He prepares a table before me…

Here is the Louie Giglio talk we watched (again!) this morning.  I started the tape at about 17 minutes.  I encourage you to watch this again.  I strongly encourage you to watch this with you wife.  Put the kids to bed, turn off the TV and invest in the spirituality of your marriage and in so doing, build a deeper level of intimacy with her.

The talk is so good, I can hardly put words to it.

In the context of his talk, I encourage you to go and read this blog post…

A Letter To Satan Concerning My Daughter’s Seizures.

Morgan Cheek writes powerfully on this blog of the journey God has taken her and her husband on as they raise twin girls with severe genetic issues.  (Her husband Hugh is from Columbus).  This is a journey they cannot escape.  There is no “prosperity Gospel” to deliver them from this.  Great pain accompanies their journey.  But God.  But God is present with them.  He walks with them and prepares a table before them in the presence of their enemies.  The situation may never turn around.  God never promises us a pain free life in this fallen world.  It does not make our God … not good.  He is good.  He is present.  They are surrounded by all sorts of enemies but God is present and He has prepared a table for them and He is enough.  He is all and He is enough.  Read the blog post and see how Morgan battles the enemy by calling out his lies and reading back to him scripture and Truth he cannot deny and will flee from.  In so doing all this, Morgan is not giving the enemy a seat at her table.  She’s locked tight her eyes on the Creator of these precious girls and the comfort and provision of God is all she needs.

Lastly, tying in with all of this … what is it that God wants from you?  What does he want?  I’ve talked to you about my “high horse”.   Here’s our buddy Vlad on his “high horse” but you know what, it’s us.  We’ve got life figured out.  We’re in control.  We always have the answers or we pose acting as if we do.

And if you’re ever so lucky, God will come along occasionally and knock you off that horse.  Here is how it starts …

and how it ends …

and Praise God!  Now you’re humbled and you are in a place where you can look at your life in a fresh way and now you’re able to listen.  So here is how life looks …

These nice little boxes tucked up on the shelves.  Each of those boxes are the things we “control” – career, 401(k), home, wife, kids, sex life, our time, our money, our stuff.  As life goes along, we manage these things, take control of them, pretty them up, make them appear as if all is perfectly in order.  Perhaps family is the best of these – pretty wife, two perfect kids, right schools, right attitudes, “everything just seems to work out for them”.  Life’s good.  “I’ve got this under control and life figured out”.

BOOM.  High horse time.

My daughter turns up pregnant.  God prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies and if I will just sit at the table with Him and lock tight on Him, He has me.  But no, I turn away.  I turn to my shelves.  I take these things and take control of them and get busy getting the shelves of my life in perfect order so all the world will look and see “wow, he has it figured out”.  The enemy will strike here.  He won’t play fair.  He’ll even use scripture to trick us.  “You’re just being a good steward of the talents God’s giving you.”  You see, even in that, he’s tricking us to turn from God and think “I can do this on my own”.  The liar tells you that “you don’t need God,  you’ve got this”.  

So, enough time goes by and I’m lulled to sleep and my pretty little life, all tucked nice and neatly up on those shelves gets blown up when my daughter turned up pregnant.  Not only was she pregnant, she moved in with the boy and a way of life far removed from the home she grew up in. What then?  What of the pretty little family all nice and neat?  Five weeks later, her older sister told us she was pregnant too.  Double Boom.  Face plant off the high horse into the mud.  The perfect little family was now being rocked.  The facade was broken.

I will say that through all of this, we’ve been humbled.  On December 1, we thought “there is no way we’re ever going to make it through this.”  45 days later with both of them pregnant, now we really knew, “there is no way we can do this”.  But God.  God has turned this mess into a miracle.  What seemed insurmountable four months ago has passed.  God got us through it.  We walked those days in a way we’d never walked before with God.  Will our “perfect” little life ever be “perfect” again?  No.  But you know what, now that I look back, I don’t want that kind of perfect.  I want the God perfect.  I want to give it ALL to Him – “Lord do with all this whatever You will”.  I never again want to walk another day up on a high horse thinking I’ve got it all figured out.  I want to walk my days the way we did in the worst of that storm when each day was radically dependent on God showing up.

So my question to you is simple – What does God want from you? 

God wants it all – your time, your money, your sex life, your kids, wife, job, retirement “plan” – the whole thing.  We want to keep control of most of this up on our shelves – we turn our back on God and his table and turn to our shelves saying “No God, I’ve got these things under control, I just need you over here in this other area”.  Nope.  Oh no.  God wants it all.  The more stuff you keep away from God up on your shelves as you fine tune, shine, polish and present as perfect … the more idols you’re worshiping and the less you’re locked tight on Him.

