Living outside of “self”

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Jesus’ sentences stand like quivering swords of flame because He did not come to bring peace but revolution.

The Gospel is a cutting-edge, rolling thunder, convulsive earthquake in the world of the human spirit.

In entering human spirit, God has shattered all previous conceptions of who God is.

The life He has planned for you is much like the life He lived.

He was not poor so that you may be rich.

He was not mocked so that you may be honored.

He was not laughed at so that you could be praised.

You are not to fill up what is wanting in the suffering of Christ.

It is a call to live outward.  It’s a reminder that we must die to “self” and live our lives outward in service to others.  It is a reminder that there is an eternal life.  There is a kingdom to come and in that kingdom, you will have a role to play just as you do in this life.

All you have to offer in this life is your soul.  It is the one gift you were put on this earth to offer others.  It isn’t about gathering all you can.  It is a call to give all of yourself away.

Coach Hugh Freeze – what will you do with your platform?

As a part of our 4-week Summer Series for manschool, yesterday we saw a great talk from Coach Hugh Freeze of Ole Miss.  I had the chance to hear this talk in person when he came to the Columbus FCA banquet and it was amazing.  I encourage you to invest 30 minutes of your time.  That’s right “Invest”.  Take the time to soak this in.

Our theme for the summer is emphasizing “Excurvatus Ex Se” – or a life lived outward.  We’ve spent a lot of time on wounds, our hang ups, unpacking some of the silted over channels of our souls to discover why life isn’t working and what Truth God wants to reveal to us.  All that’s good and worthy … however … what are we to do with it?  What is our call?  Is it to remain in introspection and discovery or is it to take those lessons and put them out into the ministry field.  Instead of living inward, we start living outward.

I believe it is time to shift the focus of our work towards the “outward”.

What’s your call?  What are you going to do with this life you have.  Time is short (we’ll hear from Andy Stanley next week on this) and God has a divine purpose for your life waaaaay beyond the wounds of our past.  It’s time to quit looking out of that narrow rear-view mirror of our past to the wide open road of our future.  There is a world out there desperately lost and desperately in need of our Savior.

This is a great talk and I hope you will listen to it.  Essentially he reminds us that each of us has a platform.  His is that of a football coach but as he says, whether you’re a coach, CEO, school teacher or the lady who brings warm chocolate chips weekly to the Ole Miss team, we all have that “thing” that is our platform to minister.

Jesus said, “I love you” in the parking lot of Tractor Supply…

In my summer of adventuring, I had a doozy on Saturday.  I had to replace a big part on a tractor and set out early to get it done.  By 10am it was already hotter than hades and I realized I could not budge the bolts I needed to remove to make the swap.  So I headed for Tractor Supply to get some help.  It’s really quite freeing to ask for help by the way.  After about five hours the new part was in place and all was well.  I was covered from head to toe in sweat, grease and grime.  It was great.

But something remarkable happened in the parking lot at Tractor Supply.

When I pulled in, an older man was standing in front of my truck talking to a girl a few spaces down who had her car door open smoking a cigarette.  It was a tight spot to pull in but the place was full.  We waived me into my spot.  I got out of the truck and went around behind the truck and realized he’d walked to my driver’s side and he was still talking to me.  As I came back around the other side he approached me, all smiles and just a chattering away.  As it turns out, he thought I looked just like his “boss man”, a local attorney (who I know).  He apologized and just a kept on talking about that he’d worked for him for 38 years doing pretty much anything he needed on his farm, running a bush hog, tending to cattle, etc.  He said he sure was a nice man.  I agreed.

I wished him a good day and went in the store.  About 20 minutes later I came walking back out and found two five dollar bills laying on the curb.  I picked them up and turned around to go in the store and realized there were about 50 people in there and it would be nearly impossible to identify the rightful owner of that cash.  So I put it in my pocket and headed back to my truck.  As I walked by a small truck to get in mine, I heard a honk and that gentleman had seen me, reached over and honked.  As I sat down I looked over and he was inside the cab of the truck just waiving and waiving at me.  I pulled out, rolled down my window and waived back.

I pulled around the store and was heading out and just as sure as I’m typing this, I heard, “Go back and give him that money.  You don’t need it.  He does.”  I whipped around and pulled back to my spot.  By this point, he was out of the truck helping his boss for the day load up dog food and other assorted items.  I edged up next to him and nudged him and he turned and just started smiling that same big ole smile.  “Here.  I found this on the parking lot.  Someone dropped it and I had no way to identify the rightful owner.  I want you to have it.  Go and buy yourself a nice lunch today.” 

