Funeral Service for RJ Cummings

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The service for Carver’s RJ Cummings will be held this Saturday at 11am at Christ Community.  RJ graduated last year and played linebacker for Carver as well as basketball.  He was heading to Iowa to play football this fall but tragically, he was struck down by a bullet last Friday night.

The Carver family is in mourning.  We’ve been with the team this week, speaking to the team as a group and talking a good bit with Coach Arnold.

If you would like to support the Carver team and RJ’s family, please try to attend the service on Saturday.

Our work at Carver is never done.  We’ve only scratched the surface.  There is so much more we can be doing to impact these kids for Christ.  RJ’s death, while tragic, is also an opening for God to move upon the lives of this team.  In the human sense, his loss is a waste of a life but no tragedy is ever wasted with God.  He always moves.  He is sovereign.  He IS good.

Let’s support them on Saturday.

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Remembering Lonny Arrington

The story of your life (pt 2)

To start with, there is that picture we saw this morning of the bike down on its side in the driving rain storm and the man trying to lift that 600 pound beast by himself.  To no avail.  In frustration, he lifts his arms like he’s about to start beating the motorcycle. That feels a lot like our daily lives.  We live in a world at war and life just doesn’t go so well for us.  Others breeze through life but I find myself in the ditch, unable to lift the bike, hearing the condemnation of “you’re weak” or “a real man could do this”.  And then.  And then … there is that next frame of the film where two brothers are there helping him quickly lift the bike and get him back on track.

That … is Tribe.  That … is how it is supposed to be.  Other men knowing your story, seeing your deep worth and helping you stand up against the setbacks and the, “why can’t I seem to get past this” of life to call you UP to all God intends for you to be.

When everything in the world makes no sense, there is beauty.  It speaks to a larger story.

Chesterton said, “With every step of our lives, we enter into the middle of some story we will probably misunderstand”.  The key to the riddle of our lives is often back in our own story but if you never unpack this stuff, it pins your heart down.  A man trying to figure his life out on his own is for one, living a very small story and two, has no chance to understand what is really happening.

My father died when I was 12.

My Dad was an alcoholic, abusive man who always told me I was worthless.

I screwed up and blew my chance at college.

I’m addicted to pornography and it cost me my marriage.

And after these things, there is the, “and ever since then”.   Ever since then, my life has been one experience of pain after another.  Of course.  Of course.  There is this moment of great pain, heartache or shame in your life and if you can go back into that pain and unpack it and understand it, it will explain so much of the rest of your story.  THAT is what we’re after.

Love is a big part of what makes story worth living.  The search for love is at the center of everyone’s story.  It might look like a search for success or praise or validation or affirmation – it’s still the search for love.  Or, it can look like defensiveness, isolation, “I don’t need anything or anyone” – it’s still love, you’re just pushing against it.

We were meant to be honored and respected and we were meant to be delighted in.  Where you experience honor and delight, you will feel loved.  But so often, when delight comes, it is often based on what we’ve done and whether we’ve performed well enough.  Honor often causes us to hide that which we know is not really lovely inside of us.

So, we’re in a bind.  We want love, we’re afraid, we don’t want to risk but we’re meant for delight and honor.  So often, we choose the safe road rather than what we’re made for.  The biggest risk we ever take is the risk to love and to be loved because it is the deepest desire.  It’s at the core of our being – we live in a love story set in a world at war.  Love is the core and the war is always against love.

Here is our dilemma – if the world was only filled with love and beauty, we wouldn’t find it so hard to believe a good and kind hand was behind all of it.  But then there is suffering, loss and heartache.  Pain comes slamming into our lives and this is where we get really confused about what kind of story we’re living in.  A significant loss or pain in your life can really mess up your understanding of story if you don’t have something to help you interpret it.

Pain and fear in our lives causes us to stay in small stories, safe stories that give us just a taste of what we were meant for.

Whatever interpretation of your story there is, it must reconcile beauty and suffering, love and loss.  The real question isn’t “why is there so much suffering in this world?”, it is “Why is there so much beauty?”  If life is an accident and mostly cruel, how do you explain beauty?