Morgan Cheek has no choice.  She cannot “do” being a Mama to those two little girls alone.  She’s desperate for a Savior and she’s seated at the table He has prepared for her and those girls in the midst of her enemies.  The road ahead looks daunting and it is but in the swirling vortex of the enemies that surround her, there is a table and The Good King prepared it and sits there with her.

Push into this.  What does this say to you?  Where are you in this.  

Let me hear from you.

 

 

Dealing with the effects of suffering

Suffering – we hate it, but it is an inescapable part of this gift of life.  True, some suffer more deeply than others, but we will ALL experience suffering in some form or another…

Natural disasters.  Place, time, circumstances of one’s birth; where we live.  Economic difficulties.  Accidents.  Sickness, disease.  Death.

Suffering is a given for all who live in this world, even we who follow Jesus.   In fact, we may at times face even greater suffering BECAUSE of our faith.

Yes, God allows suffering in His world BUT . . . God never desires suffering to bring brokenness.  He is always present and always at work to redeem the impact of suffering in our lives.  Notice, first you suffer, then you’re broken and then… redemption!

Satan’s strategy is to get us stuck in one of two deceptive distortions:

I become consumed with myself.  I am not good.  I am not loved.  I don’t matter.  I become consumed with my fear, my pain, my shame, my grief.  I turn inward and isolate myself – from God and others.  Something is wrong with ME.

I become consumed with God as my adversary.  God is not good.  He is not loving.  He is not able.  He is absent.  He is not fair.  There is a progression in this from questions to accusations to judgment of Him. Something is wrong with GOD.

Job, a righteous man who loves God, goes through incredible suffering (at the hand of Satan).  He truly loses everyone, everything, even his own health.  Interestingly, God told Satan, “You can’t take his life”.  That’s a powerful truth in our lives – he may take all my stuff but he can never take my soul!  Insights from Job on dealing with suffering:

1. We live in a world at war.  Evil is real!  We have an enemy who is bent on destroying all that is good.

2. Both the righteous and the wicked will suffer.

3. There will be times we don’t understand why we are suffering.  God never actually explains to Job why he is suffering.

4. Theological answers don’t always help.  It’s a person’s heart that is largely under assault; not their head.  People just need others to be present, listening, caring.  They want to know they are not alone.

5. There is a bigger story than our suffering. God is always at work.  His timing may be very different from our expectations, but He is engaged.  Redemption is      His glory.  He sees where things are going; we only see where they are.

This is so encouraging for your soul…

So we’re not giving up.  How could we!  Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.  These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us.  There’s far more here than meets the eye.  The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow.  But the things we can’t see now will last forever.    2 Corinthians 4: 16-18 MSG

6. Peace and healing come in our suffering when we “SEE” God like Job did  (42:1-5)

Lastly, the transformation of Job looked like this …

He moved from pride to humility.

From entitlement to “I deserve nothing”.

He went from talking about God to listening to Him.

From questioning God to trusting Him.

From accusing God to worshiping Him.

“me” has to die (part 2)

The root of all sin is “me”.  It is self.  It is your flesh.  It is the “immediate”.  It explains why we have all this credit card debt.  “I want it, I get it, I figure out how to pay for it later”.  I justify.  I rationalize.  “I need this”.  “I deserve this”.  “Why can he have a 70 inch HDTV but I can’t?”  “Everyone else does this, why can’t I?”

Go back and re-read that first paragraph and look at all the I’s.   Me, me, me, it’s all about me.  That’s a pathway to death.  Living for “me” is sin and it’ll take you places you never wanted to go and extract a cost from you that you never wanted to pay.

Me-first explains why we don’t tithe.  Tithing is a radical statement of faith that my money will not own me.  By giving it away (giving first), I am standing in defiance of “me first” and my flesh.  I’m radically surrendering Lordship of my money over to God.  It is surrender.

Surrender is the very opposite of sin/me/flesh.  Surrender is Lordship.  It is acknowledging I am not master of my life and in fact, if left unchecked, my flesh will consume my life and all those around me that I love.  Surrender is acknowledging that if left to my own devices, I’d consume like locusts.  Surrender is admitting you’re weak.  It’s a beautiful thing.   In my weakness, God is strong.  

