When the storms come…

There will two posts from today – first, the notes from the discussion.  The second post will relate to the story/video from Catalyst.    REMINDER – NO manschool next week (day before Thanksgiving) we will see you the following Wednesday.

here are the slides from today > Which Kingdom 10 – storms

Here is the “Tribe Tune” – Who YOU say I am … when the storms come and you are beat up and not certain of how it will turn out, LISTEN to this song.  “You ARE for me, not against me.  I am who YOU say I am!”

Rock bottom will teach you lessons that mountain tops never will.

Vegetation doesn’t flourish on mountain tops.  The lush growth is in the valleys.  When you’re in a difficult place, realize that the LORD either placed you there or allowed you to be there for reasons perhaps known now only to Himself.  Rest assured of this, whatever God has planned for you is way bigger than your comfort zone.

Last week, Derrick said – something to the effect of – “Detours come to break our pride and humble us, so we can be worth His glory”.

Not sure I heard that right, but I sat and pondered it.  “Worth His glory”?

The LORD has a glory – of that, there can be no doubt.  His glory will go where it will go.  Will it land on me?  Not if I’m full of pride.  Not if I lack humility.  Not if I forget from Whom all blessings flow.

Full of pride.  No humility.  Equals > “I’m in control.  Success is mine.  I made it.  I’m beautiful.  I’m talented.  I made “this”.  The self-made man.

Is that man worth God’s glory?

His glory will move and rest upon those in whom He finds favor.  That man that made it all on his own … the glory of God won’t come.  Glory might.  Success might.  Fame might.  But it won’t the glory of God.  It’ll be the glory of this world.

God’s glory won’t come and rest upon that man because he seemingly doesn’t need God.

Which Kingdom will I serve?

CS Lewis

“I’m not sure God wants us to be happy.  I think He wants us to love and to be loved.  But we are like children, thinking our toys will make us happy and that the whole world is our nursery.  Something must drive us out of that nursery and into the lives of others and that something is suffering.”

Suffering?  Why does suffering drive us out of the nursery?

Because suffering reminds us that the “things” of this world – the toys in the nursery – can never satisfy us.  The suffering still comes no matter how many toys we have.  What then?

Craig Groeschel

“If we’re going to become stronger in our faith, more committed to God, more in love with Jesus, then our beliefs will be tested.  They must be tested.  Henry Blackaby explains, “Will God ever ask you to do something you are not able to do?  The answer is yes.  All the time!” 

People will tell you that God won’t give you more than you can bear.  While they probably mean well, that’s simply not true.  The Bible does say that God won’t let you be tempted beyond what you can handle (1 Cor 10:13).  But He often gives you more than you can handle, so you can learn to depend wholly on Him.

Your times in the valley may not be pleasant, but it’s in the valleys of life that you grow closer to God and stronger in your faith.

Mountain tops can trick us.  When everything is golden, it is easy to forget God.

God knocked me off my horse 3 years ago.  He’s kept me off it the whole time.  There have been no mountain tops in those 3 years.  He is shaking, humbling, molding, breaking me.  He has a purpose in this far beyond what I can comprehend.

At one point this summer, I had a former business partner pass away at 50 from pancreatic cancer, my firm was being examined by our regulator, my wife spent 3+ weeks in the hospital in 4 visits, she lost 20% of her body weight and there was a day or two in there where I wasn’t sure she would survive.  My dad was also in the hospital and we had to negotiate and plan my daughter’s wedding.

Craig Groeschel

Often when we want God to do something, the solution wouldn’t require much of Him – a quick nod, a spoken word, an answered prayer – in the grand scheme of things, just a small miracle.  If only He would allow me to be rewarded for all my hard work!  Or just heal my sick child!  Or help my loved one overcome depression!  Or break my sexual addiction!  Or bring my prodigal child back home!  Or at least let me win the lottery!

As we grow to trust God, we must recognize what I consider to be some of the fundamentals of growing in the Christian faith: awe, respect, reverence, appreciation for God being God, acceptance of our limitations as human beings.

We can’t know everything or see into other people’s hearts.  And we sure can’t see ahead to how it all will unfold.  But God can.

