As frank a conversation as you’ll hear at church … next Wednesday’s Manschool

Join us next week at Manschool as we continue to unpack this study on Goliath Must Fall and this section on addiction.

We’re going to continue to push hard into this area.  We are not holding back.  You will hear from three of us as we share our struggles in this area.  It will be candid and frank and very real.  We won’t pull any punches.

There is such power in testimony.  As the listener, it is freeing to hear another man open up and share his heart and his struggles.  That frees you up to realize, “Hey, I’m not in this alone” … and there is power in that.  As other men bring their struggles into the light, it will help you consider doing the same.

I hear frequently from you how valuable Manschool is to you.  I’m frequently told, “I am hearing things here that I’ve never heard at church before.  I’m experiencing transparency and authenticity like I’ve never experienced with a bunch of church men.”  Amen!

What we have is truly quite special.  If you’re reading this and not coming to Manschool, all I can tell you is that you are missing out on something very unique and special.

Join us this coming Wednesday.  I think you will be glad you did.

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Signs… (addiction 4)

Listen, I know this is hard stuff to hear.  It’s hard for me.  This morning, there was a fog over the room.  A malaise, heaviness.  Why is that?  Why is this so hard to hear, so hard to fight through, so hard to face?  Because you live in a world a war and you have two enemies fighting you on this.  Satan doesn’t want you dealing with your addictions and your flesh is going to fight you at every step along the way.  But Jesus is triumphant.  He walked out of the tomb and, as a believer, He is restoring you.

So why fight it?  Because these things limit you.  They limit all you can accomplish and all you can enjoy as a son of God.  He has so much more He wants for you but you’re going to have to give some things up.  Abraham was asked to give up his one and only son, Isaac – to sacrifice him on an alter.  Abraham was obedient to the end and did exactly what God asked of him.  God stopped him and a ram was offered up as a substitute for Isaac … but … Abraham was willing.  He was willing to give it all up.  And because of his obedience and his faith, God said this to him, “Because you have not withheld your only son, I will multiply your descendants as the stars of Heaven.”  (Gen 22)

There is nothing wrong with the beauty of Eve.  To delight and enjoy in the beauty of your wife, that’s a good thing.  A fine meal, a great hobby, the glorious beauty of nature, a sunset, time alone in the woods … all these things are good things.  Sex within the confines of a marriage, what a wonderful gift that is!  The things themselves are fine, it’s what we do with them that can be the problem.  We can easily take a good thing, distort it and make it “the thing”.   Stay with me on this…

I read this morning from Paul David Tripp’s excellent devotional “New Morning Mercies” … he gave an example of a family trip to Disney World and he wonders what it would be like to stop at the “Disney 120 miles” sign along the Interstate.  Would that suffice for the real thing?  He says we do this all the time …

“There is one thing that you know for sure – the sign is not the thing.  The sign was created to point you to the thing.  The sign cannot give you what the thing can deliver. The sign can only point you to where the thing can be found.  So it is with the physical glories of creation.  Here’s what you need to know – only two types of glory exist – sign glory and ultimate glory.  Sign glory is all the wondrous display of sights, sounds, colors, textures, tastes, smells and experiences of the physical world that God created.  These glories were not designed to satisfy your heart.  They were not made to give you contentment, peace, meaning and purpose.  They have no capacity to give you life.  Earth will never be your savior.  Rather, all of creation was designed to be one big sign that points you to the One of ultimate glory who alone has the power to give you life and to satisfy your heart.  God alone is able to give you life.  He alone is able to give rest to your searching heart.  He designed his world to point to him, not to replace him.  (read Psalm 19)

Where will you look for life today?  Will you live like the father having his vacation next to the “Disney 120 miles” sign along the highway or will you run to where the sign points?  It really is true that your heart will only be satisfied when it finds its satisfaction in Him.”

And to the point above about all these worldly pleasures we can enjoy, too many of us have turned to them for life.  I may not officially be an addict to booze – or – to sex – or – to lust – or – to the need for approval from others – or – to money/success – or – to control.  I may not be “addicted” to these but am I relying upon them?  Depending on them?  Are they (or others) what provides me relief from a long week at work?  Do I hit one or more of them from time to time when I need to draw upon something to sustain me?

