you never know when

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clear eyes, full hearts. Can’t lose. Manschool starts 9/18

Manschool resumes in two weeks – Wednesday September 18th at 6am.  We’ll be done by 7am and small groups go for 30 minutes afterwards.

Clear eyes, full hearts.  Can’t lose.  

This will be the theme of Manschool for this “school year”.  A man of clear eyes – seeing what is going on in and around him.  A man with clear eyes to see the errors of his ways and instead, learning to lean upon the Father for his daily bread, daily guidance.  A man with clarity of vision – to see that he is being called UP into a life of service beyond self, outward living rather than curving in upon himself.  A man with clear eyes to see these are dark days we’re living in – warfare rages all around him and coming to the place that he can clearly see he cannot navigate this world alone.

Clear eyes.

Full hearts – once we develop clarity of vision, clarity of the situation at hand, we can move forward into a life of a “full heart”.  We will explore and dig into learning what it means to be a man “in love” with Jesus.  A man “sold out” on the Gospel.  A man that knows he will take nothing with him at the end of this life and instead will pour out his life into the lives of others in love.

Full hearts.

A man with clear eyes and full heart … cannot lose.  This will be our quest this year.  It’s time to prepare.  It’s time to reach out and find other men that need to be a part of our Tribe.  There are men at your work, men in our church, neighbors, hunting buddies, etc. that are out there doing life alone.  They need our Tribe.  They need to hear this message.  But it won’t happen unless you pursue them.  They aren’t just going to come.  You need to ask them.  If Manschool means a lot to you, then you can speak with confidence to them about how valuable this Tribe is.

Can’t wait.  It’s gonna be great.

 

man ALIVE…

Manschool will resume in two weeks.  Wednesday January 23rd at 6am.

I must tell you that through conversations with a number of men that I think this spring is going to be a special time for our Tribe.  These men I am talking to will be new to our Tribe.  Each one has asked “what is it that you guys do?” and when I describe it, they each say, “That sounds exactly like what I’ve been needing – a real, authentic, speak-the-truth, no BS gathering of men from all walks of life”.

I want to challenge you.  Each of you.  There are men ALL around you that need what we have to share on Wednesday mornings.  Our Tribe is a real blessing.  I’ve asked you many times, “if you were out there on your own, doing life alone as a man … what would you give to have a gathering like we have?”  Well … WE HAVE IT!  We have what those men are looking for.

You’ve benefited from what has happened.  It’s now time to share it.  It’s now time to expand our Tribe and use it for what God created it to be … an outreach.  A lifeline.  A rescue.  An island in the storm.  A safe place.  You’ve got men all around you – brothers, neighbors, co-workers, hunting buddies, etc. that need to come.  They need to be here.  They need to experience this.  Will we curve inward and just take what is shared – or – will we live OUTWARD – excurvatus ex se – and give what we have away to other men who need what we have to offer?

It’s not about numbers but I’d like us to outgrow our room.  I’d like us to need more room for all the men coming.  Do you believe that’s possible?  Do you believe God wants other men to reap in what we have all enjoyed?

Each one, reach one.  Cultivate.  Ask some questions.  Ask a friend to just come and try it.

Let’s see what God can do for a Tribe that dreams.  Our best days are yet to come.  There is more and we’re going after it.

What a man after God’s own heart looks like…

Franciscan Benediction


May God bless me with discomfort

At easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships

So that I may live from deep within my heart.


May God bless me with anger

At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of God’s creations

So that I may work for justice, freedom and peace.


May God bless me with tears

To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war

So that I may reach out my hands to comfort them and to turn their pain to joy.


And may God bless me with just enough foolishness

To believe that I can make a difference in the world

So that I can do what others claim can’t be done

To bring justices and kindness to all our children and to all our neighbors who are poor.


 

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?

 

bold…

here are the slides from today –> Which Kingdom 2

What we experienced this morning was an obedient, bold act by a man struggling through a very difficult time.  That wasn’t easy.  I know it was very hard for him to walk into that room knowing what was about to happen.  But … he did it.

He was willing to sacrifice himself on the hope that we were listening.  It was a warning to all of us.  WAKE UP.  This stuff is real and it is dangerous and it carries consequences WAY beyond the moment.  Perhaps there was just one man sitting there this morning wondering if his marriage was going to make it, wondering if that woman at work was worth pursuing a bit more, wondering if the grass would indeed be greener on the other side.  We pray that this man heard the testimony this morning and it woke him up.

If that happened, this man’s sacrifice was completely worth his pain.

This is the power of a testimony.  I hope you heard in his story, not only the pursuit of evil against him but way more importantly, how God is pursuing him.  Through his father’s words in a dream to his friend who hand delivered him to Manschool to your support in the safety of that room, this man is being pursued by the Father.

So are you.

The two questions for all of us is “whose voice are you listening to?” and “which kingdom are you going to serve?”  If your pursuit today is all about you, your pleasures, your needs, your right to be happy then you will curve inward and consume like a locust and the enemy has you.  And you will be in a prison of your own making.

