When the storms come…

There will two posts from today – first, the notes from the discussion.  The second post will relate to the story/video from Catalyst.    REMINDER – NO manschool next week (day before Thanksgiving) we will see you the following Wednesday.

here are the slides from today > Which Kingdom 10 – storms

Here is the “Tribe Tune” – Who YOU say I am … when the storms come and you are beat up and not certain of how it will turn out, LISTEN to this song.  “You ARE for me, not against me.  I am who YOU say I am!”

Rock bottom will teach you lessons that mountain tops never will.

Vegetation doesn’t flourish on mountain tops.  The lush growth is in the valleys.  When you’re in a difficult place, realize that the LORD either placed you there or allowed you to be there for reasons perhaps known now only to Himself.  Rest assured of this, whatever God has planned for you is way bigger than your comfort zone.

Last week, Derrick said – something to the effect of – “Detours come to break our pride and humble us, so we can be worth His glory”.

Not sure I heard that right, but I sat and pondered it.  “Worth His glory”?

The LORD has a glory – of that, there can be no doubt.  His glory will go where it will go.  Will it land on me?  Not if I’m full of pride.  Not if I lack humility.  Not if I forget from Whom all blessings flow.

Full of pride.  No humility.  Equals > “I’m in control.  Success is mine.  I made it.  I’m beautiful.  I’m talented.  I made “this”.  The self-made man.

Is that man worth God’s glory?

His glory will move and rest upon those in whom He finds favor.  That man that made it all on his own … the glory of God won’t come.  Glory might.  Success might.  Fame might.  But it won’t the glory of God.  It’ll be the glory of this world.

God’s glory won’t come and rest upon that man because he seemingly doesn’t need God.

Which Kingdom will I serve?

CS Lewis

“I’m not sure God wants us to be happy.  I think He wants us to love and to be loved.  But we are like children, thinking our toys will make us happy and that the whole world is our nursery.  Something must drive us out of that nursery and into the lives of others and that something is suffering.”

Suffering?  Why does suffering drive us out of the nursery?

Because suffering reminds us that the “things” of this world – the toys in the nursery – can never satisfy us.  The suffering still comes no matter how many toys we have.  What then?

Craig Groeschel

“If we’re going to become stronger in our faith, more committed to God, more in love with Jesus, then our beliefs will be tested.  They must be tested.  Henry Blackaby explains, “Will God ever ask you to do something you are not able to do?  The answer is yes.  All the time!” 

People will tell you that God won’t give you more than you can bear.  While they probably mean well, that’s simply not true.  The Bible does say that God won’t let you be tempted beyond what you can handle (1 Cor 10:13).  But He often gives you more than you can handle, so you can learn to depend wholly on Him.

Your times in the valley may not be pleasant, but it’s in the valleys of life that you grow closer to God and stronger in your faith.

Mountain tops can trick us.  When everything is golden, it is easy to forget God.

God knocked me off my horse 3 years ago.  He’s kept me off it the whole time.  There have been no mountain tops in those 3 years.  He is shaking, humbling, molding, breaking me.  He has a purpose in this far beyond what I can comprehend.

At one point this summer, I had a former business partner pass away at 50 from pancreatic cancer, my firm was being examined by our regulator, my wife spent 3+ weeks in the hospital in 4 visits, she lost 20% of her body weight and there was a day or two in there where I wasn’t sure she would survive.  My dad was also in the hospital and we had to negotiate and plan my daughter’s wedding.

Craig Groeschel

Often when we want God to do something, the solution wouldn’t require much of Him – a quick nod, a spoken word, an answered prayer – in the grand scheme of things, just a small miracle.  If only He would allow me to be rewarded for all my hard work!  Or just heal my sick child!  Or help my loved one overcome depression!  Or break my sexual addiction!  Or bring my prodigal child back home!  Or at least let me win the lottery!

As we grow to trust God, we must recognize what I consider to be some of the fundamentals of growing in the Christian faith: awe, respect, reverence, appreciation for God being God, acceptance of our limitations as human beings.

We can’t know everything or see into other people’s hearts.  And we sure can’t see ahead to how it all will unfold.  But God can.

Like a master story teller, He is crafting an epic in which He allows each of us to play a significant role.  There are no minor characters or bit players in God’s story.  We are all important.

He’ll never abandon us and he’s working everything for our good.

