man ALIVE…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fight Club – this is how we fight

here are the slides from this morning … Which Kingdom 13 – fight club 3

here is the video – we started at 13 minutes into the talk …

When you play football, you understand what fight club is all about.  You’re out of the stands.  You’re committed.  You have invested and sacrificed.  And you’re extraordinarily vulnerable because every play, every move, every block is graded and evaluated in the open.

It is completely different than the people sitting in section 304.

It can be like that in church – we can sit in church, watch from a distance, know 3-4 guys who seem to be Jesus guys and worship at a distance – or – we could get on the field, get some guys of our own, make the commitment and say, “I don’t want to be a spectator, I want to be a participant in what it is God wants for my life.”

 We fight in 4 arenas

We want to fight for our walk with God –  The enemy is going to try and destroy in every man, his relationship with God.  He doesn’t want us to be come a man of the Word and a man of prayer.  You were created for relationship with God.  The best gift we can give to the next generation is to become a “man after God’s own heart” = a man of the Word and a man of prayer.  That is going to take a fight because no one is rewarding us men carving out time to become students of God, becoming immersed in the Word, to learn the Word of God so we can live it and pass it on to our children.  Our call is to raise up our children in the Word of God, not default that to our wives.

We want to fight for our heart and our character –  Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches.  To be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”  Survey humanity and culture and you’ll see that silver and gold is way more important than being esteemed.  For most men, great riches would be an easy choice over a good name.  We know we must fight for our heart and our character.  David honorable but he was still subject to temptation and so am I.  If you don’t believe that, you’re deceived and very vulnerable.  Bathsheba came along, and every man knows exactly how David fell.  James 1:14 – “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after his desire has conceived it, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death.”

Lust is in the heart of all men – lust for her, for power, for money, prestige, vengeance.  In this fight, there is something about having other men around you who can help you overcome these temptations when they come towards you.

We want to fight for our family –  We are providers and protectors.  We’re good at.  It’s what we do but we are also the fountain for the approval and worth that our family so desperately need.  Ephesians 5 – “Love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” At the heart of every woman is a desire for a man that is a protector and provider and a source of approval for her and encourager in her life.  Our families need more than financial deposits.  They need emotional deposits as well.  They need to know we love them, we like them, we think about them, we want to be with them and we want to help them fulfill their dreams.

We fight for our brother –  Ecclesiastes 4:12 – “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves but a chord of three strands is not easily broken.”  Help your brother fight to become the man he wants to be.  Brothers in war.  Transparency is crucial.  100% honesty.  Your success is dependent on how transparent and honest you will be.

It won’t work to get together to talk about work, talk about our family, talk about temptation, talk about lust … and not be honest.  You hold all the cards.  Unless you’re willing to put all your cards down on the table, you’re not going to make it to the ultimate destiny.

There hasn’t been one book ever written about the lone, one man who won the battle, by himself, against all the enemies coming against a man’s heart.  But there are enough books to fill this room of all the men who fell trying to fight against all the enemies in a man’s heart.

It’s going to take brotherhood and it’s going to take vulnerability.

living on the edge

here are the slides from this morning >> Which Kingdom 4 – living on the Edge

Here is Andy Stanley’s talk we watched >> http://justaskit.org/edged-out

you can find this entire sermon series at justaskit.org 

Isn’t it true, when tempted, that you have self-conversations where you talk yourself into it?  Our greatest regrets?  We were there before, during and after.

We start “thinking ourselves” into a dumb decision.

“There’s nothing wrong with.  Nothing wrong with.  Nothing wrong with…” and we talk ourselves right up to the line/edge – we excuse it, excuse it, excuse it.

We all do this – it is a bad idea to assume that if something is not “wrong”, then it’s right.  If there is nothing wrong with it, in general, then it is right for me.  That’s a bad idea.  As a believer, I am commanded to live above merely right and wrong.  You can get into a lot of trouble doing things that are just not “wrong”.

Bad moral decisions are generally preceded by a series of unwise decisions.

There’s nothing wrong with…

            Having lunch with her – “after all, we all work together”

            Having dinner with her – “we all worked late”

            Just she and I working late together

            Confiding in her – “you know, my marriage isn’t going so great”

            Listening to her

            Dropping by her place

            A hug

If a friend saw this pattern developing, he’d sense a series of unwise decisions moving in an unhealthy direction.

The truth is, in this area, we will lie to ourselves long before we start lying to others.  And, I will have a hard time admitting what anyone on the outside can see happening.

