one’s body, but I know you will do it.” 

It was a turning point.  What boy wishes to disappoint his father?  What boy does not take to heart his father’s solution to a life-altering challenge?  A family member who watched the conversation later said that young Theodore, “the sorry little specimen”, looked up at his father, “threw his head back and declared he would do it”.  He devoted himself completely to the challenge.  He lifted weights, hammered away at a punching bag, swung dumbbells and spent hours grunting himself into position on the horizontal bars.  Years went by with little improvement.  Finally as a freshman in college, it started to take hold and Teddy experienced a “miraculous transformation”.  Those dreary years of exercise, hour after hour, made him into a man who knew the power of work, of will over body, and of the need for a man to live a strenuous life.

Later in life, he tragically lost his dear wife and his mother in one 24-hour period.  He was destroyed – “the light has gone out of my life” he would write.  He had a baby daughter he knew was in need a woman’s care and what he did next shocked the upper crust NY society but it completed the process of making him a heroic man.  He handed his beloved daughter to his sister, sold nearly everything he had, and moved to the Dakota territories, where for several years, he had been investing in a cattle ranch that overlooked a bend in the Missouri River.  He remained there for three years.

Why did he go?  Why such a dramatic move?  The answer seems to be that Roosevelt needed to restore and rebuild and he knew only one way to do it: return to the strenuous and the difficult.  Perhaps those hours of lifting weights and balancing on horizontal bars had surfaced forces of soul he needed to summon once again.  Perhaps a return to the arduous physical life was the only way he knew to quell the turmoil of his heart.  Obviously, he needed space, wilderness, difficult tasks, and looming danger.  He knew this was the key to healing.  He had experienced this truth in his life before.

After arriving in the Dakotas, Roosevelt did not spend three years in a comfortable chair by the fire with a brandy in one hand and a book in the other.  Instead, he became the western hero of his dreams.  He herded cattle and broke bucking horses.  He stood down grizzlies and fought off desperados.  On one occasion, he tracked down thieves for three days across 300 miles in subzero temperatures.  Once he took the criminals captive, he then traveled another six days and 150 miles to surrender them to authorities.  And the wilderness healed him.  He tamed the wilderness around him by way of taming the wilderness of his own soul.  He grieved and got through it.  He lived in the moment, in the physical, and in intimate connection with nature.  It forced him from living entirely in his thoughts to living a rooted, earthy life in which thoughts come only after work is done.

All men need what Roosevelt found – a strenuous physical life, the possibility of harm, challenges to face, enemies to oppose, land to conquer.  Our lives push us away from this.  We work in cubicles or comfortable vehicles.  Technology serves us and keeps us from exertion.  We live in opulent blandness – overfed, over-tended, over-entertained, and overly preoccupied with ourselves.  But men need aggressive, physical lives.  They need contest and conquest, strain and struggle.  Otherwise, we lose ourselves to softness and effeminacy.  It is not much of a surprise that a New Testament world that is translated effeminate from the original Greek actually means “soft through luxury”.  It is a warning. 

Roosevelt reminds us we are not disembodied spirits.  We are souls sealed into bodies.  We need to work the machinery, be alive in both body and soul.  It will awaken the masculinity in us.  It will help us untangle our inner knots.  It will remind us we are men.   (from the book Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men)

Fathered by God (3) – The Cowboy

About age 13, the question arises and it is “the” question of the masculine journey – “Do I have what it takes? Am I a man?”  It defines our life as men.  We get it answered through older men in their affirmation, validation and initiation through experiences in adventure and hard work.  Like when your Dad or Granddad tasks you to do something for the first time by yourself and you think “Wow, he thinks I’ve got what it takes and he thinks I can do this.”

The heart of the cowboy is wounded at this stage when he doesn’t have any of these experiences – when he never ventures out, never takes risks and never has those experiences that test him.  Or it is wounded when he does and he has failures and his Dad labels him – “you’re a Mama’s boy” or “You’re an idiot” or a “whimp”.

Teddy Roosevelt knew he was an unfinished man and so he put himself into hard places, learned to hunt, took on hard work with his hands and tools = he went into that unfathered place and got it.

So the encouragement to you is to fix things at your home.  Fix the broken sprinkler.  Fix the busted door.  Go to Home Depot, ask for help, watch youtube videos, figure it out and then do it.  Don’t just call someone.

Without these experiences, we become men who won’t take risks, who are hesitant, soft, stay in areas where we feel safe.  It’s wrong to let a man stay on the couch or the boy to stay in front of the video game.  Seek adventure with other men.  Your heart loves being a part of something and being invited up into something big.

The risk is that you find something you’re good at and you lock onto it.  Work.  It’s safe.   I can do it.  “I can do my job” and so you go there. All your energy is poured into work and you disengage from the rest of life.  Work becomes your life.  You don’t need to take risks, work justifies you.  It justifies a small existence.  And so everything else in his life suffers because work is his life.  The contra is true as well – that we can become adventure junkies and just spend our lives seeking the next, greatest adventure.  And that’s a small life too because where is the wife?  Where is the investment in the kids?  Where is community?  We must seek an appropriate balance here.

If you’ve missed this as a man – go get it.  It’s there.  God can take you there.  You can learn to hunt or to fix a lawnmower or build a table. It’s never too late.  You can pick up deer hunting at age 40.  You can learn to fish at 50.  You can learn woodworking or plant a vegetable garden.  You can hike the Appalachian Trail.  It doesn’t have to be outdoors – though we suggest that because there is something about nature that tests us – adventure can be starting a new ministry, working at a food bank or starting a small group of men.   The point is, adventure is just beyond your comfort zone.  Will you take the step?

It seems like God allows hardships in our lives because there is something He wants to surface.  It’s one thing to be told you have what it takes, it’s quite another to be tested and see there is actually a resolve in you that rises up in the face of adversity.

So the question for you today is “At what point in your life do you find adventure?”  Where is it?  Are you living any adventure?

How would you like to drive an M-1Abrams tank?

m1a1_abrams

Kerry Williams has arranged for a special event for Manschool men – the chance to spend a morning at Fort Benning driving M-1 Abrams tank simulators.  These are full motion simulators.  They are exact replicas of the actual M-1 driver’s compartment.  Each simulator will have an instructor who will put you through a class on tank driving.

This is a fantastic opportunity to spend the morning on base doing something incredibly cool as a Tribe.  After we are finished, the group will meet for lunch somewhere nearby.

We have room for up to 50 men on a first come, first serve basis.  The actual time of the class is 9am-12pm on Wednesday July 27th.  We will arrange for the schedule/carpool once we have the RSVP’s.  You’ll probably need to get to base around 7am to get through security, etc. but more details to come on this.

We won’t have manschool that Wednesday if a bunch of men take Kerry up on this opportunity but I’ll let you know that as we get closer.  If you want to do this and can get off work for a few hours, please RSVP right away so we can reserve your slot.  Comment below to book your spot ASAP.