So, when we are suffering, ranting and raving about all the unfairness of life, we would do well to remember that there is so much more going on than we can see or understand from our limited perspective.  We’re only seeing a tiny sliver or a much bigger story, perhaps only one sentence or one paragraph on just a single page.

In the middle my storm this summer, I had zero certainty of how it would all unfold.  I didn’t know if my wife would survive.

But I can say with great confidence, God sustained me through that.  It could not have been done on my own.  And remember this from earlier … “I’m in control.  Success is mine.  I made it.  I’m beautiful.  I’m talented.  I made “this”.   This summer, there was NONE of that.

Utter — complete — dependence —- on Him.  And in that posture … God’s glory can come and rest upon you.

(part 2 in a moment…)

 

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Fear and hiding… why we pose…

here are the slides from this morning > Fear and hiding

Fear generally stems from three areas in our lives –

1) we were raised in a fearful environment by fearful parents … always worried about what could go wrong.  That spirit of fear was planted in us and we find ourselves today as worried about life as our parents were.  And… we find that this fear paralyzes us into a corner of seeking safety above any risk.  The “fear of fear itself” is debilitating.

2) control – we were probably raised in a controlling environment by controlling parents and their obsessive desire to control every outcome has taken root in us and as a kid growing up in that environment, we did our own thing to rebel from the control and find our freedom.  Oftentimes, that led to heartache of our own doing.  Or maybe, it has nothing to do with our parents.  Maybe, it is personal choices we made that brought on a lot of pain and somewhere along the way, we made an agreement to never be exposed again and so to accomplish that, we set out to radically control every possible outcome in our lives.  Whenever we sense there is something out of our control, fear rushes in.  Anxiety comes.  Anger follows.  We must have our way.

3) concealment – hiding.  We hide.  We’ve sinned, we’ve messed up and rather than confess it and release it, we hide it.  Bury it.  Pretend it didn’t happen.  Brush it off.  Pose.  Put on the mask that we don’t struggle, we have it all figured out, we don’t fear, we aren’t vulnerable, we didn’t make that mistake, it didn’t happen.  And then… it happens again.  The temptation rushes back to try it again.  The lies follow of no one will know”, “all your buddies are looking at porn”, or “you’ve got this under control, a few drinks every night won’t hurt”.  Rather than admit we’re weak, tempted or might have a problem, we stuff it down, rinse and repeat.  The cycle continues.  We bury ourselves further into the lies of “I’ve got this under control, no one needs to know about this” and then, the enemy pounds you with condemnation.  The big fear is “What if I am exposed?  What if everyone found out who the real me is?”  THAT giant must fall.

The enemy thrives in the darkness.  He never wants you to confess.  Giving into fear is expressing faith in the enemy.  Speaking of your weaknesses, your failures, your mistakes, owning them, coming clean, dropping the mask of the poser who has it all figured out … THAT is faith in the Lord.  As believers in Christ, why do we hide?  What do we have to hide?  What do we have to fear?  If we believe and profess our faith in Christ and believe in the power of the Cross and the healing of the resurrection … why would we ever again need to hide?

You may suffer from all three of the above.  You may have posed all your life.  You may have bought the lie that it is too late for you to change.  I’m telling  you that right now, right this very moment as you read this, your life can turn completely around this very second.  Right now… the giant of fear can fall in your life.  The poser can die.  It is never too late to be authentic.  In fact, it is in defiance of tyranny that you can stand right where you are, close your eyes, throw your hands up and confess your sins and lay them at the foot of the Cross.  Today … you can leave all that behind and in so doing, experience a sweet freedom you thought you’d never again experience.  You cannot slay the giant of fear on your own.  Some of this roots back to how you were raised as a kid and the patterns are baked into your life for 40,50 or 60 years.  But … Jesus.  Jesus can slay that giant right now, this very minute.  You can begin the process of letting go of your past and how you were raised and you can let go of the fear that consumes you and runs you life and you can let the Lord Jesus run your life from today forward.  You can let go of trying to control every future outcome and live today, for today trusting God with just today.  Will you surrender?  Will you give it all up today and drop the old self, the old patterns, the old failures and lay it all at the Cross?

Fear and your Promised Land

Why worship matters …

I’ve seen you move, come move the mountains and I believe, I’ll see you do it again.  You made a way, where there was no way and I believe, I’ll see you do it again.  Walking around these walls I thought by now they’d fall but you have never failed me yet.  Waiting for change to come, knowing the battle’s won, for you have never failed me yet.  Your promise still stands.  Great is your faithfulness.  I’m still in your hands.  This is my confidence, You’ve never failed me yet.  I know the night won’t last.  Your word will come to pass.  My heart will sing your praise again.  Jesus you’re still enough.