On the other hand, if you see that life isn’t all about you, that there is a Kingdom of Glory we serve, a divine calling we all have as believers that has zero to do with self and is all about giving us away in the service of others, then you will curve outward and live excurvatus.  And you will experience freedom you could have never imagined and the abundant life Jesus proclaimed.

which kingdom are you going to serve?

What a great Friday night!

We had about 80 men and women at the dinner Friday night.  The food was great as was the music.  The Spirit was present and I think our women got a great idea of what Manschool is all about.

Here are the slides … M&W january 2018

And here is the video of John Eldredge’s talk on the Hope of the coming Kingdom… 

And the two short videos …

This fallen world can really beat you up.  We battle enemies on multiple fronts and your heart is under constant assault.  Social media doesn’t help.  In fact, more and more studies are coming out about the devastating impact of social media on self-worth, the fear of missing out and depression.

Indeed, it is easy to lose heart.  In fact, I believe you will lose heart … unless … you radically place your hope upon the Cross and the restoration of all things through Jesus.  You’re not going to find peace in “stuff”.  New cars, new clothes, new TV’s, expensive vacations and fine wines will not restore you.  They are symptoms of a wounded heart looking for home.  As you chase these things, you are trying to medicate a deeper pain.  For some people, they never get out of this cycle as their life becomes one new toy after another, only digging the hole in their soul deeper and deeper.

Perhaps as you read this, God is nudging you.  It’s time for brokenness.  It’s time to give up the chase of that elusive peace you think you’re going to find in this fallen world and, instead, turn to the Cross.  Only Jesus can heal you pain and my friend, your pain is very, very real.  You do not live in Eden any more.  You’ve made some mistakes in your life and other, fallen, broken people have sinned against you inflicting deep hurt against your heart.  These are real and consequential and your actions to deal with them, has led to even more pain.  It’s a vicious cycle which is precisely what the enemy wants for your life.

The most radical thing you can do right now is give up that old, dead-end life and surrender to your brokenness.  Go to the pain.  Feel it.  Experience it.  Share it with people you trust.  Let the tears come.  And then, invite Jesus into the pain.  Ask Him what He is wanting to say to you.  Ask Him what He thinks of you as a son or daughter.  Commit to giving up all those old “lovers”.  They didn’t work anyway.  Today is the day that you can turn a new, glorious page and do a 180 degree turn.  You’ve been walking (or running) away from Jesus a long time but if you will stop, surrender and invite Him into your soul as your Savior and if you will truly “give up the keys” of your life, as you turn around even though you may have been running for 40+ years, He will be right there behind you ready to embrace you.

Watch these videos.  Let the great and only True hope – the Hope of the Coming Kingdom – wash over your soul.  Glory to God!

PS – here is the Jimmy Evans talk on Exposing the Roaring Lion…

and here is the Todd White talk…

Dabo Swinney talk

Attached is a link to Coach Swinney’s talk here in Columbus.  It’s long but it is full of wisdom.  He did a great job and poured so much of himself into the talk.  He left nothing on the field.  If you have children, I promise you, there are many lessons in this talk that will help you with your kids.

What you will see come through in this talk is here is a man who came from a terrible background but he persevered.  As he likes to say, “There is no handicap in life except a bad attitude”.   He had a clear vision for what he wanted the Clemson program to be about and the impact he wanted it to have on the players entrusted to him.  He has a strong faith and he knew God had a purpose for his life beyond “self” – exactly what we’ve been talking about these past few weeks.

God clearly had a purpose and mission for Dabo Swinney and he is living it out and in so doing, is impacting so many.

Comfort must fall (pt 2)

Here are the slides from this morning … Comfort must fall

Like fear, the giant of comfort is sneaky – especially in the American church.  It is so easy to slip into the luxury of comfort, the safety of “home”, the deception that your ministry field is contained to just the four walls of your family.  There is so much more you are called to do.  Jesus came to this world with a gigantic mission and He left us to fulfill that mission.  The need in this community is a desperate one.  The kids your kids hang out with … need the Gospel.  Their parents do.  The other dads you hunt with or stand with at the ball field … need the Gospel.  Your neighbors do, your co-workers.

Louie Giglio reminded us last week … “The giant of comfort is all about getting us to settle for the easy road and slowly slipping into the mentality of “I want my life to be a stress-free, pain-free, difficulty-free life while I celebrate a Savior who had a life exactly the opposite of that.”

Truth is, too many of us have settled into the pursuit of our comfort as the operating system for our lives.

Our faith thrives best in times of discomfort.  Shakings come along in life and it is usually in those times of great shaking, great uncertainty, that God does His greatest work in our lives.  You must fight the temptation to seek comfort.  It truly is a daily denial of self.  It is turning away from “Me-ism” and looking outward … daily.  It’s a fight because our flesh and our enemy war against this desire.  The last thing the enemy wants is for you to live beyond self, outward for others.  But this is precisely how Jesus lived His life.

McManus said today – Love always builds for others. It looks beyond our convenience. You don’t give money so church can be more comfortable for you, more convenient for you, easier for youIf you’ve already experienced the life-changing presence of Jesus, it doesn’t need to get any easier for you.  If you have been set free by the power and love of Jesus, you’ve been set free for a reason, to do a great work to advance God’s kingdom.”

