draw upon the Vine…

Just as the law of gravity is always in operation, so is the “law of sin” – that your fleshly nature wants to respond to.  This is why no matter how hard you try to “purify” your life, you remain tempted by that pretty woman or the mighty dollar or approval from others.  You hate that about yourself.  Yes!  I do too.  Paul did too.

The good news is, you can access a higher law.  Remember Narnia when the witch killed Aslan and he came back to life saying “She doesn’t know about the higher magic”.  We have access to that higher law, higher power, higher “magic”.  It’s called the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus”.  And it overpowers the law of sin and death.

When you are indwelt with the Holy Spirit and relying upon His power rather than your own, which means being sensitive to His leading and obeying His commands, you’re no longer controlled by the “law of sin and death”. 

It’s no longer about trying harder or doing more “spiritual calisthenics” or memorizing more scripture.  It’s no longer about trying to purge out all lust inside you or purifying yourself with no more TV, no more social media, no more fun, no more temptation.  No, it’s ALL about leaning harder on God’s Spirit who lives within you and drawing from HIS strength and power to live victoriously.

A man who wanders off to try to do this life on his own power to try to purify and overcome all temptation is a man who has cut himself off from the Vine and is withering in the field like a dying branch.  It just won’t work.  DRAW upon the Vine.  Seek HIS power for your life.  It’s there.  And He brings great victory to us when we step down off our throne and let Him up on His.

Walking in Wholeness – conclusion

Derrick gave us a great recap of the Wholeness series this morning.  The slides are here Manschool – Wholeness – summary

The question for you as we’ve processed through this journey is “Have you received significant insight or experienced a measure of breakthrough?”  And if so … “Have you taken action as a result?”  We want you processing these questions.  Ask Father.  Carry on a conversation and say, “Show me Lord what it is you wanted me to see here”.  Ask your fellow brothers – those Tribe men you’re close with – because the thing about Community (or Tribe as we like to say) is that only community can truly see your blind spots.  Close community has a way of seeing things you just can’t see because you’re standing too close to the situation.  This quote sums it up so well …

Be kind, for everyone you know is facing a great battle.

A true community is something you will have to fight for.  You’ll have to fight to get one, and you’ll have to fight to keep it afloat.  But you fight for it like you bail out a life raft during a storm at sea. You want this thing to work.  You need this thing to work.  You can’t ditch it and jump back on the cruise ship.

This is the church; this is all you have.  Without it, you’ll go down… Suddenly all those “one another’s” in Scripture make sense.  Love one another.  Bear one another’s burdens.  Forgive one another.  Acts of kindness become deeply meaningful because we know we are at war.  Knowing full well that we are all facing battles of our own, we give one another the benefit of the doubt.

Leigh isn’t intentionally being distant from me – she’s probably under an assault.  That’s why you must know each other’s stories, know how to “read” one another.  A word of encouragement can heal a wound; a choice to forgive can destroy a stronghold.  You never knew your simple acts were so weighty.  It’s what we’ve come to call “lifestyle warfare.”

We check in regularly with one another, not out of paranoia (“Do you still like me?”), but in order to watch over each other’s hearts.  “How are you doing?”  But be careful about what you are looking for from community.  For if you bring your every need to it, it will collapse.  Community is no substitute for God.

John Eldredge, Waking the Dead

None of what we’re doing in Manschool is meant to convey to you an easy formula to life.  There is no guarantee in this life of anything.  Look at the life of Job.  We don’t push a “prosperity Gospel” on you – a series of formulas or practices that if dutifully followed, “abundant life” is promised.  This is a broken world with broken people.  This movement towards Wholeness is a process of sanctification – steps along the path of life leading towards eternity.  A spiritual, emotional “high” is great but it doesn’t get you “there”.  Neither does 60 minutes of quiet time a day, scripture memorization or a “purification” of your life purging out any/all possible temptations.  None of that guarantees you anything.  But God…

But God.  God promises you Him.  He is enough.  A million dollars isn’t.  The perfect house isn’t. Perfect children aren’t.  God is.

That said, it is a process of sanctification and yes, very much indeed, being in the Word, spending time quietly seeking the Father, giving, serving, living outwardly … yes, yes, yes … do those things. Do more of them.  As you should exercise your body, exercise your faith.  Turn these things into the stuff of life…

There is nothing more dangerous than a repeated experiencing of a fine emotion with no attempt to put it into action.  It is a fact that every time a man feels a noble impulse without taking action, he becomes less likely ever to take action.  An emotion is not something in which to [savor or delight in]; it is something which at the cost of…discipline and of sacrifice, must be turned into the stuff of life.