Like a master story teller, He is crafting an epic in which He allows each of us to play a significant role.  There are no minor characters or bit players in God’s story.  We are all important.

He’ll never abandon us and he’s working everything for our good.

So, when we are suffering, ranting and raving about all the unfairness of life, we would do well to remember that there is so much more going on than we can see or understand from our limited perspective.  We’re only seeing a tiny sliver or a much bigger story, perhaps only one sentence or one paragraph on just a single page.

In the middle my storm this summer, I had zero certainty of how it would all unfold.  I didn’t know if my wife would survive.

But I can say with great confidence, God sustained me through that.  It could not have been done on my own.  And remember this from earlier … “I’m in control.  Success is mine.  I made it.  I’m beautiful.  I’m talented.  I made “this”.   This summer, there was NONE of that.

Utter — complete — dependence —- on Him.  And in that posture … God’s glory can come and rest upon you.

(part 2 in a moment…)

 

Advertisements

To be candid …

Here are the slides from today > Goliath 15 – Addiction (3)

Do I truly love the Lord?  I mean … trulylove Him?  And how, exactly can one demonstrate his love for Jesus and the Father?

In this on-going discussion on our addictions, I think the above question is the one we need to be focusing on.  And, my friends, that question drives right at this one > “where am I giving the enemy an opening?”

Romans 8:5 gives us a glimpse of this battle – “Those who live according to their flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh…” and as we’ve discussed with all these addictions, they begin to take on a life of their own.  I shift from being a partial consumer of these things to waking each day just looking for my next fix of self-satisfaction.  “What is going to entertain me today?”  Maybe it is pornography or taking a drink.  But maybe it’s setting out each day to find affirmation, attention, a place where I can be “right”, a place where I can be in control.  Maybe it is a new car or TV or a great hunting trip or the next luxury vacation.  Maybe it is moving towards my wife just to get my physical needs met.  Or maybe it’s just a really great meal.  Whatever the case, we can become very self-focused in our approach to life and the danger is, these addictions start small and quickly grow into all-consuming animals that destroy life.

addictions7.PNG

From the devotional New Morning Glories“If you love the gifts and not the Giver, your heart will never be satisfied, but if you love the Giver, your heart will be content and you will be able to enjoy His gifts while keeping them in their proper place.  Every human’s life is a quest to find something to love and a quest to be loved.  That means you’re always surrendering the affections of your heart to something.  Whatever commands the love of your heart also shapes the direction of your life.”

Love the Lord first and above all else … the direction of your life goes one way…

Or – Love self and always be on the lookout for the next thing that entertains or satiates your desires (life pretty much is about me and what I need) … and the direction of your life will go in a vastly different direction.

He continues… “The desire for good possessions is not wrong, but it must not rule your heart.  The hunger for comfort and ease is not ungodly in itself, but it must not rule your heart.  (remember the rich young ruler when he was asked to give up his money.  what ruled his heart?  God or his money?)  The desire for the love of another person is not wrong, but it must not rule your heart.  A desire for a good thing becomes a bad thing when that desire becomes a ruling thing.”

And this is the point … what is the Lord of your life?  Is it The Lord?  Or is it self?  How much of your life have you given to the Lord?  Maybe you accepted Jesus as your Savior but have you given Him your life?  All of it?  Does He have access to any part of your life?  The money, the reputation, the perfectionism, the indulgence in things, your sex life?

Man, I know this is tough and I may be sounding preachy but brothers, I am shouting this to myself as I write it.  Believe me!  I’ve been knocked off my high horse yet again.  

But here’s the thing I want you to hear.  Unlike the preachers of old who shouted down sinners, I want you to focus on the “more”.  Man, I have stumbled in these areas big time.  I’ve seen new things revealed to me and yes, if I focus on my failure, it can be a shaming thing but what I continuing to hear Father say to me is, Son, these things are limiting you.  I can only take you as far as you will let Me.  If you’re going to wall off parts of your life as being none of My business, then there are limits in what you will accomplish in the Kingdom.  There is so much more I have for you.” 

Men, everything needs to be on the table.  Like that song we play by Hillsong in manschool, “I surrender” … “here I am, down on my knees again, surrendering all.”