It matters.   So much.

The attack of the enemy will come.  We do not live in Eden.  There are giants in the land taunting us but we have to see beyond the giant.  We must cast our eyes upon the Victor.  We know the war is over – we know the the Winner.  Faith trumps fear – “yes, giant you are big and you taunt and yes, you can knock me down (if I let you) … BUT … I see beyond you and you’re already dead, you just don’t know it yet.  I do.  I’m looking past you to Jesus and He’s WAY bigger than you or anything you can throw at me.”

We win by faith.  We win by our worship.  We win by believing in our Promised Land. 

Fear is a giant – one of the most common giants that must fall.  Fear can taunt us and harm us.  Fear can get a foothold in our lives and begin to dominate us.  Fear can demoralize us and ultimately diminish God’s glory in our lives – i.e. the way we reflect God’s glory.  The way we show the world who God is and our ability to walk out our testimony – that’s what is lessened.

It doesn’t always look like fear.  Are you anxious, nervous, worried, stressed or feeling dread?  Are you tense or having stomach problems?  Is sleep very hard for you?  There’s a good chance fear is at work.  Fear chews away at our lives and erodes our sense of confidence and well-being.  It robs us of sleep and rest.  Fear blinds us and steals our praise.

Fear seeks to obscure our view of God and crush our confidence.  It will yell insults to try to convince us that we’re going to live with this giant the rest of our lives.

The opposite of fear is not being bold and courageous.  The opposite of fear is faith.  Faith beings by us saying, “I have confidence in God that He is bigger than this giant.”

Americans are the most medicated culture in the history of mankind.  We take prescriptions by the millions for worry, stress, anxiety, despair and terror – all cousins of fear.  Some get medication from their doctor and some from a bottle.  But the end goal is always the same.  We want to take the edge off.  We want to decompress.  We just want to forget about the things that are troubling us for a while.  We want to not be afraid.  The answer for fear is seldom as simple as saying, “fear, go away in Jesus’ name.”  Fear is symptom of a deeper cause.

Goliath was a champion.  He had a record, a history and that’s significant because a lot of us have a history with our giants.  These giants didn’t just show up this morning.  You’ve been battling some of these for years, decades.  Ever heard these voices?

Remember when you went to that retreat and promised how your life was going to change?  Guess what, it didn’t.

Remember that time you thought you were going to be all big and bold and you lit a candle by your bed and said, “the light of God is with me?”  Too bad sucker, I still won out on that day.

Remember that time you went to church and they had that message on life change, and you thought you felt something different that day?  Nope, nothing changed.  Won’t then.  Won’t now

That’s the voice of your Goliath.

He harassed them for 40 days and 40 nights.  He came out every morning and every night.  He started the day taunting, and he ended the day taunting.  He started the day demoralizing and diminishing, and he ended the day demoralizing and diminishing.  Giants are relentless.  They don’t take days off.

So, we must battle.  It isn’t one quick prayer and this is behind me.  No, he’s far too crafty for that.  He will come back.  This is daily.  It is drawing upon the Vine.  It is worship.  It is soaking in God’s Word.  It is daily conversation with Father.  It is preparing before you go into toxic environments, girding with prayer and inviting God in ahead of you.  It is a process.  Day by day.

God paid it all – for you – you are incredibly valuable.  You have a Promised Land – the area God created you for where you can thrive and cast glory to God.  The enemy is trying to dominate your thoughts, mind, will and emotions to keep you from seeing your creative value and seeing the price Heaven paid for you.  Bad fear is chronic and debilitating – that is not from God.  It’s a controlling spirit by the devil to keep us off our promised land.  Once I understand that isn’t me, but a separate identity, I can begin to take authority over it.

By believing this and pursuing our Promised Land, we keep our eyes on God and what He believes about us and there is no room for the roaring lion.  When he roars, we roar back!

Exposing the roaring lion of fear

“Behold, I give you the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; nothing will ever harm you.”   Luke 10:19

We have authority over him.

1 Peter – he prowls around seeking who he may devour – “may” not “can”. i.e. we’ve given him permission, an opening.

60% of believers don’t believe in the enemy – they have no grasp they’re being stalked.

Be sober, be alert … means stay disciplined.  The areas I let get out of control, are the areas where the attack will come.  He’s your adversary whether you like it or not.