William Barclay

FINAL QUESTION – What are you going to let define you and your life?  Your past mistakes? Failures? Wounds or words spoken over you by broken people?  Lies of the enemy?  Or … what the Father says about you, believes about you, desires for you?  We all have that choice. Too many of us have lived 30, 40, 50 years listening to the wrong voice and it has defined our life. Today, right now, that can change.  Today, you can let go of the lies of the past – yes, it may have happened and yes, you may have done it and yes, there are consequences of our actions – butit does not have to define you.  Christ took all that for you on the Cross.  If you will trust Him, it is gone.  Finished.  It is “as far away from you as the East is from the West”.

Are you ready for more?  Are you ready to release this and get on with the life your Father has for you?

The damage of deception

Here are the slides from this morning > damage of deception

Satan wants to step into an incidence of sin and get you caught/stuck so he can do as much damage as he can.  The heart of everything he does is deception.  When you fail or someone sins against you, Satan will attempt to attach a message to that hurt to keep you bound in it a long time.  Once we latch onto it, a stronghold is in place.

Where does it start?

“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie … furthermore since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind.”    Romans 1:25,28.

“Why is my language not clear to you?  Because you are unable to hear what I say, you belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.  He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of liars.”  John 8:43-44

How do we turn it around?  

“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2) and Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free”.  (John 8:32)

The enemy is going to lie to you.  He’s lying to you right this very moment.  You have to know the Truth to combat the lies.  The Word is your greatest weapon in this war.

Deception was at the heart of the very first sin.  The serpent said to her “Did God really say you must not eat from any tree?” 

  1. Wages an attack on the mind. Brings confusion.
  2. Then once, confusion was in place, Satan flatly denies truth “You will surely not die…” he distorts.
  3. Substitutes his lie for God’s truth“you will become like God”

If you and I question God’s character i.e. “maybe God isn’t all that concerned about me” –> it leaves us vulnerable to questioning His word and if that’s the case –> Satan can easily insert his lies.  YOU have opened the door.

It begins in the battlefield of the mind and then he’ll go after your heart and finally, your soul.

There are four main categories of lies…

  1. About God. He isn’t good, He cannot be pleased.  A distant and uncaring being.  It leads you to a path of “why try?”  And yet, Psalm 139 tells us that God knew us in our mother’s womb and He knit us together – each of us uniquely crafted.
  1. Myself. “God can’t or won’t forgive my sin” – Guilt.  Satan wants to trap you there.  “I’m worthless” – created from lies spoken over us by people.  We bite and he piles on.  If I was just _____ I’d be OK”.  Satan tries to lock you onto that ____ as your idol i.e. that which will give you a sense of security and meaning and will make your life work.  It’s a lie.  You can get back all that money you lost or get that house or get that woman … it is still not going to fill your soul.  I can never really change” – we get stuck here and Satan wants you believing that this is how you’re always going to be – that there is no way out.
  1. Others.  “I can’t trust anyone” – his lies have a measure of truth – there is no human you can trust absolutely.  “All women are ___” – if you’re hurt, Satan wants to attach a message to the pain – an absolute you can declare.  “If my wife would only…” again, making an idol of that one quality you wish she had.  “If I say no, they won’t like me” – people pleasing to gain approval.  “If I tell anyone, I will be ruined” – Satan’s trick of isolating you to do life alone and bake in your own shame without others to call you out of it.  The truth is, you’re only as sick as your secrets.
  1. About the Christian life. “I don’t need anyone else but God” – no, you’re made for relationship/community.  “I know what God’s word says but my situation is unique” – usually occurs when you want to go against God’s word.  “If I could just ____, I’d feel more spiritual” – the trap of performance i.e. praying, memorizing scripture, mission trips.  It’s a lie that you can perform your way into God’s favor.

 How do we deal with this?

  1. Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ“What is this message I’m hearing Father? Where did it come from?  What is its purpose?”
  2. Renounce the lie I’ve believed and claim the truth of God’s Word – To know truth, I need to know God’s Word. Fill your mind with it.  It is the greatest weapon you have yet most of us rarely study the Word.  We live in a media world – messages come at us constantly telling us what we should believe.  Know God’s Word so you can combat it.
  3. Draw on the power of community – you cannot do this by yourself. Community can show you your blind spots and help you see reality i.e. “that’s a lie, here is the truth”.  Community encourages you to hang on.

Wholeness – Forgiveness

The natural progression of unforgiveness goes something like this…

Wrong –>   Offense –>   Hurt –>   Anger –>   Bitterness –>   Producing destructive effects

Forgiving is release.  It is breaking this progression that leads to all the destructive effects.  It is letting the prisoner go and all to many times, that prisoner is myself.  I’m a prisoner to my unforgiveness of others.  The person I refuse to forgive lives rent free in my mind and too often, they don’t even realize they’ve offended us.  But I’m carrying it around with me and I rage and battle against them.  I rehearse speeches for that day when I will confront them and tell them all they’ve done to hurt me.  I avoid them in public or speak ill against them to others hoping – just hoping – they finally get the punishment they are due.