We move closer to the edge, closer to the edge and someone calls us out on it and we say, “hey, I’m fine” … closer to the edge, closer to the edge.

Living on the edge is fine if you’re counting calories but it is unwise in this area.  With moral things and expressions of sexuality, there are certain lines that if you cross, will create extraordinary regret and extraordinary complexity.

If there is a God that knows you, created you, cares for you and has a future planned for you, what would you expect God to say on this subject?  Go for it?  Walk the line?  No, we’d expect Him to say what any parent would say to his 17-year old son = “Not so close”

Paul told the church in Corinth (which was a pagan town, very secular) to “Flee from sexual immorality” 1 Corinthinans 6:18.  Don’t flirt with it.  Don’t see how close you can get to it.  No, flee.  Run.  Get as far away from it as possible.  It’s what you’d want your wife to do.  What any Dad wants his children to do.  What any 17-year old boy wants his 13-year old sister to do.

We all know this is right for those that we love – but – sometimes, we’re not so sure it is right for us.

“Flee from sexual immorality, all other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.”

Sexual sin is like no other sin – there’s nothing like it.  When someone walks into his office with extraordinary regret and complex things they’re trying to walk through, 90% of the time, there is something sexual involved.  People move on from all kinds of things but things sexual just seem to stick around.  Part of it is that we live in a culture that believes sex is just a physical act and then we realize, “I don’t think this is just physical, it effected my soul, my heart and my conscious and it effected how I view other women”.

—– ACTIONABLE ADVICE —–

The issue with sexual sin isn’t forgiveness – God forgives – the issue is consequences – which includes the damage done to you and your soul and the damage done to those closest to you.  We don’t think about it in the moment.  We progress down that sequence of events, we confided in one another, emotional bonds are formed and, like lighting a forest on fire, the situation rapidly gets out of control.  No, you don’t see it in the moment – in the moment it just feels “right” and you’ve found your “soul mate” (a lie) and it’s too late.  But…can’t you see?  Don’t you see how dangerous this is?  You can stop this before the forest catches on fire.  You stop it by fleeing.  When tempted, flee.  Don’t kid yourself and take the next “innocent” step.  Run … the other way.  Confess it.  Wall her off.  Tell your wife – you want to talk about a great way to kill this temptation off?  Tell you wife!  Bring it into the light.  Hide nothing.  And make it perfectly clear to this other woman, “nope, not going to happen, this ends now, you need to find a counselor”.  And then, perhaps most importantly, be brave enough to examine your sin.  “How did I get here?” — “What is it in me that needs this outside validation?” — “Which kingdom am I serving – my needs, my wants, my lust, my desire to be adored/valued — or — am I going to serve the Kingdom of God?”

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!

What am I supposed to “do” ?

We had a full room this morning .  55 strong.  God showed up!  

Here are the slides from this morning —> manschool-wholeness-4

Read the following text from Romans 7 in The Message.  See if you can relate…

But I need something more!  For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help!  I realize that I don’t have what it takes.  I can will it, but I can’t do it.  I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.  My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable.  The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.  I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight.  Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps.  I’m at the end of my rope.  Is there no one who can do anything for me?  Isn’t that the real question?

I highlighted in bold a few of the key passages – “I can will it, but I can’t do it”.  I can’t do it.  As much as I want to stop the sin … I just can’t stop it.  My decision to “stop” just simply doesn’t result in action.  The cycle of repeating this habitual sin happens so regularly, it’s predictable.  Think > pornography.  lust.  overeating.  road rage.  a relentless focus on self.  isolating myself. overspending.  As hard as I try, I cannot stop the cycle …

cycle

We all struggle with habitual sins we cannot seem to stop.  And you know, as you go through this cycle, it really turns into a downward spiral.  The more I repeat the sin, the deeper into my guilt/shame I go.

“The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does”.  Romans 7:25 MSG.

Christ can “do” it.  You cannot.  I cannot.  In my power, I cannot overcome this habitual sin.  The cycle will defeat me as it always has (or else I wouldn’t now have this habitual problem!).  But… but … Christ can.  And He does that by shifting how you look at this.  Stop focusing on the “doing” and start focusing on what you want to “be”.  Focus on the “being”.

