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…

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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 … ?

 

what are you waiting for?

here are the slides from today > Goliath 3

Run the race … What is slowing you down or tripping you up?  It is time to strip off everything that is weighing you down.  In life, you only get to run once, so run to win.  To avoid stumbling and losing the race, don’t look back.  You can’t change the past but you can learn from it.  Don’t be anxious for about the next lap, focus on the next step.  Older and wiser people have come to understand their burdens are of no real importance.  We waste our strength extinguishing fires that if left alone would burn out on their own.  Time is your most valuable resource.  Save it and you’ve increased assets and decreased liabilities.  Travel light.  Ditch the baggage of self-sabotaging habits and pointless fears.  There enough painful trials in life; why endure the ones you can strip off?  You can never know how successful you can be until you get rid of the things that slow you down and trip you up.

Erwin McManus’ new book is the called The Last Arrow – save nothing for the next life.  He reminds us in this video that too many of us have equated the word “faith” with safety.  Nowhere in Scripture are we taught that as followers of Christ that our life will be safe.  If that’s the goal, that’s inward thinking — that life and faith is suddenly about me, my life, my comfort, my safety, etc.  Faith in Christ is risky and yet full of adventure but it begins with steps of faith and great courage…

Too many of us are so afraid of death that we never live, so afraid of failure that we never risk, so afraid of pain that we never discover  how strong we really are.

For me, fear is rampant.  The very nature of my work is risky.  Many things I simply cannot control.  I am daily at risk of simply being wrong, at risk of a client saying, “Enough.  You don’t know what you’re doing.  I’m firing you”.  That fear has hung over me like a sword.  The overwhelming message I heard this past summer was on “fear”.  Fear is pervasive in our society and in religion.  It is the design of an enemy who seeks to steal, kill and destroy.  He’s trying to steal your confidence.  Kill your desire to live and destroy your life.

How about you?  How much fear is in your life today?  Fear of failing?  Of being “found out” as a fake and a poser?  Fear of reaching for that next promotion?  Fear that you don’t have what it takes?  Fear of your wife?  Dig deep here.  Ask Father.

How do we combat this?  By the Word.  Yes, I am pressured in every way, but I am not crushed.  I am perplexed but not in despair.  Struck down but not destroyed.  (2 Corinthians 4:7-8).

I KNOW the cost of the Cross.  God paid it ALL for me.  Christ emptied Himself … for me.  I KNOW what HE thinks of me … “fearfully and wonderfully made”.  I know He delights in me and that I am His beloved son.

Sure, I will make mistakes in my career.  Yes, no doubt, I will lose clients for a variety of reasons.  BUT … it does not define me.  What defines me is Christ.  He determines my worth, not man.  If I rest in this, trust in this, believe this then I have no fear.  Say it again, no man will define my worth.  Christ defines what I’m worth and to Him, I’m worth it all.

McManus asks us, “If you’re not where you want to be, why do you keep choosing to stay where you are?  If you know there is a future waiting for you, why do you choose to stay in the past?  It is time to move past what God will do “For you” and to what God wants to do “Through you”. 

It is time to stop being a lake that stores up all the resources for your consumption and instead to become a river that flows those resources downstream to rescue others.  It is time to LiveUP and LiveOutward (excurvatus) for others.  Once I no longer fear man, I can then go battle for man.  Jesus calls us.  “Don’t weep for Me!  Join Me!”  He poured Himself out as an offering.  We are also called to do the same.

Which man will you be…

Inward?  Bruised and deeply wounded, you curve into self, living by fear and addiction.  You move away from others.  Seeking gratification in all you consume, having your needs met and your pain medicated?

Outward?  Restored and knowing I am delighted in by Father, I move outward towards others.  I have no fear.  Self dies.  There is no need to pose anymore.  No need to medicate.  I am who I am.  I’m a river flowing life to others.

Which man will you be?

Harrison gave us a great testimony of what Authentic Manhood looks like.  He is leading his family.  One income, the budget is tight but there are no financial secrets.  He and his wife talk and are open about their finances.  He’s praying.  She is praying.  He heard Father saying “pick up your sword” and discovered that meant, give this money away, trust Me.  Bravely, he came home to tell Stephanie and she said, “Let’s do this”.  She trusts his leadership.  It’s beautiful.  Do you see why he talked this morning?  Fear, yes of course but it is temporary fear which he rose above by trusting Father.  Stepping up to lead his wife?  Yes.  Bold?  Yes.  Risk?  Yes.  Courage?  Yes.  THAT is faith.  It is NOT safe but it leads to beautiful, marvelous freedom!