We get into trouble when we shift our focus on these things and we start needing them as our life source.  We get into trouble if we find ourselves, more and more, needing to be entertained by these things.  As the pressure mounts, as the bills come, as the demands at work grow, as my family needs more and more of me … what am I drawing upon for “life”?  

I’ve asked you to ask yourself and the Father, “Where am I weak?”  Yes, do that.  But also, how about, “On what am I dependent?” and “What do I draw upon for life?”

I’ll just pause here and leave you with this one thought…

addictions4

 

What are you willing to give up? (Addiction must fall 2)

The core of all this goes to that question, “Where am I weak?”  Keep pushing into this one question with the Father.  Ask Him repeatedly to show you.

Jesus is in the process of sanctifying us as believers – freeing us from sinful habits and forming us in Christlike affections and virtues.  To sanctify something is to “set it apart for the use intended by its designer”.

How beautiful is that?  Perhaps a better word than “Sanctify” is “Restore”.  Jesus is in the process of restoring you, resurrecting you.

But to be resurrected, some things have to go die and go into the tomb.  The “new you” that walks out, free of those addictions will be able to enjoy new freedoms, take new territories and experience the “MORE” God has to offer.

Presently, there are some “limiters” in your life.  Those habits that keep tripping you up.  You make progress, vow to “never again” and you stumble.  It feels like one step forward, three steps back.  The enemy mocks you in this – Goliath taunts you that “you’ll never be anything more than this addiction”.  Those things limit your growth.  They limit your testimony.

addictions

God has “MORE” for us.  These habits, addictions, lusts, the entertainment we watch … He wants “MORE”.  I must remind myself over and over … the things I tolerate, He won’t tolerateThe things I watch in entertainment, He doesn’t watchThe things I let creep into my life, He won’t let creep into His life.

Let me smack you in the face a bit (because it smacked me hard in my face!) …

addictions2

What are you living for?  That’s well defined by what it is you’re unwilling to give up.  The rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked,“What must I  do?” and Jesus went right at him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven.  Then come, follow me.”  Jesus knew that one thing this man was holding onto for dear life.  In essence Jesus is asking him and us – “What are you living for, Me or the money?”  He wants to kill some of these weaknesses us and purify them with fire.  Think of dead limbs down in your backyard.  Jesus wants to clean up the dead material and toss it in the fire.

It’s the same with these addictions.  He is in the process of restoration in us, but we’ve got to be willing participants.

So, what is it men?  What is it in your life that needs to go?  Is it the porn?  Do you need to cut the cable on TV?  Is it booze?  You may not be addicted but what is it bringing you?  Does it bring life?  Is Jesus in that?  Does He want “MORE” from you than a nightly glass of booze? 

Is it your incessant need for approval from others?  Is it an obsession with lust/sex?  Success/money?  The need to be in control or the one always talking or the one who is always right?  What is it that needs to be tossed in the fire?  Is anything fair game?  He gave it ALL for you.  What are you willing to give up for Him?

fire

So much more to come…

Addiction must fall (1)

Whatever you past may have been, God has a better future in mind for you.  But before you can reach for it, you must forgive the people who’ve hurt you, forgive yourself and let it go.  You may feel ashamed of your past mistakes, unsure if you can really take personal responsibility and move forward.  You can.  You are able, through Christ.

The first step is raising your hand and admitting you’ve got a problem.  There is such power in dropping the pose of “I’ve got it all under control” and admitting you need some help.  In your weakness, you will find strength.  It is time to “Forget those things which are behind … to reach forward to those things that are ahead.” (Phil 3:13)

I don’t have to beat this.  Jesus can.

Perhaps the greatest giant of all we face is addiction.  It doesn’t just steal away my life but the lives of those closest to me.  Everyone of us has an addiction story where it eventually snuffed the life out of people, relationships, families, businesses and dreams.