Jesus came to build for others.  He did not come for convenience, a cushy retirement and every luxury He could accumulate.  John Piper once said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like this – find the treasure, feel the joy, forsake the stuff.”  Amen.

Blessings to all of you this Christmas season.  Live outside self.  Minimize “me”.  Pour out into others.  Forgive quickly.  Love always.  Fight the good fight.  LiveUP!

The Glory of God (part 2)

Here are the slides from today > The Glory of God

At some point in your life, God appeared in your story – “and the Glory of God shone all around them and they were terrified” When God appears, your story changes.  He is beyond all comprehension.

Sometimes this happens quite innocently – you’re 12 years old, off at a church youth camp and God moves on your soul and you accept Jesus as your Savior.  For others of us, this moment comes when at the depth of our depravity and sin, we reach a level of brokenness that can only be saved by a miracle … and God … shows up.  Others of us have pursued our flesh, chased our pleasures, sought after money and possessions to medicate our broken souls and a friend introduces us to perhaps a better way … and we meet Jesus for the first time.

Whatever the case, when God truly comes into your life, whenever God moves upon your soul – your life will never be the same.  And you will know by the fruit it bears.  You will know it when that man walks away from his selfish desires of “me first” and changes seemingly overnight.  You know it when the drug dealer becomes a missionary.  You know it when a woman stands to testify and she can barely get the words out of her mouth about how radically transformed her life is because of Jesus.  HE is who we worship.  HE is why we praise.  HE is why we stand and sing and dance and why we move towards others in love as brothers.  HE is why we give up worldly pleasures to chase after more of God.  To God be ALL the Glory!

The missionary Jim Elliott famously said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose” Let that soak in.

And so this morning, We challenged the current status quo and asked some tough questions.  Why are you saved?  Is it for prosperity?  Is it so you can be comfortable?  So you can lead a blessed and prosperous life?  So you can keep your faith to yourself because you’re really not comfortable intruding into others lives with a discussion of spirituality?

Why are you saved?

What purpose did God have in mind when He rescued you?  What is your calling?  What is your divine purpose?  You possess the most valuable treasure in the universe – a God who loved you so much that He GAVE Jesus … for you.  He did so … for a reason.  You have a role to play in HIStory.  What is it?

The problem with the “why are you saved?” question is that for many of us, we’ve fallen into the trap of living out an inverted theology.  Instead of “Glory to God in the highest” as our first and foremost, we’re living out “my” story.  It’s me.  Mine.  My glory.  My accomplishments.  The success of my kids.  The success of my career.  My pleasure.  My consumption.  My gratification.  My trips.  My luxuries.  My comfort.

To that end, I ask you, “If your sin is not gluttonous and ravenous, then what is it?”  I mean really.  Let’s just say it like it is.  Indeed, my sin is both full of a gluttonous, and ravenous hunger that cannot be quenched.  There isn’t enough sex, isn’t enough gratification, isn’t enough pleasure or money or applause, approval, devotion, attention to fill the hole in my soul.

And you know this too by its fruit – a man cannot sin in isolation.  His ravenous appetite for “more” always brings collateral damage to others.

The inverted theology explains so much.  It explains all the Goliath’s in our life and why they are so powerful.  It explains why we leave our church because the music is too loud or not reverent enough.  We leave because the kids program isn’t exactly how we think it needs to be or because the pastor won’t take the political side we need him to take.  We are there in church as a consumer.  Inverted theology fully explains the prosperity “gospel” because, after all, it is all about “me” and God wanting to bless me.  Inverted theology explains why we’ve watered down the Gospel, won’t take controversial stands and why we’ve embraced a “politically correct” stance.  We’re making it all about us instead of being all about God and what HE is doing.

I fear we’ve lost sight of that radical God and the earth-shattering transformations He has brought about in our lives.  When you know that God, you will chase after Him with all your might.  You will worship and sign and dance and you’ll not care what others may think about you.  You’ll “get” what Jim Elliott was talking about.  The things of this earth won’t satisfy and you know it.  You’ll want more of God and less of the world.  God saved you for a reason, for a divine purpose.  We live in a toxic “me-first” world and we have an enemy just waiting for the chance to trip us up and lure us into a self-absorbed lifestyle.  He lulls us into a spiritual complacency and a “nice, comfortable” Christianity and as Louie said last week, the enemy is fine with that as long as you invert.  If you make the story about you and your wonderful life, he is fine with you adding, “Oh, and I worship a great God”. 

What the enemy fears is you waking up to what is going on and re-inverting the story to put God rightfully back up on top of the story.  Now it is HIStory and I have a supporting role to play.  I will go anywhere, do anything He calls me to.  Will I have worldly success and all the creature comforts?  Surely not but I am giving up things I cannot keep anyway for treasure I can never lose.  A man told me today about a young girl hoping to go to North Korea as a missionary… North Korea!  He said, “that’s pretty risky” and she said, “Oh I never envisioned entering heaven with all my arms and legs anyway”.  Wow.

What are you going to do with all this … ?