I think the Father is saying this to us…

addictions8.PNG

And I’ll leave this post today with this last picture.  Fire purifies.  It restores and makes the ground fertile for new growth but it isn’t a pleasant process.  We have some things growing in our forest that have gone crazy and taken control of parts of our lives if not all of it.  It’s time for a purifying fire.  We’ve got to be willing to be vulnerable and open the parts of our lives to God that are limiting us…

addictions9.PNG

More to come…

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…

Where I’m weak – how anger grows into a Goliath

Here is the video of Erwin McManus talking about fractals and anger.  Fast forward to 1:01:00 and run it through 1:11:50…

Some of these weaknesses we have, the Goliaths in our life … they are keeping us from the life that is truly life.  It is time for these giants to go down … for good.

We all want to be united with Christ in a resurrection but none of us wants to be united with Him in a crucifixion.  We spend our lives trying to avoid death not realizing we’re swimming in death.

A fractal is a replicating pattern that changes its scale as it replicates.  Sin is that replicating pattern that destroys your future, destroys your hope, destroys your relationships and destroys your soul.  You have self-replicating patterns in your lifethese giants we’ve been talking about.

Maybe there is a point where you stop picking sin and it just picks you.  It becomes a self-replicating pattern that you don’t own but rather, it owns you.  Oftentimes, everyone around us sees it – “why do you keep going back to the same self-destructive pattern?”  It’s no longer a choice.  You’ve lost the power to choose.  The pattern has become you – it eats away at your soul.

Anger is like this.  It starts small.  Left unchecked, it takes on a life of its own.  You rage at your wife.  The little things with your kids, ignites a storm of anger in you.  You’re that dad at the little league baseball game getting escorted out of the park.  Sooner or later, you wake up and notice your kid punching the wall in his rage and you’re left wondering, “Where did that come from?”

Sometimes it’s not even fractals we choose.  It’s a sin passed onto you by someone that came before you.  It’s a pattern given to you by your father or grandfather or your culture.  You didn’t even choose it rather it was placed in your soul.  You’ve become a racist or you’re hostile, unforgiving and bitter.  You became negative or cynical and it was passed onto you.  Some of you are the sons of alcoholics who were sons of alcoholics and that fractal was passed onto you.  Some of you, your brokenness was passed onto you and you’re a slave.  Jesus came to break the patterns of these self-destructive patterns that keep replicating in our lives.

Maybe it starts with an offense.  Someone offended you, wronged you.  Then you chose not to forgive.  You allowed it to simmer and it became bitterness that began to eat away at your soul.  Then the bitterness became anger and you wanted to harm someone.  Anger became true hatred and you wished death for them.  Anger becomes hostility, which becomes violence, which becomes murder which then becomes war and then, genocide.  We all pay attention at the genocide and war and murder levels.  But none of us want to discuss the lower levels … the anger, the bitterness, the unforgiveness and the original offense … because … those are us.  They are me.  They are personal.  The big headline grabbing war/genocide, yes, those are problems we can agree must be dealt with but …

What if we stepped back for a moment and realized that the entire human dilemma – the murder, war, genocide – is just a fractal of my soul replicated to a grand scale?

more to come…

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…

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.

He prepares a table before me…

Here is the Louie Giglio talk we watched (again!) this morning.  I started the tape at about 17 minutes.  I encourage you to watch this again.  I strongly encourage you to watch this with you wife.  Put the kids to bed, turn off the TV and invest in the spirituality of your marriage and in so doing, build a deeper level of intimacy with her.

The talk is so good, I can hardly put words to it.

In the context of his talk, I encourage you to go and read this blog post…

A Letter To Satan Concerning My Daughter’s Seizures.

Morgan Cheek writes powerfully on this blog of the journey God has taken her and her husband on as they raise twin girls with severe genetic issues.  (Her husband Hugh is from Columbus).  This is a journey they cannot escape.  There is no “prosperity Gospel” to deliver them from this.  Great pain accompanies their journey.  But God.  But God is present with them.  He walks with them and prepares a table before them in the presence of their enemies.  The situation may never turn around.  God never promises us a pain free life in this fallen world.  It does not make our God … not good.  He is good.  He is present.  They are surrounded by all sorts of enemies but God is present and He has prepared a table for them and He is enough.  He is all and He is enough.  Read the blog post and see how Morgan battles the enemy by calling out his lies and reading back to him scripture and Truth he cannot deny and will flee from.  In so doing all this, Morgan is not giving the enemy a seat at her table.  She’s locked tight her eyes on the Creator of these precious girls and the comfort and provision of God is all she needs.