His smile got even bigger and he started laughing a joyful laugh.  “Aw man, I don’t know what to say.  God bless you.  God bless you.  I just don’t know what to say.  I love you.”  I laughed with him and told him God had told me to give him that money and that it paid to be kind to people.  He had been kind to me earlier and God wanted to thank him.  He said, “Oh yes sir, it sure does pay to be kind to folks.  Thank you again.”   Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

I drove away thinking, “Jesus just told me He loves me”.

OK so maybe I should have been more aggressive in finding the rightful owner of that $10.  To whoever it was, take heart, your misfortune blessed someone else.  I don’t know what was the right thing to do in that moment but I know this, I heard God and followed His nudge and through it all, I am convinced of this, I heard Jesus tell me in a very hot Tractor Supply parking lot, “I love you.”

Excurvatus Ex Se A life lived outward.

Guardrails with money

The vast majority of the time when Andy is approached with…“umm, I need to come talk to you about something” or “My wife and I have a problem” it is almost always (he estimates 90% of the time) about either sex or money.  And the truth is, if you were totally honest with yourself right now, for most of us, the biggest regrets we have in life involve either sex or money.  Yet the culture totally ignores the Bible’s teachings on both these issues dismissing them as old school, out of touch or simply not applicable to my life.  God focuses on these and today, specifically money, because it is about our devotion.  Most of us don’t struggle with following the devil but so many of us fall prey to failure in the areas of money or sex and simply put, it is because these areas tend to get our devotion.  What God fights against is not so much the enemy and his minions but rather our temptation to turn and be devoted to the “other gods” of sex and money.

The real internal struggle for you and me is “do I trust my stuff or do I trust God?”  Can I let go of holding onto stuff, holding onto money, worrying about the future and can I give all that over to God?  For so many of us, money becomes the area where we say, “God I will be devoted to you but I’m going to maintain control of my money”.

Matthew 6:24 – “no one can serve two masters – you can’t serve both God and money” so there is this tension there right in between God and money.  Go on, admit it, you feel it.  God’s chief competitor truly is “stuff”.  It is what so many of us worship.

There are generally two types of people – “consumption” = you consume every dollar that comes in or “hoarder” = “what about?  what if?”  We tend to call these the “spender” and the “saver” and usually in marriage, one is a spender and one is a saver.  And catch this – both are very self-centered.  Both are fueled by greed.  The consumption person lives with the assumption that is all for my immediate consumption.  The saver isn’t truly any more noble.  All he/she is doing is stashing and hoarding it now so he/she can be sure it will be there way off in the future for his/her…consumption.

The key to combating this challenge we all face is so easy.  It’s a simple habit we can develop to allow God to rule our life and shift our devotion to Him.  The key is this “GIVE.  SAVE.  LIVE”.  Where with every dollar that comes in you give, you save and then you live.  Give away the first 10% of every dollar that comes in.  This is teaching your flesh that you will not be ruled by money.  Give it back to God where it all came from to start with.  Then, save.  He employs the 10/10/80 rule – give 10%, save 10% and then live on 80%.

Imagine if right now, you got a 20% pay cut.  Instead of making $2,500 every two weeks, you were making $2,000 every two weeks.  You just “lost” $1,000 a month of take home pay.  What would you do?  You’d have to make some tough choices and cut out a lot of things you previously thought you “had” to have.  But odds are, you could do it.  You could find a way to live on 80% of your pay.  And suddenly, that next big screen TV that you were almost about to buy and finance on a note at BestBuy would disappear as a “must have” thing.  You’d probably learn to be content with the TV you have right now.

The point is this – if you will give away 10% of your pay and save 10% of your pay you will begin to shift your mindset and your heart away from letting the stuff you own, own you.  It is an act of radical obedience to give away 10% to the Kingdom and trust God is going to provide what you need but the thing is, God knows your greatest temptation is the consumption of stuff.  He knows the thing you most struggle with is that “If only I had ____ I would be happy”.  He knows your heart can never find contentment in more stuff and the obedient act of giving is the way – perhaps the only way – to defeat this beast we all battle.

You are either devoted to God or devoted to money/stuff.  You cannot – as in can not – serve both.  Don’t let money steal your peace, steal your joy and consume your thinking.  “For the pagans run after these things” Matthew 6:32

Later on he says, “and your Heavenly Father knows you need these things”.  And that’s key – God knows you have to educate your children, pay for a wedding, provide for your family, pay the power bill, etc.  Can you trust Him to provide for you?  Deep down, we don’t think God knows we have these needs so we take control of the worrying over them.  Matthew 6:33 “but seek first His kingdom, His righteousness and these things will be given to you as well.”

