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
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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”

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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!

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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.

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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…

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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.

 

 

Fear and your Promised Land

Why worship matters …

I’ve seen you move, come move the mountains and I believe, I’ll see you do it again.  You made a way, where there was no way and I believe, I’ll see you do it again.  Walking around these walls I thought by now they’d fall but you have never failed me yet.  Waiting for change to come, knowing the battle’s won, for you have never failed me yet.  Your promise still stands.  Great is your faithfulness.  I’m still in your hands.  This is my confidence, You’ve never failed me yet.  I know the night won’t last.  Your word will come to pass.  My heart will sing your praise again.  Jesus you’re still enough.

It matters.   So much.

The attack of the enemy will come.  We do not live in Eden.  There are giants in the land taunting us but we have to see beyond the giant.  We must cast our eyes upon the Victor.  We know the war is over – we know the the Winner.  Faith trumps fear – “yes, giant you are big and you taunt and yes, you can knock me down (if I let you) … BUT … I see beyond you and you’re already dead, you just don’t know it yet.  I do.  I’m looking past you to Jesus and He’s WAY bigger than you or anything you can throw at me.”

We win by faith.  We win by our worship.  We win by believing in our Promised Land. 

Fear is a giant – one of the most common giants that must fall.  Fear can taunt us and harm us.  Fear can get a foothold in our lives and begin to dominate us.  Fear can demoralize us and ultimately diminish God’s glory in our lives – i.e. the way we reflect God’s glory.  The way we show the world who God is and our ability to walk out our testimony – that’s what is lessened.

It doesn’t always look like fear.  Are you anxious, nervous, worried, stressed or feeling dread?  Are you tense or having stomach problems?  Is sleep very hard for you?  There’s a good chance fear is at work.  Fear chews away at our lives and erodes our sense of confidence and well-being.  It robs us of sleep and rest.  Fear blinds us and steals our praise.

Fear seeks to obscure our view of God and crush our confidence.  It will yell insults to try to convince us that we’re going to live with this giant the rest of our lives.

The opposite of fear is not being bold and courageous.  The opposite of fear is faith.  Faith beings by us saying, “I have confidence in God that He is bigger than this giant.”

Americans are the most medicated culture in the history of mankind.  We take prescriptions by the millions for worry, stress, anxiety, despair and terror – all cousins of fear.  Some get medication from their doctor and some from a bottle.  But the end goal is always the same.  We want to take the edge off.  We want to decompress.  We just want to forget about the things that are troubling us for a while.  We want to not be afraid.  The answer for fear is seldom as simple as saying, “fear, go away in Jesus’ name.”  Fear is symptom of a deeper cause.

Goliath was a champion.  He had a record, a history and that’s significant because a lot of us have a history with our giants.  These giants didn’t just show up this morning.  You’ve been battling some of these for years, decades.  Ever heard these voices?

Remember when you went to that retreat and promised how your life was going to change?  Guess what, it didn’t.

Remember that time you thought you were going to be all big and bold and you lit a candle by your bed and said, “the light of God is with me?”  Too bad sucker, I still won out on that day.

Remember that time you went to church and they had that message on life change, and you thought you felt something different that day?  Nope, nothing changed.  Won’t then.  Won’t now

That’s the voice of your Goliath.

He harassed them for 40 days and 40 nights.  He came out every morning and every night.  He started the day taunting, and he ended the day taunting.  He started the day demoralizing and diminishing, and he ended the day demoralizing and diminishing.  Giants are relentless.  They don’t take days off.

So, we must battle.  It isn’t one quick prayer and this is behind me.  No, he’s far too crafty for that.  He will come back.  This is daily.  It is drawing upon the Vine.  It is worship.  It is soaking in God’s Word.  It is daily conversation with Father.  It is preparing before you go into toxic environments, girding with prayer and inviting God in ahead of you.  It is a process.  Day by day.

God paid it all – for you – you are incredibly valuable.  You have a Promised Land – the area God created you for where you can thrive and cast glory to God.  The enemy is trying to dominate your thoughts, mind, will and emotions to keep you from seeing your creative value and seeing the price Heaven paid for you.  Bad fear is chronic and debilitating – that is not from God.  It’s a controlling spirit by the devil to keep us off our promised land.  Once I understand that isn’t me, but a separate identity, I can begin to take authority over it.

By believing this and pursuing our Promised Land, we keep our eyes on God and what He believes about us and there is no room for the roaring lion.  When he roars, we roar back!

“me” has to die (part 2)

The root of all sin is “me”.  It is self.  It is your flesh.  It is the “immediate”.  It explains why we have all this credit card debt.  “I want it, I get it, I figure out how to pay for it later”.  I justify.  I rationalize.  “I need this”.  “I deserve this”.  “Why can he have a 70 inch HDTV but I can’t?”  “Everyone else does this, why can’t I?”

Go back and re-read that first paragraph and look at all the I’s.   Me, me, me, it’s all about me.  That’s a pathway to death.  Living for “me” is sin and it’ll take you places you never wanted to go and extract a cost from you that you never wanted to pay.

Me-first explains why we don’t tithe.  Tithing is a radical statement of faith that my money will not own me.  By giving it away (giving first), I am standing in defiance of “me first” and my flesh.  I’m radically surrendering Lordship of my money over to God.  It is surrender.