Galatians 5 > “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”.  Focus on one of these that you feel God is wanting to push into with you.  Instead of trying to “stop” sinning, instead focus on what you feel God wants you to “be”.  For instance, I want to be a man of self-control.  I don’t want to be that man that is driven by his impulses.  My desire is to learn to control my impulses and learn self-control.  For me, that starts with a very small thing, resisting the impulse to drink Coke Zero and instead drink water.  Maybe it’s also giving up cookies after dinner.  Maybe it is giving up the “relief” of a certain TV show I go to.  It starts with the little things.  Little steps of faith of a long-obedience in the same direction.  God’s trying to teach me a big thing like self-control.  He’s sanctifying me.  It’s a big picture, “Richard I want you to get this.  I will use it in you in a big way so I need you to learn self-control.  I’m building you, shaping you, preparing you.  You need this tool in your toolbox for life.”  It may begin with a very small act of obedience … water instead of Coke Zero.  It may be no more wine.  It may be deleting apps.  It may be starting a regular exercise program.  It may be…  

It’s a small step towards a big sanctification.  The cycle above is me-focused.  My ability or inability to stop, my failure, my shame, my repeating the same cycle over and over.  By instead turning inward from my ability to overcome this, it is turning outward to Father and letting Him show you what it is He wants to sanctify and teach you.

The answer isn’t what you need to stop doing.  It is, instead, a process of looking to what kind of man you want to be.

attached is a link to Nick Cash’s blog post that Derrick referred to this morning —> http://www.seedbed.com/mind-the-gap-between-being-and-doing/

Nick reminds us that our desire for being will determine our actions.  Do you see it?  The cycle above is all about our actions changing our being.  No.  Wrong.  That won’t do it.  Your actions are what got you in that cycle in the first place.  You cannot conquer habitual sin with “doing”.  No, instead it must come from what you want to be.  What kind of man do you want to be?  What kind of man does God want you to become?

Breaking out of inward living – Excurvatus Ex Se

There are many ways to break out of the cycle of inward living.  The more you “medicate”, the more inwardly you will turn thus requiring even more medication and a deeper turn inward upon self.

Medicate?  Scrolling through Instagram or Facebook.  Just cruising around the internet.  A few glasses of wine.  That need to just go buy something so you’ll feel better about yourself.  Indulging on Chipotle.  Chocolate.  Ice cream.  Shutting off from people, plugging in your ipod, opening up your laptop – listening and watching what will make you feel good.  Pornography.  Pure and simply, porn is simply medication.  Shopping for women.  A new car.  There 100s more forms of medication.  1000s.

The root of all of these is “self”.  It is sin.  You are hurting and your flesh cries out for comfort and after all, “you deserve it”.  So you dive in.  And as we discussed Wednesday, as that cycle feeds on itself, the man underneath curves inward upon himself.  He becomes domesticated.  Indoors.  Behind a screen.  Weak.  Physically weak.  Nothing strenuous.  Nothing to push him.  Just give me the meds.  Remember what Hugh Freeze said – life is going to beat you up and you’re going to want to run to the training room.  They have hot tubs and ice packs in there.  They’ll rub you down and tape you up and make you warm and you’re not going to want to get back out on that cold, rainy football field.  But you have to get back into the game.

Sadly for Americans, we’ve turned inwardly in our wealth and privilege and are consuming medication at the fastest pace in history.  It only serves to dig our holes deeper.  We’ve embraced this in the church.  We’ve adopted a Country Club Christianity where we come to church to get our needs met, to hear the kind of music we want to hear, to have our kids perfectly attended by volunteers (“someone else does that”) … we come to church to be served.  We don’t like the style of music so we walk in when the sermon starts.  Or we even leave the church because we miss those traditional Baptist hymns.  We run in, consume what is there, take communion and walk out the door before its over without having to engage in community.  We leave the church because our 10-year old isn’t happy with how kids church is going.  We’re letting our children make the family decision of where we will worship because their comfort and happiness is paramount.

It is the self-obsessed tendency we all have.  The “me, me, me” of life being there to meet all my needs.  The more we curve in on ourselves, the less prepared and equipped we’ll be for when the inevitable hard times come and isn’t that what we’re teaching our kids?  When life doesn’t go exactly “our way”, we won’t have mechanisms in place to deal with it.  As a result, we’ll make poor, me-centered decisions.

Incurvatus is our sin nature.  It must be fought.  You must be aware of it.

Because, it comes on subtly.  It takes root.  We lose our bearings.  We lose our worship of the Father.  We lose the passion of our early faith.  We settle.  We crave comfort.  In the radical transformation of your life when Jesus knocked you off your horse and said, “I’ve chosen you. Follow me” … in that … how have we now gotten to a place where our personal comfort is paramount?

What part of Jesus is “safe”?

He loves us, adores us, died for us and all He asked was “Do you love me?  Do you love me?  Then follow me.”  “Follow me” doesn’t mean a life that is safe nor one that is inwardly curved upon itself craving comfort.