So no, this isn’t some prosperity gospel message, this is rather a divorcing of our devotion to stuff, our devotion to “me, me, me” and “gimme, gimme” and settling into a place of contentment and trust.  Just think about the stark contrast of the two paths we can take, one, the tyranny of chasing after stuff, keeping up with the Joneses vs. the second, those two simple words of contentment and trust.  Which path gives you heartburn?  Which path gives you peace?

Remember, we either take the path of discipline or the path of regret.  10/10/80 is discipline.  Living at 105% of your pay, flipping from credit card to credit card is the path of regret.

Andy says that most people discover the power of 10/10/80, Give, Save, Live usually only after the bottom falls out and they crash against the rocks.  As the church helps them restore themselves and gets them on this 10/10/80 plan helping them reorder their lives; what happens almost every single time is they will come back and say, “I started giving, I started saving and my spending on me fell off and I am more content than I’ve ever been”.

10/10/80 is a guardrail.  Most of us live at 100% of our pay or 103% or 105% of our pay.  We teeter on the edge and live paycheck to paycheck and hope nothing goes wrong.  We don’t give money to the Kingdom because we can’t afford to.  In this case, you have already stepped over the guardrail and you are walking on the very edge of financial disaster.  Today is the day to take some steps back away from the cliff and toward the guardrails.  Make some tough choices.  Cut the cable, stop eating out, be content with the phone you have, cut up credit cards and pay off debt as fast as you can.  With each step like this, you are moving farther and farther away from the cliff and you’ll soon be on the safe side of the guardrail.  Keep going.  Put another 10 feet from you and the rail.  Live on 80% of your pay.  Give 10%.  Save 10% (or use that 10% exclusively for debt elimination and then save) and live on 80%.  You will not regret employing this guardrail in your lives and it will radically reorder your life and break your devotion to stuff so your eyes and devotion may rest upon the Lord.

LiveUP!

what will you create?

here are the slides from today  … wide awake – create  there is some good info in these slides that I won’t cover below so take a look.

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You have the ability to create.  You were created to create.  To vision.  To dream and then act.  So let’s get that out of way right up front, this is for you.  You can create.  You are a creative.  Don’t believe the lie that you aren’t.  You are.  We all are.

Gary Player is one of the best golfers in history.  But his story is much deeper than golf.  He’s an avid rancher and golf course designer.  On his South African ranch, he built steps in a mountain so he can climb the mountain.  His own, personal “stair master”.  He does 1,200 sit ups a day…with a 100 pound weight on his chest.  He’s 77 years old.  70% vegetarian and he wants to get to 85%.  He eats no bacon, no sausage, no butter.  “If you don’t watch you eat, you’ve had it. Period.”  He loves America but says obesity is going to kill the American dream if we’re not careful.  At 77 years old, he takes no medicine at all.  Not one pill.   Would you give “anything” to look/feel like Gary Player at 77?

Gary Player “created” this life.  He had this vision of what he wanted his life to become and it was so compelling that it got him up at 5am every day to hit thousands of range balls – hit so many that his hands bled.  Every day.  He had this vision for being in fantastic shape and so he was caught lifting weights before the US Open back in the 60’s.  No one understood him.  But he understood where he was going and here 50 years later, he’s a rock, a fortress of a man.

So when we say, “I’d give anything to look like Gary Player when I’m 77.”  or  “I’d give anything to have that life”.  Would I really?  Really?  McManus says this in Wide Awake…

“Greatness is not simply the result of genetics but hard work. Often, the person who has the most luck is the person who won’t quit. To live a life that takes your breath away, you have to be willing to get winded. While God created through a word, we create through work. God creates by simply speaking, we create by carefully listening. There is an inner voice that calls and compels us to create. When we know what to do, we must then act on that truth. Every great life begins at the same place – the beginning.”

To live a life that takes your breath away, you have to be willing to get winded.

If you have a dream of what your life can become, you’re going to have to work at it.  God’s just not going to hand it to you.  We need to live that dream.  Once you grasp it, once you have an idea of what you can become, it will overtake you.  It will warp you.  You will not sleep like a baby because you can’t get this dream off your mind.  It will spring you out of bed early in the morning.

And despite what you may think, you can live a life worth remembering.  It is there for all of us.  Not to draw attention to ourselves.  We shouldn’t be driven to achieving fame but rather to greatness.  Doing something in life that will effect the entire course of human history.   And just when you think, “it’s impossible for me to effect human history”, consider this … effecting one life can impact history.  You can change the course of another man’s life and that can change history.

So a few of us went on Sunday morning to work at a man’s home that had two huge oaks fall on it a few weeks ago.  They almost destroyed the house and he has no insurance. By the time we got there, Ron Lucas and others had helped him get the trees off the house and get his roof repaired but the back yard is a disaster.

