“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…

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.