Some guys can drink and escape the risks.  Others of us have no business drinking.  It’s too wide an open door.  There is too much risk.  Maybe alcoholism runs in your family and you’ve bought the lie that you’re immune to the risks.  No one is immune to risk.  We have an enemy who does not fight fair and is the master of all lies and if you don’t think you’ll ever get hooked, you’re buying a lie. Some guys don’t really struggle with pornography.  But others of us know it is a vast weak spot and if tempted, we will take the bait.  In truth, no man is immune to it.  If you’ve ever looked at it, you struggle with it.  If you’ve ever looked at it, there is a temptation to go back.  That’s what Satan does.  His hooks cut deep and have big barbs on them.  Getting them out of your flesh is hard.

Sexual temptation, pornography, sending Facebook friend requests to pretty neighbors, flirting, wondering/wandering is “me”.  Taking a few drinks every night to numb the pain and escape.  Toys. Overspending.  Overeating.  Carrying around rage, envy, hatred, comparison, jealousy.  These are all about me and my needs and finding stimulation elsewhere from God.

Satan will use any and all to take you down.  “Be on alert, your enemy, the Devil, prowls around like a hungry lion looking for someone to devour.”  Flirt with that pretty sales rep who calls on you and think you’ve above it?  Don’t kid yourself.  He knows your weaknesses and he’s just looking for an open door.  “Please Bubba, please give me an open door, just take a second look, send her a text, send her a friend request, agree to go to lunch with her.  It won’t hurt anyone.”  He’s prowling around and you may be his lunch.

Go back and look at the post from October 5, 2016.  Watch the Louie Giglio talk again.  Remember that talk.  Don’t forget it.  God prepares a table for you in the midst of your enemies.  (don’t kid yourself, God himself is telling you that your enemies surround you)  The table is there.  There is all this chaos swirling around — it’s just you and God.  He wants you focused on Him.  His provision is there.  Just keep your eyes on Him.  Those temptations will come and it is when you turn in your chair from facing God and start engaging in those conversations in the chaos is when you get in trouble.  “Self” is going to want to turn to those temptations.  “Me” is going to get bored with God and turn to the shiny lures.

“Me” … has to die.  Battling sin is first acknowledging it and second, repenting it.  I must first own it without any rationalizing or justifying.  There is no justifying sin.  Then, I must turn from it.  Repent = turn from.  180 degree U-turn.  Flee from it.  Run.  Quit drinking.  Be willing to go get help if you need it.  Own it.  Close your Facebook account.  Put the filters on your laptop and give your wife full access to it and your phone.  Never, ever go to lunch or dinner with another woman.  Purge any and all avenues that are potentially open doors.

Will it be fun?  No.  Is it needed?  Absolutely.  If you want God to restore, you’re going to have to take some bold steps.  He will meet you there.  All this mess in your life?  God can turn a mess into a miracle.  You just have to be willing to kill “me”.  Listen to this song and especially John Piper’s words in the middle of it.  God’s slaying of “me” is serving a purpose.  He’s not asking anything of you that His Son hasn’t overcome.  God is calling us to slay self so He can work His Divine purpose in and through our lives.  Remember in your weakness, He is strong…

Manschool starts back Jan 25th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Humility & Grace and a final challenge for you…

Humility is the primary virtue God looks for when He chooses someone to advance His kingdom.

Philippians 2:3-10 —  “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.  Everyone should look out not only for their own interests, but also for the interests of others.  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 on a cross.”

Humility is ultimately expressed by choosing the posture of a servant.  The servant’s ultimate act of humility is they make their life a sacrifice for the good of others.  Jesus teaches us that a leader should serve his people.  But more than that, He teaches us a view of God that radically transforms our thinking.  Up until this moment in history, the gods were gods of power, might, fury and wisdom.  Jesus revealed that God is the purest form of humility.  Servant wasn’t new to God.  Humility was the path of God.

Matthew 11:29 — “Take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.”   The heart of God is gentle and humble.  God is a servant.  This is the quality of God we desire the least.  Servanthood is not an elevated status.  We think it is beneath God and we hope it is beneath us.

So, if this is who God is, it makes sense who He will choose and that is, the person who chooses the heart of God, he who chooses to be humble of spiritJames 4 – “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”  Humility is the attribute at the core God is looking for when He is choosing people.  Moses was chosen by God not because he was the most skilled but … Numbers 12:3 – “Moses was more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.”

God will not reject you if you’re too messed up.  You may be a mess but God does amazing things through messy people.  Broken?  God takes broken people and does amazing things through them.  Lifetime of failure?  God will not oppose you because you’re a failure, broken, not educated enough, not talented enough but God will shelve you… if you’re too proud.  God rejects the arrogant, not the sinful.