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We worked for a few hours putting chain saws to what we could.  We moved tons of timber out and made good progress but as you can see, the yard is still a mess and there are two huge trees we couldn’t tackle.  He was so appreciative and thankful for the outpouring of undeserved grace.

The whole time I was working this dream compelled me to the question of “what if”?  What could we create for this man?  I visioned getting those big trees out of there by calling in some favors of a tree company.  Of getting in there and clearing out all the overgrowth.  Of building him a new fence.  Of sodding his backyard and maybe building him a patio around that outdoor fire pit his Dad built for him.  Of some flower beds.  Of fixing his front yard and taking down the dead tree there.  Of fixing his outdoor shed.  In my mind I was painting this image of creating him a new yard, of giving this man some hope so when he comes home from a hard day framing other people’s new homes, he can take a lot of pride in his home.

It’s a dream.  It is creating.  It is a bunch of us living beyond self to radically impact an undeserving soul.  It compels me.  I can’t get it out of my mind.  It needs to happen.  I believe that is just one small example of what McManus is talking about in this chapter.

So you see it doesn’t have to be inventing the next Google or becoming a millionaire.  Money has nothing to do with this.  This is ministry.  If you’re driven by the prospects of billions, it’s really all about self.  If you’re driven by something that creates good for others, then that’s something altogether different.  This last quote from McManus sums it up so well…

“God designed you to be an expression of his goodness. Every time you perform a loving act; every time you choose an act of mercy, kindness, and servanthood; every time you alleviate human suffering and bring hope and joy into a person’s life, you’ve expanded the good and increased the honor God receives for creating you in his image. God loves when his children reflect his character. What matters to God is the good we do toward others on his behalf.”

That’s how we LiveUP!

How much do you love your boots? Generosity.

Here are the slides from last week’s talk on generosity from McManus’ book UPrising…  uprising 10 generosity

I have to tell you, this study has been so good that we will do this again in the future.  There is so much rich material and we feel like we only scratched the surface.

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The goal of this entire process is a movement towards wholeness.  Wholeness comes out of a spirit of gratitude which we’ve touched on in previous posts but as we move towards wholeness,  what is unleashed is generosity.  Many of us are in captivity and for a lot of us, that captivity comes out of a spirit of greed.  To be truly free, truly alive, we’re going to have to deal with this issue of greed.

Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street famously said, “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”  No, it isn’t.  Greed consumes.  Greed tells us we aren’t content.  Greed tells us others have it better than we do.  Greed will leave you bitter and the more you take, the more you consume, the more the monster is fed.  And by the way, you don’t own your things, they own you.  The more you possess, the more they possess you.

But we are on a quest for nobility and wholeness and the end game is that we’d learn to be generous people, to become instruments of good and that God would unleash such generosity in us that the world will never be the same again.

I can write pages and pages on this lesson on generosity but I am going to instead give you the bottom line…

Are you willing to give up your boots?

What do I mean?  McManus, at the end of this talk, challenges his people to do three things…

1)  Give 10% of their income to Mosaic Church – 10% isn’t the goal, its our starting point of giving

2)  Contribute to a humanitarian project – contribute your money and your time – go to Africa, India, Columbia, etc.

3)  Give your shoes away and go home barefooted

What?  He called his members up front, if so moved, to walk up and turn in their shoes that would then be given to ministries supplying shoes to the homeless.  And…they did.  All of them.  The entire church came forward and took off their shoes and hit the streets of LA barefooted.  It was amazing to see.

As I was watching this at home, I showed it to Shannon and her jaw dropped.  I said, “What about you, could you do that at CCC?  Could you give up your shoes?”  And she said, “No, I’m not sure I could do that.  What about you?  What if you had to give up your boots?”

Whoa.  My boots?  Not my boots.  I love my boots.  I only have one pair and I wear them all the time.  I really don’t want to give up my boots, they’re mine and they fit me.  I’ve broken them in.  They’re mine.

And there it is.  God so loved the world that He gave up His only Son as a sacrifice.  And I am not willing to give up my boots.

What about you?  Are you willing to give your “boots” on the alter?  What is it that God is calling you to do?  What ministry?  What mission trip?  How much giving – the question isn’t “how much money do you make” but rather, “how much are you giving away?”

Go back and read the first few chapters of David Platt’s book Radical if you want to understand this concept further.  Members of his church sold their homes near the Country Club to move to the inner city.  Members gave up their medical practices to go into full-time mission work.  They gave up their boots.

What about you?  Are you willing to give up your boots?  Are you willing to embrace radical generosity right now?

LiveUP!   LiveFree