He’s active. He’s coming to your territory trying to produce in you a mistake that will then give him an opportunity.  Do I fear him?  No.  But I should understand him.

Lions are nocturnal – you’re safe in the day but not at night.  It’s dangerous at night.  Darkness is the devil’s domain.  You’re safe in the light.  Sin is his domain and you can’t cast him off it.

Ephesians 5:9-15 (Instructions for believers)“Walk as children of light – for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth – discerning what is pleasing to the Lord.  Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead, expose them.  For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret.  Everything exposed by the light is made clear, for what makes everything clear is the light.  Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk – not as unwise people but as wise – making the most of the time, because the days are evil.”

Where two or more are gathered in His name, there Christ shall also be – i.e. don’t be a lone ranger.  Surround yourself with Godly people.  The devil will come at you but he won’t see you, he’ll see Jesus because they are in the spiritual realm.

You’re safe in Christian fellowship.  Satan is trying to provoke you to break off on your own.  Lions don’t attack the herd, they intimidate to try to get a weak one to break off alone.

Lions are territorial – don’t run from lions, they’ll kill you.  The purpose of the roar is to intimidate you so you’ll run away from his territory.

2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.”  There is good fear – see a rattlesnake and fear appears, you heed the warning and move away and the fear subsides.  That fear is temporary, protective and circumstantial.  It comes, it goes, it protects you.

Bad fear is chronic and debilitating – that is not from God.  It is a controlling spirit by the devil to keep us off our promised land.  It’s not my emotion.  It’s a demonic spirit trying to keep me off what God has promised me.  Once I stop dealing with fear as my emotion and my weakness and I begin to understand that is a separate identity from me, I can begin to take authority over it.  It comes saying “you’re going to fail, you’re going to embarrass yourself…” it tries to intimidate.

So, when that spirit of fear comes, what are we to do?

“I bind you spirit of fear in the name of Jesus and every lie you’re telling me.  You’re a demon spirit and you’re on my territory.  You’re standing on my promised land.  Not only am I not going to give you this land, I’m taking it back from you.”

You have a promised land.  It is a God-given destiny and as sure as you have that destiny, there is an enemy standing on your land roaring at you, screaming, “you’re not good enough, smart enough … who do you think you are?”  He’s stealthy.  He implants this fear but doesn’t tell us it is him – he makes us think it is us.  I’m fearful of people, I’m fearful of failure, I’m fearful of what other people think, I’m fearful of rejection”NO, you are NOT.  God hasn’t given you a spirit of fear.  It’s an add-on from the devil to try to control you.

It is time to expose the roaring lion and understand what he is up to. It’s time to take our land back. We have authority over him. Don’t run. Attack him. Run to the roar. He’s already been defeated. Kick him off your promised land and live your life as God intended you to live. Make a stand against a spirit of fear.

Prayer to break the power of fear …

“In the name of Jesus, I don’t have fear.  I’m not going to run from you.  I’m taking my territory back from you right now.  You’re standing on my promised land and I won’t rest until I have it back and you’re gone.  I bind your voice.  I bind your lies.  I bind your influence and in their place, I pray for a spirit of love, of power, and of sound mind.  God give me a spirit of love.  I want to be motivated by love, power and your wisdom.  I declare victory right now.  The devil will not devour me.  I’m the child of Almighty God.  I’m invested with divine authority and wherever I go, you go with me Lord Jesus.  Help me fulfill my perfect destiny in You. From today forward, when I hear that roar, I will run toward it and take authority over it and claim my promised land in Jesus name.”

Fear – how are you doing against it?

In the past week, how have you done battling fear in your life.  Is it there?  Do you even recognize it?  If you’re willing to take a look, I think you’ll be able to see places where fear has seized some of your territory and robbed you of life.

You have a Promised Land.  A divine plan for your life and fear is out to take that Promised Land away from you.  In many cases, it already has.

We’re going to take it back.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, of love and of sound judgment.”  2 Timothy 1:7

“I fear what other people think about me”.  “I fear I won’t succeed.”  “I’m fearful of failure.  “I’m fearful of rejection.”  NO you are NOT.  God hasn’t given you a spirit of fear.  It’s an add-on from the devil and he’s trying to control you.

We’re going after the roaring lion of fear this fall at ManSchool and we’ve got a great talk on Wednesday that will bless you life, break down walls and show you the way to say “ENOUGH” to fear.  It will open the path so you can take back your Promised Land and live the life God intended for you to live.

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.