If we’re all honest, we’re all addicted to something – alcohol, success, adrenaline, pain, porn – that thing we can’t live without or the thing we fear we can’t manage life without.  It could be a person.  It could be money/possessions or control.  Porn is a giant of addiction pouring its way into so many lives right now.

What is it that causes me to want the bottle?  The pills?  The success or adrenaline?  What is it that causes me to run to the porn for relief?  What is it that drives me to think, “I need to go there”?

Underneath all of it – is this fear of being exposed.  When we are exposed, we tend to want to cover up our weaknesses.  Oftentimes, it leads into an addiction that can be a short-term cover for the exposed heart that we don’t want the world to see.

Adam & Eve sinned, ran from God and hid.  It’s the natural human default to our sin and weakness.  When I feel weak, I don’t want to step into the light.  When I fail, I don’t want to step into the light nor do I want to do that when I feel the most vulnerable.  None of us want to say, “I need help” – or – “I am feeling very vulnerable right now” – or – “I feel rejected” – or – “I feel emptiness” – or – “I feel a great level of boredom”.

None of us naturally want to say, “help me through this”.  No, typically, we retreat from the light and drift into the shadows to find something to cover up our vulnerable heart to bring us comfort.

Vulnerablenone of us wants to feel it.  Whenever it comes, I quickly look for some way to cope.  Many of us choose a short-term fix which ultimately leads to more vulnerability because I am dependent on the comfort.

Addiction makes you even more vulnerable.  It is a cycle that drives you further into dependency, further into isolation and further into addiction.  Freedom comes when you do the opposite of what your flesh desires.  Freedom comes when you admit you’re weak and you raise your hand to ask for help.

more to come…

Anger must fall (2)

A few of you have asked about theses videos.  They aren’t on the website but you can buy the DVDs.  Here is a link to the videos filmed with the small groups…

https://passionresources.com/products/louie-giglio-goliath-must-fall-study-bundle

Here is a link to the 5-part sermon series (including the one we saw this morning)…

https://passionresources.com/collections/louie-giglio-messages/products/louie-giglio-goliath-must-fall

Aren’t you tired of being mad all the time?  It’s such a weary way to live. Aren’t you tired of holding onto that grudge you’ve held so long?  Today, you can let it go and trust God with the outcome.  The moment you do, you are free, and the giant of anger can fall.

Imagine how powerful it would be to release the mission you carry of righting every wrong.

What if you instead trusted God, let Him handle all the details and you believed in forgiveness and you extended forgiveness?

As believers, it is imperative that we live in the finished work of Jesus.  We must not allow the enemy to gain a foothold in our lives – something that looks small on the front-end but 5-10-15 years later, you discover a giant living in the middle of the room.  We accommodate that thing and don’t let God take it down.

Anger must fall because God wants you free from this demoralizing giant.  God wants glory in our lives by showing the world He is bigger than anything we face.

Anger is a giant that can shut down God’s possibilities in our lives.  If we’re not careful, our anger can burn someone else’s life down.  It will definitely burn your life down.

Angry people always look to tear down others.  Eliab belittled David.  No protection for his little brother.  No “I’ve got your back”.  Instead, he rips David, belittles him and questions his heart.  He challenges his character.  When you make character assassinations, you’re tipping your hand as to what is in your heart.  God looked at Eliab and said his heart was not good.  Eliab’s anger burned.  Rejection. Not getting picked is one of the huge roots of anger in our lives.

Underneath anger many times is betrayal or belittlement.  Betrayal is real and breeds jealousy.  Jealousy is a tough thing to carry.  It forces us to compare and compete.  It silences us from celebrating and affirming.  If we live in families that compare and compete and can’t celebrate and affirm, we live in war because the giant of anger is lurking in the room.

