it is well. look for the mercies today…

Let this song wash over you.  Storms will come, mountains of impossibility will rise up in front of you … even still, it is well with my soul.

I can make no sense of the recent tornado that ravaged our region.  I can make no sense of this picture of a 23-year old girl and her 18-month old child (Way too close to home – we have a 23-year old daughter with an 18-month old child whose house was hit by the storm) looking at this girl’s destroyed home knowing she just lost her husband…

How can we make sense of it?  We want to shout, “Meaningless!”  Those seemingly meaningless events are going to happen to you.  Even though they will come, it is well with my soul.  Say that to yourself.  PREACH it over you and your home.  Remind yourself that while each day has enough trouble of its own, HIS mercies are new every morning.

They are.  Truly.   But, you’ve got to look for them.  Craziness is coming at you today.  This world is frenzied in its pace.  Faster isn’t fast enough.  You’ve got to move even faster than you are just to keep up.  The world’s goal and the enemies is to convince you that you MUST keep up or you’ll be left behind.

It’s a lie.

Your soul is not meant to run at the pace you’re running.  It’s insanity.  So, you’ve got a choice to make.  Will you step off the crazy train and reorient your soul to the Father?  Perhaps your only chance today will be in your car for 7-8 minutes between meetings or on the way to the soccer field or on your drive home to stop, rest, disconnect from the madness and connect to the Vine that feeds your branch.

IT IS WELL.  Play that song today.  Let it wash over you.  Be healed.  Be restored.

Challenge – starting today, if you have a journal, put a page in there entitled, “Today’s mercies” and write down when a mercy comes your way.  If you don’t have a journal, pull out notepad and use that!  Mercies?  It can be a compliment, the laughter of a child, the sunset tonight, a break in a tense situation, a turn in the environment at work or home, the chance to pickup limbs at a neighbors house.  Find the mercies God gives you.  WRITE THEM DOWN.

Next week, I’ll ask you to share the mercies the Father poured out on you in the midst of your storm.

Life is messy so I will Raise a Hallelujah

Here are the slides from Wednesday > manschool 2019 1

Another post will be coming speaking to “Dirt” and we’ll get back in the mud next Wednesday.

But for now, when life smacks you down, when the pain comes, when the enemy jumps upon a wound only seeking to wound the wound even more … what should you do?

When there seems to be no hope?  When the lost loved one can never come back, what can you do? 

When the enemy heaps shame and condemnation on you over your failures, what weapon do you have to swing back?

Your voice.  You can sing.  You can shout the anthem songs that speak of God’s truth.

One of the better weapons I’ve personally experienced is captured in this song …

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…)

 

who are you listening to? (tribe tune included!)

We resume manschool tomorrow with a powerful testimony from a man in our tribe who has been through a very difficult season.  It is brave and bold of him to share with us.  There is real power in testimony.

Until then, last week, we ended with this song and I wanted to hit you with it again here today.  Seems to me one of the greatest battles we face as men is whose voice we’re going to listen to.  We face an enemy who is quite real and quite dangerous.  He is the father of all lies.  But … but … the Creator of the universe is also speaking to us.  He fights for you daily.  Pursuing you.  Crossing paths with you.  Trying to get your attention.  Seeking you.  He is the Father looking for His son to come home.

Read these words, say them over your soul.  When tempted, repeat them.  When the lies come – and they will – you can say with the complete confidence of a warrior —  “Oh no, I was lost and He brought me in.  Who the Son sets free, is free indeed.  No, no foul one, I am a child God.  Yes, I am.”

Who am I that the highest King would welcome me?
I was lost but He brought me in
Oh His love for me, Oh His love for me
Who the Son sets free, oh is free indeed.  I’m a child of God.  Yes I am
Free at last, He has ransomed me.  His grace runs deep.  While I was a slave to sin, Jesus died for me, yes He died for me
Who the Son sets free, oh is free indeed.  I’m a child of God.  Yes I am
In my Father’s house, there’s a place for me.  I’m a child of God
Yes I am.  I am chosen.  Not forsaken.  I am who You say I am.  
You are for me.  Not against me.  I am who You say I am. 
I am chosen.  Not forsaken.  I am who You say I am.
You are for me.  Not against me.
I am who You say I am.  I am who You say I am.
Who the Son sets free.  Oh is free indeed
I am a child of God

vulnerable

here is the piece I read at the start about grace … Scan0129

here are the slides from this morning … Goliath 17 – Addiction (final) 2

and here is Glorious Day …

Keep this song on your list.  Look at the passion in the kids.  Listen to the words.  See the rejoicing.  “You called me out of the grave!!”   Amen!  Too many of us are walking around beaten and weighed down by this world and our mistakes.  Read the grace piece attached at the top of this post.  See those kids dancing and smiling and praising God.  “I’ve made so many mistakes”.  Yep, me too.  But Christ has called you out of that grave of mistakes into forgiveness and freedom and restoration.  Act like it.  Smile like it.  Engage people today like you own the most wonderful gift of all … because YOU do!