Do you see what’s happening?  We are consuming and consuming and consuming and in so doing, we’re turning in on ourselves.  Listen to this challenge from Erwin McManus …

“If you are a follower of Christ and you have allowed yourself to be domesticated, you have lost the power of who you are and who God intends you to be.  You were not created to be normal.  God’s desire for you is not compliance and conformity.  You have been baptized by spirit and fire.”

“Asleep within you is a barbarian, a savage to all who love the prim and proper.  You must go to the primal place and enter the presence of the Most High God, for there you will be changed. Let Him unleash the untamed faith within you.”

“The original call of Jesus was so simple, so clean, so clear: “Follow me”.  He wants us to surrender our lives to Him and follow Him into the unknown.  If it means a life of suffering, hardship and disappointment, it will be worth it because following Jesus is more powerful and more fulfilling than gaining everything of the world without Him.”

“To claim we believe is simply not enough.  The call of Jesus is one that demands actions.  Jesus began his ministry with a simple invitation, “Come, follow me”.  His closing words to His disciples could be summarized in one word, “GO”.  The invitation of Jesus is a revolutionary call to fight for the heart of humanity.”

YOUR CALL IS ONE OUTSIDE OF SELF.  IF YOU ARE A BELIEVER, THEN AT SOME POINT IN YOUR LIFE, CHRIST CAME ALONG AND KNOCKED YOU OFF YOUR HORSE.  LAYING THERE, BROKEN, FACE DOWN IN THE DUST OF THE DESTRUCTION OF YOUR SIN, YOU WERE AWAKENED BY CHRIST.  “NOW GET UP” HE SHOUTS.  “WAKE UP!”  “I HAVE A DIVINE PURPOSE FOR YOU AND YOUR LIFE.  IT IS WAY BEYOND SELF.  IT’S WAY BEYOND COMFORT.  IT IS RADICAL.  FOLLOW ME”. 

Lastly, from Teddy Roosevelt.  Weak as a child and sickly, his father told him, “You’re smart but your body is weak.  A weak body will take a smart mind only so far”.  Teddy started weight training and exercising.  It served him well throughout life.  Later in life, he lost his wife and mother in one 24 hour period.  Crushed and despondent, he knew he had to zero back in and get healing in his life.  He gave his young daughter to his sister for her to care and he headed West…

Why did he go?  Why such a dramatic move?  The answer seems to be that Roosevelt needed to restore and rebuild and he knew only one way to do it: return to the strenuous and the difficult.  Perhaps those hours of lifting weights and balancing on horizontal bars had surfaced forces of soul he needed to summon once again.  Perhaps a return to the arduous physical life was the only way he knew to quell the turmoil of his heart.  Obviously, he needed space, wilderness, difficult tasks, and looming danger.  He knew this was the key to healing.  He had experienced this truth in his life before.

After arriving in the Dakotas, Roosevelt did not spend three years in a comfortable chair by the fire with a brandy in one hand and a book in the other.  Instead, he became the western hero of his dreams.  He herded cattle and broke bucking horses.  He stood down grizzlies and fought off desperados.  On one occasion, he tracked down thieves for three days across 300 miles in subzero temperatures.  Once he took the criminals captive, he then traveled another six days and 150 miles to surrender them to authorities.  And the wilderness healed him.  He tamed the wilderness around him by way of taming the wilderness of his own soul.  He grieved and got through it.  He lived in the moment, in the physical, and in intimate connection with nature.  It forced him from living entirely in his thoughts to living a rooted, earthy life in which thoughts come only after work is done.

All men need what Roosevelt found – a strenuous physical life, the possibility of harm, challenges to face, enemies to oppose, land to conquer.  Our lives push us away from this.  We work in cubicles or comfortable vehicles.  Technology serves us and keeps us from exertion.  We live in opulent blandness – overfed, over-tended, over-entertained, and overly preoccupied with ourselves.  But men need aggressive, physical lives.  They need contest and conquest, strain and struggle.  Otherwise, we lose ourselves to softness and effeminacy.  It is not much of a surprise that a New Testament world that is translated effeminate from the original Greek actually means “soft through luxury”.  It is a warning. 

Roosevelt reminds us we are not disembodied spirits.  We are souls sealed into bodies.  We need to work the machinery, be alive in both body and soul.  It will awaken the masculinity in us.  It will help us untangle our inner knots.  It will remind us we are men.   (from the book Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men)

 

Living outside of “self”

lake-sunset

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.