It’s a losing game.  And I’m the one who loses.  I’m the one it eats up.

And God wants me to release it and forgive.  And once I do…

“Like flipping a light switch in a dark room that allows power to flow through the wires and light to fill the room, forgiveness allows God’s grace to flow into a broken relationship and bring healing.”

Now, forgiveness is not forgetting.  It is not overlooking or excusing the offense nor is it rationalizing or justifying what happened.  It is also not taking the blame.  There are consequences for our actions and one of those is that folks tend to remember.  They may forgive you but the memory is there as a protective buffer.  They may forgive you but their guard may forever be up. Forgiveness does not mean they will immediately or fully trust you.  You can’t rail against them for that.  You did it.  One of the consequences of your actions is they may never forget.  But mercifully, they can forgive.

the slides from this morning are here –> Manschool – Wholeness 6 – forgiveness 3  In here, you’ll see some great steps to getting to forgiveness.  Especially the prayer Derrick shared with us …

Lord, I recognize that You have totally forgiven me.  You have commanded me to forgive others just as You have forgiven me.   I chose to forgive _________for _______ (actions and effects).  I ask that you forgive me for not forgiving as You commanded.  Help me to reconcile my relationship with _______.  I choose to release this hurt and anger and I release _________ from any debt owed me.  In the authority and name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I take back any ground I have allowed Satan to gain in my life because of this conflict.  I ask this in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

And lastly, if you want to know what forgiveness looks like, watch these two powerful short videos about a mother who lost her daughter to a drunk driver.  Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…

 

How much time do you have for the Father? (great song included)

As we discussed this week, there are all kinds of reasons to keep the Father at arms length in our attempt to “do life” all by ourselves.  One of the core tenants of LiveUP is that if a man attempts to do this life alone, he is going to be taken out.  Don’t even think about going it alone.  You NEED tribe.  You NEED community.  You NEED a handful of men around you to fight for you.

And, most importantly, you NEED the Father.  He waits.  He just wants you to pull up chair on the porch and start a conversation with Him.

I am reminded of the great John Piper quote that I’ll leave with you as food for thought…

“Facebook and Twitter (and I’ll add the ESPN app) exist if only to prove that prayerlessness was not due to a lack of time.”

Ouch.  Where are you spending your time?

You’ve got the time.  He’s got the ears.  Take it to Him.

Lastly, check out this song.  If you’re truthful and you open your heart and drop your defenses, it’ll be hard to hear these words and not have the tears flow.  It fits perfectly with what we discussed this week at Manschool…

I am broken – wholeness (1)

Many of us have been sleepwalking through life due to the nature of this fallen world, the mistakes of our past and an enemy who keeps throwing this junk at us.  The enemy wants you asleep at the switch.  He wants you in denial.  He wants you turning to medication.

God wants more. Just imagine what it would look like for God to break through in your life and your family.  Ask him to do “immeasurably more” (Eph 3:20)

If we will allow Him, God will show us the compromises we’ve made in our lives, the idols we turn to and the past hurts which have shaped us.  You’re either growing in wholeness or moving in brokenness.  Growing in wholeness is not a destination.  It’s a journey.  It’s a process.  We will not get “there” in this life.  This is a call to wholeness, not perfection.  It is being restored and put back together.  It starts with owning the specific brokenness in my life.  Judging others, constantly measuring myself vs. others and putting myself above others, etc.

You’ve heard of the clinical term of dissociation.  It’s a survival mechanism.  It’s a gift in our design from God to provide a path of survival for us in a trauma until we can come of age and get the resources we need to be able to go back and deal with it.  It is why we may block things out of our memory until such a time that a safe place has been provided to bring it out.  One of the ways God gives us to heal is our ability to name our story truthfully.  Not diminish it but to name it to one or a few safe people.  The more you’re able to tell your story truthfully will be the extent to which you’ll be able to heal.

The Holy Spirit tells us He desires truth in our innermost being (Psalm 51:6) “You desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there.”  Denying reality is a gift – for a time – for your protection.  But there comes a time where we need to grow up and with Jesus step into more and more healing.  There comes a time to come clean and own it.

Almost everyone has had some impactive trauma in their life (and thus, going on in their body). How it manifests is going to be very, very different.  Like a young boy whose father left the family and there was nothing the boy could do to stop it.  He had sensations in his body he had to deal with – and – likely, he had to shut down and dissociate because of deep anxiety or feeling sick to his stomach or rage that was overwhelming.  So, he shut down and now it contributes in his adult life.  He may not possess the range of emotions in him that God intended for him to have and it might be causing all sorts of issues i.e. his wife saying “Why are you so unavailable to me emotionally?”

It’s a lot to unpack with the Father but know this – Jesus wants healing for your heart.  Jesus is all about restoration and nothing is beyond His reach.  Nothing is too difficult, nothing is too old for Him, nothing is ever too broken or out of His reach.