 

 

 

 

 

 

the giving tree …

slides from today > Goliath 2

The giants we face – fear, rejection, comfort, anger, addiction, self – all are designed to knock us into an “inward life”.  That wrapped up in our fear or our desire for comfort, we are curving in upon ourselves.  It’s exactly what the enemy wants you to do.

It’s a small life.  It may be safe to be wrapped up in seeking your comfort in the safety of your four walls – but it is a very small life.  There is an old saying, “A ship in the harbor is safe but that isn’t what ships are built for” … your life has a grander purpose than “self”.  As a believer in Christ, the call upon your life is very much a call outward.

We are going to spend this fall going after the giants in our lives.  Jesus has already slayed all the giants.  The work is done.  It is finished.  That said, we don’t live in Eden.  We live in a swamp and the enemy is still trying to take you down and one of his worst tricks is to hammer you with fear, rejection, addiction, etc. to try to defeat you and drive you into hiding.  You are made for more.

First point – It starts with what you’re worth.  From Todd White’s talk at Gateway Church …

Accepted into the beloved means you can never be rejected by man.  The enemy is trying to dominate your thoughts, your thinking, your mind, will and emotions to keep you from seeing your creative value and seeing the price that heaven paid for you.  The Cross isn’t just the revelation of your sin, it is the revealing of your value.  That song “I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon the Cross.”  No.  I need to know the cost because that price determines my value.

If God paid it all for me, then I am valuable.  If I see my value, I will never look in the mirror and say “worthless” again.  No, I am worth the blood of Jesus.

Jesus didn’t pay the price for me to then go hide in four walls.  He paid a price for me be a warrior and conduit to destroy hell.

You need to be reminded of your worth.  Think of your wife – think of how she looks at herself in the mirror every day or what scrolling through social media does to her heart.  She hears the whispers of “worthless” daily.  You battle this in your fight for her heart.  She isn’t worthless … she is priceless.  God paid it all for her.  The same is true for you.  God doesn’t see you as worthless, He sees you as HIS beloved son.  It’s going to be very hard to do all you can do for the Kingdom if you’re walking around constantly repeating the lies of the enemy that you have no value.  You do.

Erwin McManus reminds us from his new book, The Last Arrow

We can become so afraid of death that we never live, so afraid of failure that we never risk, so afraid of pain that we never discover how strong we really are. Too many of us believe the lies we have been told; that we’re not good enough, we’re not strong enough, we’re not talented enough… that we’re just not enough. But one of the facets of God that makes him extraordinary is his ability to do the impossible through ordinary, everyday, common people.

You cannot follow Jesus into your future if you’re holding onto your past.

From there, we flow to the second point – it’s time to lead

We frequently hear men can’t have authentic, real, deep relationships with other men.  We hear that women do community better than men.  Men will often say, “My wife knows Scripture, I don’t” and “She prays, I don’t”.   Men, those giants MUST fall.  It is time to lead.  Those statements are lies from the enemy.  I’m going to tell you that as good as women are at community, frankly, I think men can actually do it better than women.  We can actually go deeper, be more frank/candid and we can warrior for our brothers in ways women can’t.  We need to stop believing true “Tribe” can’t be done.  I’m telling you from personal experience, real, deep, authentic Tribe is doable and it is rich and it can change your life.

Maybe you don’t read the Bible or journal Scriptures.  Maybe you don’t really pray.  Maybe she has been to every Beth Moore Bible study ever held (!) … but … that doesn’t mean you can’t do this.  You can.  Today should be the day you turn this the other day.  Today is the day you pick up your Bible and start.  Today is the day you can go home and tell your wife that you’d like to pray for her and your kids.  Don’t hesitate.  This isn’t about perfection, it is about progress …

William Lawrence wrote, “On the plains of hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of victory, sat down to wait, and waiting … died!”

Don’t hesitate.  Do it.  Spiritual growth is about progress, not perfection.   Take the step.   Make progress.