All the movies we love are the same story – an epic battle of good and evil that must be fought, small characters that rise up and play a valiant role and then at the end, some epic restoration occurs and the King returns … that is the Gospel.  There is a larger story and we have a place in it.

Stories, movies, myths, legends – they are all telling us something true about the universe.  There is meaning, you are a part of something great and good.  We have a heroic rescue through His life, death and resurrection.  We are rescued and now called up into a great story.  Yes, there is a battle of good and evil – just watch the news!  Yes, you’re needed – small characters in an epic story.  We get to live in the grandest story of them all.

We’re all looking for what we’re meant for.  That longing for the epic is a big part of why adventure has become so popular but adventure isn’t enough to be a life story.  You know you’re in a small story when you’re the main character and that’s the risk of making adventure your story.  Adventure can turn on you at any moment.

Spiritual Warfare in the path towards Wholeness

The enemy is looking to capitalize on sin and establish strongholds.  All he needs is an opening he can exploit.  He’ll also come when things are going well – even when you’re on a spiritual high.  Go off to Wild at Heart for a 4-day retreat and the enemy will counter-attack.  Here is a picture of warfare from the movie The Natural…

Roy Hobbs was going to be the greatest player to ever play baseball.  A dark woman entered his life and tried to kill him and then jumped to her death.  16 years later, Hobbs attempts a come back. The NY Knights draft him.  The owner is trying to wreck their season so he can buy out the team’s manager.  He’s loaded the team with reject players including Hobbs and he’s buying off players with cash and women.  Hobbs joins the team and starts hitting home runs and the Knights start winning. They try to buy Hobbs off with cash and the owner’s niece.  It almost works.  Hobbs takes a stand and this scene is him combating evil.  Notice the comments “I think you’re a loser” or “What about your past?”  This is how evil works.  It’s looking for a sin in your life it can exploit and hold against you but a man who knows who he is and more importantly, whose he is can stand up to evil as Roy did in this movie.

How we are to engage the enemy

  1. Be saved  Of course!  But churches across America are full of people who know all about God but have yet to truly surrender their lives to Him.  They still sit on their throne running their day-to-day life.  If you’re ready to come down off your throne (and how is that working for you anyway?) – if you’re ready to give that seat up and let Jesus sit in His rightful place, today is your day.  In spiritual warfare, without salvation, we stand no chance.
  1. Be Filled with the Holy Spirit  Eph 5:18 – “Don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled with the Spirit.”  (19-21 tells you how)  The Greek means “being constantly filled”.  Filled is not a one-time action.  It is continuous.  I need to have no part of my life – my marriage, fatherhood, career, money, sex life, body, my giving – not surrendered Once He has free reigns to all my life, all my categories, then the Spirit can freely move all across my life.
  1. Be armed for the battle Eph 6:10-13 –Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”  We must realize that every day – every single day – there is a battle and there is an enemy who wants to deceive me, confuse me, misdirect me and hurt me.

1 Peter 5:8 – “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

  1. Understand that we’re not fighting for victory but from victory It’s done.    Christ has defeated the enemy.  The death blow in WW2 was D-Day.  Once we established a beachhead in France, it was inevitable that Nazi Germany was going to be defeated.  It took almost a year but on June 6, 1944, the war was in effect over.  D-Day for us was the Cross and the empty tomb.  Satan has been dealt his death blow.  We’ve read the book, we know how it ends.

Rev 20:10 – “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”

  1. Confront the enemy  2 Cor 10:3-5 – “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”.  The truth of God is one of our greatest weapons.  We operate in divine power.

There are realms we operate in.  Most believers tend to think this is what we face …

Realm of God                    Son                  Father             Holy Spirit


Physical Realm                        Believers                     Non-Believers

 

But the reality is this …

 

Realm of God                                Son                  Father             Holy Spirit


Spiritual Realm                   Angels                Holy Spirit            Satan & Demons


Physical Realm                             Believers                     Non-Believers

 

Surveys indicate up to 2/3 of believers don’t believe in a personified Satan.  Maybe there is “darkness” or “some evil force” but not a personalized evil.  Satan does exist and he demonizes believers trying to bring pain, frustration, oppression and spiritual bondage.