A lot of our anger traces back to our parents.  If you’re angry, it might have to do with your parents.  He abandoned me.  He was/is uninterested in me.  He picked someone else over me.  He hurt me.  He was emotionally unavailable to me.  He left our family.  He cheated on us – not just Mom – but he cheated on all of us.  He didn’t take care of us.  He didn’t take care of himself.  He won’t face the facts.  He’s too aggressive.  Too passive.  He’s gone all the time.  I’m mad at Mom for putting so much stress on my Dad.  I’m mad at her for hounding him.  I’m angry for the things he’s said to me – or – the things he never said to me.  I’m angry because I was never good enough for him.

Your anger can go back to parents who betrayed or belittled you.  But, we need to remember, Jesus has killed this giant of anger.  It may still be talking, still able to inject poison but Jesus has finished the battle.

When Louie read that list of reasons we might be angry, the room this morning grew very silent.  Many of us have powerfully felt or still profoundly feel these emotions.  This isn’t an exercise of blaming our parents.  Instead, it is a rational realization that family wounds are real and potent.  Many of us denied those or stuffed them down to attempt getting on with our lives and today, we find ourselves raging with anger ourselves and we question, “where did this come from?”  Push into this.  It is time for this giant to fall.  The collateral damage you can inflict on others you love is too costly to ignore this.  It’s time to forgive those who wronged you and pick up the responsibility of changing the narrative of your story.

What is the first step?  Remember …

Anger is refusing to see our own weakness and instead we focus on another’s weakness. At the Cross, I see how God resolved His righteous anger towards us.

“They really did me wrong”yeah, but I first wronged God.

“They really did abandon me”yeah, but I first abandoned God.

“They threw it in my face”yeah, but I threw it in God’s face.

I can no longer blame others for my sin.  Long before anyone wronged me, I turned my back on God.  And yet … and yet … He continually pursued me.  God loved me enough to rescue me despite my worship of other idols.  Jesus came and paid it all for me.  It’s time for me to take my anger and lay it at the foot of the Cross.  I’m free and forgiven.  It’s time to forgive and free others and let God be God. 

Comfort & Brokenness – Hugh Freeze

Today, we heard from Coach Hugh Freeze (former Head Coach at Ole Miss) as he shared his story of his fall and the grace he has experienced in his brokenness.  Like a lot of us, Coach Freeze went to comfort and complacency.  He had “it all” and took a lot of things for granted.  Worldly comforts provided him no true reward but he let his guard down with devastating consequences.  Through God’s grace, he is being restored and he took this opportunity to stand up in front of the family of faith and ask for forgiveness.

Even more powerful is the follow on later in the video from his wife, Jill Freeze, about how this season has impacted her and her walk with Christ.  When this was revealed to her, she immediately went to her pain, her offended self and quickly, God steered her to “Jill, do you want to stay in the pain or go to the healing” and she made a shift.  And, the more she went to God, the more it became about her sin, not Hugh’s.  God had things He wanted to deal with in her through this pain which is usually the way it is in these broken times – God is usually up to something far more vast than we could have every imagined.

Coach Freeze says in here –

What I found in 2017, when my world fell apart, is that the faith I stand on in Jesus Christ as my Savior is a solid rock, a solid foundation.  His love never changes.

There will come a point in life when you’ll need something bigger than self.

Integrity is not about “doing what is right”.  It is when something is not done right, then owning it.  It is being accountable for it.  It is seeing it for what it truly is – my failure, my sin, my pride, my shortcomings.  That integrity leads to confession and brokenness.

As you go along, and things go well, some false pride comes in, false security.  Comfort.  The lie I bought into was, “I can white-knuckle my way through it” and “I can be isolated”.  It’s a lie.  Don’t do it alone.  That will take you down a road you don’t want to go.  Confess it.  Own it.  Be willing to be broken.

and later he says –

The Devil wants you to stay where you are in defeat and as a “failure”.  But failures are not final.  You can move forward by the grace of God.   You can have the mental toughness to get up every day and surrender again.

I cannot change what other people think or say about me.  But, I can make up my mind.  My mind is set.  My eyes are clear.  My heart is full.  My feet are pointed forward and I look forward with thanksgiving for what God has given me.

You can finish well.  You may have stumbled or failed but you can get up and finish.