Surrender is the very opposite of sin/me/flesh.  Surrender is Lordship.  It is acknowledging I am not master of my life and in fact, if left unchecked, my flesh will consume my life and all those around me that I love.  Surrender is acknowledging that if left to my own devices, I’d consume like locusts.  Surrender is admitting you’re weak.  It’s a beautiful thing.   In my weakness, God is strong.  

Some guys can drink and escape the risks.  Others of us have no business drinking.  It’s too wide an open door.  There is too much risk.  Maybe alcoholism runs in your family and you’ve bought the lie that you’re immune to the risks.  No one is immune to risk.  We have an enemy who does not fight fair and is the master of all lies and if you don’t think you’ll ever get hooked, you’re buying a lie. Some guys don’t really struggle with pornography.  But others of us know it is a vast weak spot and if tempted, we will take the bait.  In truth, no man is immune to it.  If you’ve ever looked at it, you struggle with it.  If you’ve ever looked at it, there is a temptation to go back.  That’s what Satan does.  His hooks cut deep and have big barbs on them.  Getting them out of your flesh is hard.

Sexual temptation, pornography, sending Facebook friend requests to pretty neighbors, flirting, wondering/wandering is “me”.  Taking a few drinks every night to numb the pain and escape.  Toys. Overspending.  Overeating.  Carrying around rage, envy, hatred, comparison, jealousy.  These are all about me and my needs and finding stimulation elsewhere from God.

Satan will use any and all to take you down.  “Be on alert, your enemy, the Devil, prowls around like a hungry lion looking for someone to devour.”  Flirt with that pretty sales rep who calls on you and think you’ve above it?  Don’t kid yourself.  He knows your weaknesses and he’s just looking for an open door.  “Please Bubba, please give me an open door, just take a second look, send her a text, send her a friend request, agree to go to lunch with her.  It won’t hurt anyone.”  He’s prowling around and you may be his lunch.

Go back and look at the post from October 5, 2016.  Watch the Louie Giglio talk again.  Remember that talk.  Don’t forget it.  God prepares a table for you in the midst of your enemies.  (don’t kid yourself, God himself is telling you that your enemies surround you)  The table is there.  There is all this chaos swirling around — it’s just you and God.  He wants you focused on Him.  His provision is there.  Just keep your eyes on Him.  Those temptations will come and it is when you turn in your chair from facing God and start engaging in those conversations in the chaos is when you get in trouble.  “Self” is going to want to turn to those temptations.  “Me” is going to get bored with God and turn to the shiny lures.

“Me” … has to die.  Battling sin is first acknowledging it and second, repenting it.  I must first own it without any rationalizing or justifying.  There is no justifying sin.  Then, I must turn from it.  Repent = turn from.  180 degree U-turn.  Flee from it.  Run.  Quit drinking.  Be willing to go get help if you need it.  Own it.  Close your Facebook account.  Put the filters on your laptop and give your wife full access to it and your phone.  Never, ever go to lunch or dinner with another woman.  Purge any and all avenues that are potentially open doors.

Will it be fun?  No.  Is it needed?  Absolutely.  If you want God to restore, you’re going to have to take some bold steps.  He will meet you there.  All this mess in your life?  God can turn a mess into a miracle.  You just have to be willing to kill “me”.  Listen to this song and especially John Piper’s words in the middle of it.  God’s slaying of “me” is serving a purpose.  He’s not asking anything of you that His Son hasn’t overcome.  God is calling us to slay self so He can work His Divine purpose in and through our lives.  Remember in your weakness, He is strong…

You’re saved. Why don’t you believe it?

Actions speak louder than words.  Many of us say we are saved (and we are) but we live like we’re not.  We live under a blanket of condemnation and shame.  It comes from the enemy, the words and opinions of others and it comes from our own mistakes.  Watch the testimony from Big Daddy Weave about how he was living out his faith …

His entire life, he’d stamped the word “failure” over himself.  He opened a door to the enemy to come in and hold that over him.  Mike made an “agreement” that we talk so much about in Manschool.  He listened to the wrong voice.  He lost 84 pounds in a year but didn’t hit his goal of 90 pounds and so, immediately, shame and “failure” set in upon him.  The weight piled back on.

And then, one day at his lowest point, he asked God, “Why can’t I love myself?”  The Holy Spirit came upon his heart and said, “Mike, you need to let me tell you what I think about you for once.”  And God loved him there in that moment.  That encounter was the inspiration for the song “Redeemed”.

Derrick reminded us this morning that our brokenness is not the end of our story.  God desires to heal us and make us whole.  It is a process of sanctification.  The offer of restoration is freely given to all who believe and profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  Psalm 32 (see the earlier post) reminds us that He “took away the guilt/shame of our sin”.

Salvation is the path to wholeness.  You ARE saved.  Live like it!  Humble yourself to the magnitude of the GRACE extended to you upon the Cross!  Because He so loved you … He gave it all.

Wholeness comes.  Rejoice!  It starts with the immediate.  The moment you surrendered and invited Jesus into your heart, the process of wholeness started in your life.  But, you were not whole in that moment.  Keith reminded us that the minute you say “I do”, you are a husband.  But… you have no clue what truly being a husband is all about.  That comes over your lifetime. The same is true with wholeness.  It starts with salvation.  In that moment, God sees us as whole through Jesus but He also starts the process of making us whole.  So, it is immediate and then it comes over time.  We don’t get fully there in this life.  In eternity, the construction will be complete and we’ll be fully restored, fully whole.

Ask Him.  Ask Father what He thinks about you.  Take the question of who you are to the ONE who created you.  He thinks you’re amazing.  It’s time to start believing Him.