If you take Satan on alone, you’ll lose.  Why?  Because you operate in different realms But… Eph 2:6-7 “He’s raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the Heavens, in Christ Jesus”.  Jesus gave authority to His followers to heal and cast out demons.  When we come at Satan in Christ’s authority, he loses.  Here’s a great picture of this from the movie War Room…

Men, you possess the power and spiritual authority to go to battle for your wife, for your children, for your home in the name and power of Jesus!

This is going to matter someday, one day.  One day, it’ll matter.  Right now, it might not.  Right now, your life may be great.  Smooth sailing.  Quickly, you find yourself back up on your high horse.  The devotionals go by the side.  You get back up on your throne to run your life.  You’re not in the Word.  Not journaling.  Things with your wife are going good.  You’ve put to the side those things that fill you with the Spirit.

One day, it’s going to matter.  The question is, where do you want to be when it matters?  Not if, but when.  Do you want to be practicing these disciplines, exercising your faith and being prepped for war?  Or do you want to be complacent?

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.

Manschool starts back Jan 25th

The Tribe will come back together on Wednesday January 25th at 6am.

This season of Manschool will be quite a bit different than the past.  It’s going deeper.  To get the most out of this, you’re going to need to commit.  Rather than “sitting”, you’re going to need to be “all in”.

It is time to step it UP a notch.  The men of Christ Community need to stepUP into the “more” we talk so frequently about.  God is stirring and moving in our church.  The Prayer Week this past week was A M A Z I N G.  It wasn’t prayer … it was revival.  Frankly, I hope this is how we do Prayer week from now on.  If you were there, you were richly fed and I think you felt the Father’s presence.

I only went to the last two of the four sessions.  It was an “investment” to commit to go and man, what a return on investment I got.  I wish I had done all four.

I say that as an analogy to what you can expect in Manschool this Spring.  To receive, you’re going to have to invest.  We’ll be more in the Word than previous sessions.  There will be more teaching and less videos.  The small groups are going to be even more important and the group leaders will shoulder more of the responsibility.  You will need be prepared to dig deep, bring your Bible and a notebook.  If you will do the work, you’ll see the reward.

I am excited but I am also in awe of what is to come.  I am humbled.  My word for 2017 is “Dirt”.  Touched on this some in last few Manschool’s but boy, God has really been after me on this since we last gathered.  Dirt.  You ride along on the high horse of who you are.  The education you have, the job, the home, the friends, the family … the man.  And the longer you ride that horse, the more you forget about God.  The more you lose sight of gratitude and the harder it is to grasp Grace.  And then, if you’re lucky, God comes along and knocks you off that high horse.  Pardon my French but He knocks your ass off the horse.  Face down in the dirt.  Lip bleeding , eyes crusted with tears and dirt, you start to lift your head up out of the dirt.  And Jesus is there extending a hand, “Get up son, we’ve got some things to talk about.”  And in that process, your world is realigned.  You see just how far off the mark you’ve been.  You see the posing.  You see how you value things more than you value Him.  You see how a few nights at worship is FAR more satisfying than “I’m tired and just want to come home from work and veg out”.  When we have these Saul to Paul moments, God is reshaping us and turning us away from the path of our choosing and placing us on the path He needs us to serve on.  It isn’t fun.  No fun.  But after this thing happens, you start to understand gratitude a bit better and you are reintroduced to Grace.  None of us deserve anything we have.  It all belongs to God.  Your money, your job, your church, your children, your future.  It’s all His.  And when we start to think it’s all about us, we’re in deep trouble.

God is stirring.  He is moving.  These next two years at Christ Community are going to be amazing.  An Awakening has been started and it’s going to be terrifying, thrilling, life-altering and community-changing.

the question for you is – are you willing to do the hard work?  will you invest?  will you go wherever He sends you or give up all that you think you must have to follow Him?