As soon as I feel vulnerable and weak and unable, I cover up and mask what is really true about me.  Saul covered up David’s vulnerabilities with armor.  Adam & Eve covered up.

It’s exactly what we do.  We can’t possibly go out into the world just as we are.  We feel vulnerable in our true self, so we cover up.  “I don’t want people to see me.  I am afraid of what they’ll think if they see me, so I’m going to hide me.  I don’t want to be vulnerable, so I cover up.  I don’t want people to know I’m afraid now, craving attention now, how insecure I am in this moment, how angry I am.  If I can have a drink before I go, I can cover up my insecurity.”

I mask the fact that I have vulnerabilities in my heart.

Before the fall, Adam & Eve had intimacy with God, peace with God and a place with God.  Sin entered, and they were isolated from God and they had no peace.  They had a place with men and hostility with men.

If we step out of peace and intimacy with God, we’ll instantly find what they found – comparison and compulsion.  And that’s where all of us in this room are, to some degree, today – a life driven by comparison and compulsion.  We all have the tendencies toward compulsive behavior.

Vulnerability isn’t all bad.  David took off his armor and went into battle vulnerable but in intimacy with God.  He may have been exposed but he was not alone.  He didn’t try to hide his vulnerability but, instead, he leaned into the ability of God.

When I am vulnerable, what do I do?  If I feel angry, tired, weak, that I am less than everyone thinks I am, unsure, tired from being overconfident all the time – what do you do?

We have to find God in the unmasked middle.

When I feel vulnerable, I have two choices …

Option 1 – cover up and get some drug to help me cope.

Option 2 – run to Jesus.  “I’m not going to cover or cope, I’m running to Jesus”

addictions10

There is great freedom in vulnerability, great freedom of letting go of being in control, posing as a man who has it all figured out, pretending you’ve got all the answers.  There is beauty in saying, “I don’t know” or “I don’t understand” or “this situation scares me” or especially, “I need help”.  We raise our hands in worship (some of us do!) but how about simply raising one hand the next time you are lost and saying, “I need some help”.

You won’t make in this life doing it alone.  You need tribe/community.  You need Father.  It is beautiful and, in fact, strong to admit you need help.  “In my weakness, I am strong”.

When we drop the pose and fall to our knees for the Father, we are admitting we are vulnerable and in that, we find great joy that Jesus embraces us just as we are.  Through that settled peace, we feel His acceptance and we are infused with His life.  And then, we can live out the Gospel exchanging out weakness for His strength.

Only when I am willing to be vulnerable can I truly see that He is ABLE!

addictions11

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…

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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…

Your love never fails

After Manschool this morning, this song came on my playlist.  The words were timely…

Nothing can separate.  Even if I ran away.  Your love never fails

I know I still make mistakes.  But You have new mercies for me everyday.  Your love never fails

You stay the same through the ages.  Your love never changes.  There maybe pain in the night but joy comes in the morning

And when the oceans rage, I don’t have to be afraid because I know that You love me.  Your love never fails

The wind is strong and the water’s deep but I’m not alone here in these open seas cause Your love never fails

The chasm is far too wide.  I never thought I’d reach the other side.  But Your love never fails.  You make, all things, work together for my good.

What are you doing – daily – to draw upon the Vine and stay connected to the Father?  Men, as we’ve discussed about fear and now rejection, there are opposing forces fighting us each and every day.  There is pain in the night.  I will make mistakes.  Oceans will rage, the wind is strong and the waters are deep.  But His love never fails me.

To combat this onslaught, we worship.  To combat this, we pray.  To combat this, we get in the Word.  

You cannot hear songs like this one enough.  Play it.  Repeat.  Repeat it again.  Your time in your car is valuable time.  Make it a time of restoration.  Fortify.  Draw upon the Vine.  Hear the words and let them heal you.  Be reminded that you’re God’s beloved son in whom He is well pleased.