Understand this, Satan will try to discourage you and defeat you by making you feel overwhelmed by the problem. You may not be able to overcome your addiction or anxiety or fear for the rest of your life, but with God’s help you can win the battle todayYou CAN lead your family today!

And to the third point – not what God can do [for] you but rather [through] you

“If you’re not where you want to be, why do you keep choosing to stay where you are? If you know there is a future waiting for you, why do you choose to stay in the past? It is time to move past what God will do for you and to what God will do through you.”          Erwin McManus – The Last Arrow

Which leads us to The Giving Tree.  Will you live incurvatus, curved in upon self?  Or will you live Excurvatus … that is a “life lived outward” for others?  Jesus didn’t die for you to be safe and comfortable.  He died that you might “die”.  Consider this from Brennan Manning’s The Furious Longing of God …

Jesus Christ has irreparably changed the world. When preached purely, His Word exalts, frightens, shocks, and forces us to reassess our whole life. The gospel breaks our train of thought, shatters our comfortable piety, and cracks open our capsule truths. The flashing spirit of Jesus Christ breaks new paths everywhere. His sentences stand like quivering swords of flame because He did not come to bring peace, but a revolution. The gospel is not a children’s fairy tale, but rather a cutting-edge, rolling-thunder, convulsive earthquake in the world of the human spirit.

By entering human history, God has demolished all previous conceptions of who God is and what man is supposed to be. We are, suddenly, presented with a God who suffers crucifixion. This is not the God of the philosophers who speak with cool detachment about a Supreme Being. A Supreme Being would never allow spit on His face.

It is jarring indeed to learn that what through in His passion and death is meant for us too: that the invitation He extends is “Don’t weep for Me! Join Me!” The life He has planned for Christians is a life much like He lived. He was not poor that we might be rich. He was not mocked that we might be honored. He was not laughed at so that we could be lauded.

Once or twice in a lifetime, you hear a story that leaves an indelible mark on your heart and mind. Such is this story I first heard in 1967. It is Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.

“Once there was a tree… and she loved a little boy.” And so begins the story of a tree being happy because she is able to make the boy happy. At first the boy desires nothing but to climb on her branches, eat her apples, and lie in her shade.

But as the boy grows, so do his desires. But because of the tree’s love, she gives her apples for him to sell for money to have real fun; her branches that he might build a house for a wife and family; and her trunk so he could build a boat and sail away from the boredom of life.

And then one day, the prodigal returns to the tree that loves him. By now, she has given him everything; all that remains of her is an old stump. The boy, now an old man, needs only a quiet place to sit and rest. And the Giving Tree gives once more.”

Ever since hearing that story many years ago, I’ve loved Silverstein’s parable. It reminds me of Jesus, of whom Paul wrote in Philippians, “He emptied Himself”. He cried from his heart, nails in His hands, and poured out His blood that we might believe His love for us. Significantly, Jesus chose the giving tree, His cross, as the demonstrative sign of His absolutely furious love for us.

How is it then that we’ve come to imagine that Christianity consists primarily in what do for God? How has this come to be the good news of Jesus? Is the Kingdom that He proclaimed to be nothing more than a community of men and women who go to church on Sunday, take an annual spiritual retreat, read their Bibles every now and then, vigorously oppose abortion, don’t watch x-rated movies, never use vulgar language, smile a lot, hold doors open for people and get along with everybody?

Is that why Jesus went through the bleak and bloody horror of Calvary? Is that why He emerged in shattering glory from the tomb? Is that why He poured out His Holy Spirit on the church? To make nicer men and women with better morals?

The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creations. Not to make better people with better morals, but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love. This, my friends, is what it means to be a Christian. Our religion never begins with what we do for God. It always starts with what God has done for us, the great and wondrous things that God dreamed of and achieved for us in Jesus Christ.

And lastly and most importantly, this reminder about our Savior as the role model for our lives …

“Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death – even to death upon a cross.”

2 Philippians 2:5-8

MORE ON ALL OF THIS NEXT WEEK as we’re going to unpack this in greater detail.  Please do all you can to go hard after this material this week.  Read it.  Pray it.  Have many conversations with Father about it.  Some amazing things are about to happen.  Men in our midst are right on the verge of a breakthrough.  Come Lord Jesus, come.

 

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!