Lastly, tying in with all of this … what is it that God wants from you?  What does he want?  I’ve talked to you about my “high horse”.   Here’s our buddy Vlad on his “high horse” but you know what, it’s us.  We’ve got life figured out.  We’re in control.  We always have the answers or we pose acting as if we do.

And if you’re ever so lucky, God will come along occasionally and knock you off that horse.  Here is how it starts …

and how it ends …

and Praise God!  Now you’re humbled and you are in a place where you can look at your life in a fresh way and now you’re able to listen.  So here is how life looks …

These nice little boxes tucked up on the shelves.  Each of those boxes are the things we “control” – career, 401(k), home, wife, kids, sex life, our time, our money, our stuff.  As life goes along, we manage these things, take control of them, pretty them up, make them appear as if all is perfectly in order.  Perhaps family is the best of these – pretty wife, two perfect kids, right schools, right attitudes, “everything just seems to work out for them”.  Life’s good.  “I’ve got this under control and life figured out”.

BOOM.  High horse time.

My daughter turns up pregnant.  God prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies and if I will just sit at the table with Him and lock tight on Him, He has me.  But no, I turn away.  I turn to my shelves.  I take these things and take control of them and get busy getting the shelves of my life in perfect order so all the world will look and see “wow, he has it figured out”.  The enemy will strike here.  He won’t play fair.  He’ll even use scripture to trick us.  “You’re just being a good steward of the talents God’s giving you.”  You see, even in that, he’s tricking us to turn from God and think “I can do this on my own”.  The liar tells you that “you don’t need God,  you’ve got this”.  

So, enough time goes by and I’m lulled to sleep and my pretty little life, all tucked nice and neatly up on those shelves gets blown up when my daughter turned up pregnant.  Not only was she pregnant, she moved in with the boy and a way of life far removed from the home she grew up in. What then?  What of the pretty little family all nice and neat?  Five weeks later, her older sister told us she was pregnant too.  Double Boom.  Face plant off the high horse into the mud.  The perfect little family was now being rocked.  The facade was broken.

I will say that through all of this, we’ve been humbled.  On December 1, we thought “there is no way we’re ever going to make it through this.”  45 days later with both of them pregnant, now we really knew, “there is no way we can do this”.  But God.  God has turned this mess into a miracle.  What seemed insurmountable four months ago has passed.  God got us through it.  We walked those days in a way we’d never walked before with God.  Will our “perfect” little life ever be “perfect” again?  No.  But you know what, now that I look back, I don’t want that kind of perfect.  I want the God perfect.  I want to give it ALL to Him – “Lord do with all this whatever You will”.  I never again want to walk another day up on a high horse thinking I’ve got it all figured out.  I want to walk my days the way we did in the worst of that storm when each day was radically dependent on God showing up.

So my question to you is simple – What does God want from you? 

God wants it all – your time, your money, your sex life, your kids, wife, job, retirement “plan” – the whole thing.  We want to keep control of most of this up on our shelves – we turn our back on God and his table and turn to our shelves saying “No God, I’ve got these things under control, I just need you over here in this other area”.  Nope.  Oh no.  God wants it all.  The more stuff you keep away from God up on your shelves as you fine tune, shine, polish and present as perfect … the more idols you’re worshiping and the less you’re locked tight on Him.

Morgan Cheek has no choice.  She cannot “do” being a Mama to those two little girls alone.  She’s desperate for a Savior and she’s seated at the table He has prepared for her and those girls in the midst of her enemies.  The road ahead looks daunting and it is but in the swirling vortex of the enemies that surround her, there is a table and The Good King prepared it and sits there with her.

Push into this.  What does this say to you?  Where are you in this.  

Let me hear from you.