In the beginning, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed.  Transparent and vulnerable.  Nothing to fear, nothing to hide.  Free will gave us the chance to choose God or choose self.  Sin came.  They went to hiding, fear and danger.  Jesus came to restore us.  Isaiah 61:1 “The Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and freedom to the prisoners.”  Jesus claimed this verse for his ministry.

Are you poor?  Are you brokenhearted?  Are you captive to darkness?  Mourning?  World seems to be ashes?  Are you in despair?  Jesus says He came to give you life and give it to abundantly.

I am broken.  Own it.  What are the signs?

            Stressed out trying to be everything others expect me to be?

            Do you battle fear and anxiety on a regular basis?

            Feel numb to life more often than you’d like to admit?

            Do you go long stretches where there is little or no joy in your heart?

            Accused of being driven and you don’t even know why you’re so driven?

            Or do you hold back and never take risks

            Are you thin skinned and easily offended?

            Afraid of relationships and intimacy?  Of being transparent and being known?

            Do you turn to relief instead of restoration?

            Plagued by bitterness, resentment, guilt or regret?  Cynical about life?

            Are there things you can’t stop doing but no matter how hard you try?

These are symptoms – they point to the disease.  What are some of the sources?

  1. My own sinful choices.  Decisions I’ve made that have brought great pain into my life.  I can’t shift the blame to anyone else.  Sin destroys and fractures our souls.
  2. Other’s sins.  Sin impacts a lot of others around us.  Some of us have deep hurts and wounds because of the sinful choices of others.
  3. Living in a fallen world.  Death, illness, crime, the economy.  They collect in our soul.
  4. The Enemy.  He deceives us.  Lies to your face.  He will do whatever it takes to keep us in our brokenness.

What do we tend to do with our brokenness?

  1. Deny.  We rationalize or shift the blame.  Or we stuff it in denials.
  2. Hide. “Everybody is desperately insecure.  Deep down, we are all convinced that if people knew who we really are, they would reject us.  So, we find ways to hide or cover our perceived weaknesses.”  (Paul Tournier)  We hide in all kinds of ways.  We isolate. We pose – living an act, putting on a mask hoping we can fool everyone.
  3. Perform.  Perform to overcome our brokenness.  We become perfectionists.  Our identity becomes the things we do, how we perform.  Just another way of hiding.

None of these will heal our brokenness.  The only way to do that is to take it to God.

  1. We must first own it.  Psalm 32:5 “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity … and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
  2. Embrace it.  Embrace the reality that I am broken and need God’s healing.  Enemy lies to us about the very fact that we are broken.  Paul says, “When I am weak, then I am strong.”  God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.  As long as we fight weakness and do everything we can to show that I am not, we will continue down the road to brokenness.
  3. Submit it.  We cannot move to wholeness without going through total surrender to God.  Wholeness begins in surrendering it to God.
  4. Receive God’s provision.  His promise is to make me whole.  He will keep His promise. It may be immediately, it may be over time but He will not leave us alone.  He will restore!

The Gospel brings beauty out of brokenness.  God is working everything for our good.  The painful times sharpen us and draw us into deeper relationship with Him.  God’s plans are good.  But we must trust His timing, not ours.

Read Psalm 32:1-5

Read Psalm 32:1-5.  This is the path of man in our brokenness.  Follow it.  Follow the progression of steps.  Follow the path to wholeness…

  1. How happy is the man whose sin is forgiven.  How happy is the man who no longer hides and lies — “in whose spirit there is no deceit”.  This is God’s design.  It is what He had with Adam briefly and it is what Jesus came to reclaim.
  2. But, because of our brokenness … we hide.  We pose.  We take the reins and try to do life on our own apart from God.  In our hiding and posing, we are living a lie.  32:3 “When I kept silent (hide), my bones became brittle from my groaning all day long.  For day and night, Your hand was heavy on me; my strength was drained…”  Oh we can run but we cannot hide.  We can push God away.  We can live life solo – a man doing life all by himself, not letting anyone in, always putting up a false front, posing as having it all figured out but in so doing, we are wasting away, crumbling under our mask of “I’ve got it all figured out”.
  3. And then, hopefully, we turn“Then, I acknowledged my sin to You and did not hide…”  Once broken, we own it.  We don’t, after all, have it all figured out.  We are lost in our posing and hiding.  We cannot do life alone.  We are indeed quite broken, quite humble and desperate in our need for Grace.  And we confess.
  4. Once we confess, comes the restoration“and You took away the guilt of my sin”.  Freedom.  Restored.  Forgiven.  No more shame.  Transparent in my brokenness, I give it over to God and admit I am a mess.  In so doing, He restores.  He restores!  The guilt is gone and the trump-card the enemy had over me is gone!