slides from this morning … manschool 2019 5
Two key themes have been our focus this year – first, the question of “which kingdom will I serve?” and second, this theme of “dirt” … when you get knocked off your high horse of self reliance which we’re learning is a side effect of how you answer the first question. We can’t see it at the time. We drift. We don’t read the Word. We don’t immerse in it. We rely on self. We rely on being a man that can conquer mountains and handle any challenge we face. It’s gradual. Doesn’t happen overnight – thus why I say it is a “drift”.
If my reliance, my daily bread, my sustaining is coming from God – truly – then I won’t turn to those false gods of self, success, money, sex, porn, greed, power, reputation. If you are aligned with God, being fed by Him, sustained by Him, you will push those things away – you won’t need money, success, power or reputation. They are fleeting. Only God is permanent. You don’t “need” sex. You certainly don’t need to escape into porn. You have come to believe a lie. You believe those things are your right and you’ve justified your sex drive as an excuse for _________. But the Liar we face is crafty, skilled and persistent. He’s trying to lead you away from the Fire. He loves “self-reliance”. He loves the “Type-A, driven, powerful man”. Yes, yes, yes, he will lead you right down that path of being “all that” and of being the kind of man women turn to for strength. Dangerous. Slippery slope. Tragedy awaits in the hook of the Liar.
As we read this morning…
Camp out in God’s Word – not the world. Literally pitch your tent in God’s Word. Camp. Build a fire. Pitch your tent near the fire. Don’t wander off.
There is danger in the woods (world). You can leave the camp – move from the fire and you can survive. Wandering down a dark path. Danger lurks. Its dark and cold. You turn back to the fire. What do you do when you find you way back to that fire – to the warmth and the safety? You worship!
(Eugene Peterson A Long Obedience in the Same Direction)
But we are a stubborn bunch. We want to travel north and yet all the roads are cut to the east. Do we take the well worn path? No. We complain of the roads going in a direction we don’t want to travel. Pushing forward “our way”, we find nothing but obstacles, walls and rivers and as we repeatedly fail trying to make it on our own path apart from God. We pursue “our right” to happiness but we refuse to take that well-traveled road that leads there.
It’s like God himself is having this conversation with His angels …
They are trying to get to Mount Zion but ignore all the signposts and compass readings and stubbornly avoid the trails as they bushwhack their way through wilderness. “Do you not see that they necessarily must meet with thwartings, crossings, disappointments, and failure?” They go mile after mile, watching for their destination but never sighting it.
“And then they accuse religion of interfering with what they consider their innocent pleasures and wishes.”
But religion is an inconvenience only to those who are traveling against the grain of creation, at cross-purposes with the way that leads to redemption.
John Henry Newman
As we rely upon self, we are traveling against the grain of creation. We bushwhack our way through wilderness in stubborn refusal to submit. And it’s as if God is saying, “Don’t you see? Don’t you see why I must thwart them? Why they must meet with some tough crossings, disappointments and failures?” In other words, while God may not “cause” these “dirt” moments, He also doesn’t prevent them. Some of them are choices and consequences of our own making and sometimes, the only way to learn in life is to suffer the consequences of our disobedience. Other times, seemingly innocent people suffer. We are so tempted to ask, “How could a good God let ______ happen?” We live in a fallen, broken world populated with deeply broken people. Accidents happen. Evil happens. Cancer happens. None of us are promised an easy, pain-free life.
If I am serving “my” kingdom, I can make NO sense of cancer. No sense of losing my job. No sense of a rebellious child. But, if I am serving HIS Kingdom, I can. “His will be done”. God may never answer the “why” this happened. But He is in the “what”. What now LORD? What is it You are doing in this? What is it I need to be taught? What is the self-reliance that got me into this? He will answer those given enough time and enough surrender on your part.
And do you see why? You’re taking those questions to the Father. “What is it Father? Show me.” It is surrender. It is letting go of “my way”, letting go of “my kingdom”, letting go of “I am man enough to win at a life on my own”. It’s DIRT. You’re down in the dirt and you’re surrendering to the Father and asking “what?” and it’s beautiful.
Men, listen to me. I cannot possibly know what all you’re going through but I do know some of it. One of our fellow tribe members lost his job an hour after manschool this morning. Health issues. Marriages are on the brink. Children gone off range. We’ve lost family members. Our business is sinking. We got laid off. She left for another man. Porn addiction has been uncovered. I don’t know what storm you’re going through but I do know this, God may not have caused it but I can assure you, He is in it. He will not abandon you – even if in your self-reliance, you turned your back on Him. He wants you to come home. He wants you to be sustained day by day by His Word.
He wants you to stay by the fire.
Be a man in God’s Word this week …Read 2 Corinthians 4 this week a few times. Read Lamentations 3 this week … a few times! “Hope through God’s Mercy”. Pay special attention to 3:22-29. Dirt is all over Lamentations 3.