We want to be great and Jesus has a process for that  —  it is to be the servant of all.  That’s OK.  I’m happy to be a servant for now so that I can get to be great.  “if you want to be first, you must be last.”  Yes!  I’ll be last … so I can be first.  But that isn’t what Jesus means.  We’re all OK with this as long as it looks like a Jesus J-curve.  That is, I’m willing to be a servant and go down … for a while … as long as the curve turns and I eventually get to be great.

                                                                                Eventually

jcurve

  “least…last…servant”

But Jesus thinks greatness is servanthood.  Humility is the final destination.  Choosing to be last, is first.  The seat that chooses humility, servanthood and sacrifice is the seat of most honor.  The most extraordinary thing Jesus taught us about humility is that God is humble and because we’re created in His image and likeness, our souls thrive in humility.

It is only the humble that God entrusts with His power and glory.

The “incurvatus” man – that man that is curved in upon himself, focused on his needs, his desires, his agenda, his pain, his circumstances – that man is arrogant, self-centered, self-advancing.  The Excurvatus man – that man that is living outward for others, emptying himself so others can advance – at his core, when you meet a man like that, you will know his humility.  The brash, arrogant, self-promoting man seems to be the man that gets ahead in this life.  Yet, it is the humble man, the man that chooses the seat of least honor, that gives his money and talents away so others can advance, it is that man who gets “ahead” in the Kingdom to come.  It is that man who lives out and understands grace.  He understands all power is bestowed and from dirt he came and to the dirt he will return.  He knows God’s favor upon him is of no doing of his own.  He didn’t earn it.  It was given to him, freely by a God that humbled Himself even to death upon the Cross.

In the movie Les Miserables, we see such a picture.  A picture of grace.  Jean Val Jean is a criminal. He toils away for 19 years in a rock quarry of his sin.  He’s in the darkness.  He’s encouraged to knock upon a certain door and the Bishop answers the door and invites him in.  He is fed and given a bed for the night but Jean turns back to his sin despite God’s pursuit of him.  He steals the silver and leaves the light and enters back into darkness.  Later he is arrested and brought back to the Bishop (God).  He is redeemed.  Set free.  The treasure freely given to him.  Ransomed from a life of fear and hatred.

And so men, as we end The Best of Manschool, here is the call to you.  What will you do? What will you be?  The bag of silver has been thrust back into your chest.  Given to you. Unearned.  Unmerited favor just handed to you.  Before, you were a criminal.  We all were. We toiled away in our sin and God opened the door and let us in and blessed us with a bag of silver (salvation).  Now, I must ask you … what are you going to do with it?  Will your life from this day forward be all about you and your advancement … or … will you take up the heart of a servant and willingly, freely, happily give up all the treasure of this temporary world so you can go forth and advance the Kingdom of God?  

Will you?

Your wife as your “lifesaver”

David Burnell gave a powerful testimony about his marriage and life this morning and he urged us on to the higher standard.  He challenged us to vulnerability with our wives.  He taught us about his guardrails, how he’s shared those with his wife and how he needs her help in accountability to those.  It was beautiful.  He share this from the RH daily reading…

Ezer Kenegdo | Ransomed Heart Ministries<!–
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Eve is given to Adam as his ezer kenegdoor as many translations have it, his “help meet” or “helper.”  Doesn’t sound like much, does it? It makes me think of Hamburger Helper.  But Robert Alter says this is “a notoriously difficult word to translate.”  It means something far more powerful than just “helper”; it means lifesaver.”  The phrase is only used elsewhere of God, when you need him to come through for you desperately. “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you” (Deut. 33:26). 

Eve is a life giver; she is Adam’s ally.  It is to both of them that the charter for adventure is given.  It will take both of them to sustain life. And they will both need to fight together.

