Pay Attention … right here, right this moment, at this precise point along this journey, you need to guard your heart. The enemy is going to come in here and try to stop this from progressing. Feelings like “You know, all this stuff is nonsense” or “My heart is fine, I’m good, I don’t know what they are talking about” … all those sentiments of “Maybe this isn’t for me” … pay attention. If you’re getting this signal, we don’t believe that is from God. The enemy does not want you pushing into what we discussed this morning. This is the battle ground. This is ground zero. It’s the heart. The battle has been, is now and will for the rest of your life against and for … your heart.
I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. I hold fast to your statutes, O LORD; do not let me be put to shame. I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free. Psalm 119:30-32
“Thirsty hearts are those whose longings have been wakened by the touch of God within them.” AW Tozer
God first spoke to you in your heart. The Voice came and called out to you. He touched your heart and it stirred. It awakened something in you. And it was wild and passionate and exciting this awakening. You were bold and fresh and empowered by the call of God. The Voice still speaks to us. For many, it has become harder to hear – blanketed over by duty, religion, the voices of others, past hurts, the busyness of this life and the mediocrity of social media. But the Voice still speaks. “Aren’t you thirsty? Listen to your heart. There is something missing. There is something more…” It doesn’t feel religious. It doesn’t feel like a program. It feels reckless, unsettling and perhaps a bit wild. Perhaps we’ve heard it and chose to turn away. But it continues to call out – “Listen to me – there is something missing in all this. You long to be in a love affair, an adventure. You were made for something more. You know it.”
This is why we’re doing Manschool – it is a calling to the “more”. There is more. This is an effort to awaken men to an extraordinary life in Christ. It’s a grand, shared adventure. We’re doing this together. We ARE tribe. We are hearing testimonies like Brad Hicks’ last week. There is such power in your testimony. Such power when a man testifies – “I was once asleep but I’m now wide awake”. There is so much power in seeing a man “bring the Kingdom” in his workplace and stepping forward to lead other men to the extraordinary life. To God be all the glory for what we see happening in our midst.
Guys, you see it in your wives. They too are drawn to something more. They see Chip and Joanna Gaines on Fixer Upper – they see a couple in a shared adventure and it calls to them. The Voice calls to her through romantic movies, novels and beach walks and sunsets. It is there in all of us. God truly is romancing us – He’s calling out to our heart, to that primal place where our relationship with Him first began.
You need your heart. Life’s most important moments require us to have a present, awakened heart. Proverbs says, “Guard closely your heart for from it flows the wellspring of life.” The very waters of life come from your heart. If your heart is absent, what do you have to bring to your wife? If your heart is walled off, what do you have to give to your children? If you have silenced your heart and your formula for life is work, drivenness, accomplishment, duty and accountability groups, where will you experience life? Scripture has over 800 references to the heart. It must be mighty important. We first hear God in our heart. Our hearts erupted into life upon salvation and yet, through attrition and busyness and religion, many of us no longer hear God and we no longer ask God.
We try to find an outlet for this inner calling – we try to lose ourselves in our work, or we get a hobby that oftentimes consumes us. We have an affair or lead a fantasy life or turn to pornography. We start to love the juicy intrigues and the secrets of gossip. We make sure to keep enough distance between ourselves and others and even between ourselves and our own heart. We wall ourselves off and become men that are islands to themselves. Men doing life all by themselves. We escape from reality via Netflix, Facebook or Instagram. Our inner life has been divorced from our outer self – the one everyone else sees. Many of us have lost heart.
Beneath all this we feel restless, weary and … vulnerable.
God wants to speak to your heart through that little voice much, much more than we think is possible. Through prayers, scripture, scenery, music/worship and counsel from trusted allies, God speaks through your heart. Where the heart is stirred, God is speaking. Your heart is the key to the Christian life but sadly most of us pay more attention to the oil level in our car than we do what goes on in our hearts.
The Habitat of your heart – Your heart, like any other creature, requires a certain habitat to survive. A habitat that includes solitude, silence and a sacred place for meditation and reflection. We’ve touched on that – the sitting on your driveway at night watching the sunset. Finding your secluded spot in the woods by a creek where you can be restored. Turning off the TV and finding the Father in silence. Little by little, our culture has invaded the habitat of your heart taking up more of more of the protective acreage around it – territory that is intended to be there to sustain and nourish your heart.
All of us have had that experience at one time or another where, through the pain of life, we’ve lost heart. We’ve walked away from teachers or parents or a church or even sexual intimacy because of the pain striking a deep chord in us. We trusted and that trust was violated. And in that, we sensed that something important, perhaps the only thing important, had been explained away or tarnished or lost to us forever. Do you know that feeling? Do you know the feeling of “I will never get that trust back again?” — or – “I will never let myself be that vulnerable again”? All of this comes upon us as a prolonged, sustained assault against your heart eating up the protective acreage of the habitat of your heart.
Little boys running in the woods or adventuring down by the creek to fly fish – those boys were in touch with their hearts and what made them come alive. However, for us – starting very early through the pain, hurts and disappointments – life has taught us to ignore and distrust the deepest yearnings of our heart. Life, for the most part, teaches us to suppress our inner longings and to live only in the external world where efficiency and performance are everything. We have learned from parents, older brothers and peers, at school, on sports teams, at work and even in the church that something else is wanted from us other than our heart, which is to say, that which is most deeply us. To gain acceptance and approval, we comply. If we are wanted, if we matter, we’ve been trained to believe by a broken world that all that we are worth is what we can offer functionally. So we learn to offer only those parts of us that are approved – the compliant, well-behaved child. The child that keeps his room clean and doesn’t get in trouble. The good student. The loyal employee that doesn’t question. If we get approval from these things, they start to be all we offer.
We live out a very carefully crafted performance to gain or earn acceptance from those who represent life to us. We divorce ourselves from our heart and start to lead a double life – suppressing the heart and its call and living out only what we believe will make us appealing to the world around us. In our outer life, we live from ought – “I ought to do this” rather than from desire – “I want to do this” – and we manage our lives rather than enjoying the mystery of life.
Frederick Beuchner expresses it this way – “Our original shimmering self gets buried so deep we hardly live out of it at all … rather, we learn to live out of all the other selves which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather.”
The inner life, the story of your heart, is the life of the deep places within us, our passions and dreams, our fears and our deepest wounds. It is the unseen life, the mystery within – what Beuchner calls our “shimmering self”. It cannot be managed like a corporation. Your heart does not respond to principles and programs and efficiency. It responds to passion. Why else do movies like Braveheart, Gladiator, Robin Hood, The Sand Lot, A River Runs Through It and October Sky move us men so much? I believe they tap into this passion. They tap into the call to life, the call to live beyond self and the call to dream big – those things that God installed in us before the foundation of time. The same things that move you in these movies are the things that stirred you as a little boy – of adventure, of good vs. evil, of banding together with others on the shared adventure for good and of rescuing the beauty.
Every man you know has a story buried deep beneath the silt of life. To draw a man out, you must first dig for his story. Trust me, it’s there. He has dreams that have been dashed, hurts from his father, pain from failed love, heartache from losing trust or being abandoned. It’s there. By digging into his story, you’re excavating his heart, unearthing it, finding and freeing it. This is why TRIBE is so important. This is the noble quest we are all on here – it is to fight for other men’s hearts so that they may know freedom and allow their true heart to once again beat and breath and dream. God continues to whisper to all of us wooing us with this sacred call. Awake. Come alive. Dream.
Next week – “Who told you that you were naked?” – we introduce warfare