Pride wants to keep you from that broken spot.  Isolation from community does that too.  It’s a sign of pride to say, “I can’t talk about that”.  A lot of us were raised in churches where it was never really OK to say, “I’ve got a problem with this and I need some help.” And then guilt and shame set in and the only true way to freedom from that is brokenness.  

I’ve struggled with why this private matter between Jill and I, that I thought I was dealing with in the right way, had to go out into the public eye.  And the answer was so I could experience true brokenness and then use it for the Glory of God.

Brokenness is agreeing with God daily that anything that is outside the boundaries of me following Him, breaks His heart.  That brokenness leads you to obedience.

Amen!  Some of you reading this need to come clean.  There are things in your heart you are hiding.  There is a judgmental spirit, an offended self, resentments you’re carrying, unforgiveness that is eating you up or secrets you never want exposed.  Those are breeding grounds for destruction via the enemy.  He thrives in these dark places.  It’s time to come clean and confess.  For some of you, it may be you need to sit down with your spouse and open up.  Maybe you’re not ready for that step and so, it may be you need your closest friends to hear what you’re struggling with.  Certainly, it needs to go to the Father.  Stop and confess.  Open your heart and be willing to be totally broken.  Give it to the Father.  Leave it at the foot of the Cross where all mercy, grace and forgiveness were laid out for you.

Incredible freedom lies on the other side of brokenness.

Here is the actual video from our session this morning …

and here is the version from Liberty University.  Fast forward to about 15 minutes in through the end of his talk and Jill Freeze starts talking at 41:50 in…

What a great Friday night!

We had about 80 men and women at the dinner Friday night.  The food was great as was the music.  The Spirit was present and I think our women got a great idea of what Manschool is all about.

Here are the slides … M&W january 2018

And here is the video of John Eldredge’s talk on the Hope of the coming Kingdom… 

And the two short videos …

This fallen world can really beat you up.  We battle enemies on multiple fronts and your heart is under constant assault.  Social media doesn’t help.  In fact, more and more studies are coming out about the devastating impact of social media on self-worth, the fear of missing out and depression.

Indeed, it is easy to lose heart.  In fact, I believe you will lose heart … unless … you radically place your hope upon the Cross and the restoration of all things through Jesus.  You’re not going to find peace in “stuff”.  New cars, new clothes, new TV’s, expensive vacations and fine wines will not restore you.  They are symptoms of a wounded heart looking for home.  As you chase these things, you are trying to medicate a deeper pain.  For some people, they never get out of this cycle as their life becomes one new toy after another, only digging the hole in their soul deeper and deeper.

Perhaps as you read this, God is nudging you.  It’s time for brokenness.  It’s time to give up the chase of that elusive peace you think you’re going to find in this fallen world and, instead, turn to the Cross.  Only Jesus can heal you pain and my friend, your pain is very, very real.  You do not live in Eden any more.  You’ve made some mistakes in your life and other, fallen, broken people have sinned against you inflicting deep hurt against your heart.  These are real and consequential and your actions to deal with them, has led to even more pain.  It’s a vicious cycle which is precisely what the enemy wants for your life.

The most radical thing you can do right now is give up that old, dead-end life and surrender to your brokenness.  Go to the pain.  Feel it.  Experience it.  Share it with people you trust.  Let the tears come.  And then, invite Jesus into the pain.  Ask Him what He is wanting to say to you.  Ask Him what He thinks of you as a son or daughter.  Commit to giving up all those old “lovers”.  They didn’t work anyway.  Today is the day that you can turn a new, glorious page and do a 180 degree turn.  You’ve been walking (or running) away from Jesus a long time but if you will stop, surrender and invite Him into your soul as your Savior and if you will truly “give up the keys” of your life, as you turn around even though you may have been running for 40+ years, He will be right there behind you ready to embrace you.

Watch these videos.  Let the great and only True hope – the Hope of the Coming Kingdom – wash over your soul.  Glory to God!

PS – here is the Jimmy Evans talk on Exposing the Roaring Lion…

and here is the Todd White talk…