Warfare

Today was intense.  Rather than pasting in my notes, I’m just going to speak to you from my heart.  First, I apologize for bringing politics into this discussion.  The point I made could have been made without ever mentioning the word politics.  Lesson learned.  I will speak from my heart on this (so you don’t have to agree with this, it is my perspective) — I have seen  a radical change in our culture over the past 10 years.  We seem to embrace Islam and do whatever we can to welcome it under the veil of “freedom of religion” while at the same time, it seems Christianity is under assault.  Apparently, freedom of religion doesn’t apply to Christianity.  This should not surprise us.  Jesus warned us that we’d be despised because He was despised.  We have welcomed and embraced the homosexual agenda, legalized gay marriage, encouraged elementary schools to welcome and make comfortable children who now self-indentify as transsexuals.   Political correctness has consumed America.  If we offend anyone with our beliefs, we are bigots.  Michael Yousef, the Atlanta pastor who is a native Egyptian, has said that Islam’s strategy to “invade” America would be to play upon American’s repulsion of being called intolerant.  That Americans will do whatever is necessary to avoid being called intolerant.  He said this about 15 years ago long before “political correctness” became the buzzword.  By playing on our fear of being considered intolerant, Islam knew it could capitalize on this to gain favor in America.  It is working.  What is going on?  Why does it feel like this fog of deception is swallowing up America?  Exactly.  The enemy is a liar and his operating strategy is distortion.  He twists and lies and these clouds of deception come upon us.  It is warfare.  We are seeing all of this play out in front of us.  To my point this morning, I can see (again, it’s my opinion) that we could be the verge of the next 10 years being about a war on manhood in America.  That men are the “the problem”.  This can be the police, the CEO’s, big corporations, Wall Street, the insurance companies, etc. that we could be seeing the start of the next phase of the war and the root of it is coming after manhood.  That through the police or Wall Street or CEO’s, that men have ruined this country and must now take a back seat.  I may be wrong.  All I wanted to say this morning — in the context of talking about spiritual warfare in a room full of men — is that we just need to be braced for it.  Be on alert.  It would seem to make sense that this could be where the enemy tries to take this battle.  We simply should not be surprised to see another wave of the attack and a further breaking down of what we hold dear.

And so, we’re back to warfare.  1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”   James 4:7-8 says, Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God an he will come near to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”  Verse 11 says, Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up”.    (bold/underline my emphasis)

Remember back the Louie Giglio talk.  Warfare is coming at you.  The enemies are all around you.  Don’t be surprised because the attack is coming.  Satan doesn’t eat, he doesn’t sleep, he doesn’t chill out at the beach or the TV.  All he does is attack.  24/7 he exists to take you out.  He doesn’t play fair.  He reads your mail.  He knows how to play you.  So the enemies are going to be and are, all around you.  He’s just trying to land a seat at your table.  He just wants to pull up a chair and engage in conversation with you.  (Please watch that talk if you haven’t already – from October 5th on the blog)  The question for you is, who have you been listening to?  Is it the enemy?  And if so, why?  Perhaps you’ve engaged in a conversation with him and started to form some agreements around the lies he’s been telling you.

What role must we play?  To the scripture above, I have underlined/bolded the key words for us.  It is not a passive affair.  You have a role to play in defending yourself from the attack that is coming 24/7.  First, you need to control “self”.  That is the “me” thing.  It is lust, sex, greed, envy, jealousy, impulsiveness, anger, etc.  If we give into these things, we’ve given the enemy a seat at the table.  If we go to lust, to pornography, etc. we are just inviting him in.  It’s like riding in an armored limo going through a hostile crowd and rolling the windows down.  By rolling the windows down, we’re giving him an opening to exploit.  And he will.  Second, we must be alert.  It is coming.  It may not come directly at you but instead it will come at your wife or your kids.  You must be on alert at all times and not drop your guard.  And then it says we must resist and stand firm.  The temptation is coming.  She will call out to you, “It won’t hurt to look” or “no one will ever know”.  You must resist and stand firm.  NO!  I will NOT be that man.  I will not be that man that falls for this and gives up my honor and integrity”.  Next, it says we have to “come near to God”.  We have to be in the Word.  We have to pray.  We have to seek him.  We have to care for our souls and feed upon the nourishment only God can give us.  Next, we must purify and wash our hands of the sin.  That is a real battle but it is putting guardrails up that you will not cross.  It is setting standards of operating behavior you will not vary from.  That may be no R-rated movies for you.  It may be nothing with sex scenes in it.  It may mean giving your iPad away so the temptation is gone.  It may mean confession to your band of brothers of a weakness in your armor your need to fortify.  The truth shall set you free.  Lastly, we need to humble ourselves.  Humble.  Humility.  A desperate need for a power far greater than you possess.  It is a death of hubris or “I’ve got it all figured out”.  Humility is a beautiful thing in a warrior and we’ll talk more about it later this fall.

You have a role to play.  The Lord has “prepared a table for you in the presence of your enemies”.  They are all around us.  Revelation 12 says that Satan was thrown out of heaven and down to earth where he wages war against woman and all her offspring.  God doesn’t pull us out of the fire.  The power of your testimony is what God will use to bring others to Christ.  That you can walk through this minefield and keep your honor and integrity, die to self, live in humility and have a radical dependence on God, that will testify to the doubtful that this God we serve is real and powerful and transformational.  That God can take the tragedy of your messy life and turn it into a Triumph is a testimony.  But as Richard Peters reminded us today, testimony starts with “test”.

More to say but that’ll come in another post.