Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The God of Your Father... (The 40 Year Old... Pt. 2)

I painted the last post with broad strokes of what it meant to be a man. Actually, it focused more on what the man crisis in our church looked like and what our children don't learn as a result of man-boys that happen to some how receive this amazing blessing called a family - you can read it HERE. So, over the next few post I'll try to nail down a couple areas that I feel like God has challenged me on in the past. Over the last few years He's revealed these things to me about being a man.

Over the last year God has challenged me to pray this prayer over my boys, "God, I pray that my boys would know you. That they would come to know you, not as the God of their father, but as their God. I pray that your Holy Spirit would capture their heart and draw them to you and I pray Lord Jesus that they would know you intimately as THEIR savior." I've prayed it over them privately in my devotional time, in their room after they've fallen asleep and while praying with them. They know that my hope for them is that they would have a personal and intimate experience with the God that I lovingly serve. That's where being a man starts...at the feet of Christ (really that leads into submission...SPOILER ALERT - that's the next blog).

The way God prompted me to pray that prayer for my sons was through my devotionals. What? Does that mean God speaks to you through the Bible? Uh...YES! I started to realize that a lot of Israelites referred to God as the "God of Abraham" or the "God of our fathers".  As I read, I started to see that there were some very specific points at which the "God of Abraham" became Isaac's God and the "God of Isaac" became Jacob's God. In Genesis 26:3 God confirms He is with Isaac. Then in Genesis 28:13 God confirms He is with Jacob. Actually, I think the point at which God became Jacob's God was after he wrestled Him in Genesis 32, at which point his name was changed to Israel. Prior to that in Genesis 32:9 he prays, “O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac..." But later, in Genesis 33:20 "he built an altar and named it El-Elohe-Israel" which means "God, God of Israel."

This happened with the Disciples in the New Testament too. During His ministry, Jesus was referred to by many different names and God was also still called the God of Abraham at times. But in John 20:28 after touching Jesus' wounds, Thomas exclaims, "My Lord and my God!" That was his intimate experience; that's when Jesus became HIS God.

So I started noticing that there were specific moments when God interacted with people on an individual level and became their God. That's what I want for my boys. However, I did not notice that without noticing that until He had that "moment" with them, each son still knew God. They knew God because they saw that their fathers knew God. They knew God's voice, what He was like, what He expected because they saw their fathers interact with God. They knew to follow God because they saw their fathers follow God.

Your kids watch what you do. Often times the faults we see in our kids are simply reflections of us. That doesn't mean that if you do everything perfect that your kid will grow up perfect. Even then, your kid will still make the decisions they're going to make and you can't stop that. But, what you reflect matters. Anger reflects anger, hate reflects hate, cynicism reflects cynicism and it's the same with love and patience and God.

As men in the church we should do everything possible to reflect Jesus to our children. It should be our goal to prepare our children for an intimate experience with God. We should teach them what His voice sounds like, what His character is like and what He expects from us. That way, when He calls them to Himself they know it's Him and can answer. Then He become their God.

Trying to be more like Jesus,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The 40 Year-Old...Failure to launch…The Notebook!

First, let me open this post by saying this is about men being Men…and I get to write this post for two reasons: 1 – It’s my blog and I get to post what I want and 2 (and more importantly) - I’ve been this or should I say, not been this. I’m not proud of it, but I was and I’m not anymore. The fact that in the past I’ve struggled through this, skirted responsibility to lead my family and often chose the selfish and highly immature road to personal comfort qualifies me to relate to this sad & pitiful way of life, but does not qualify me to write this post. What qualifies me to write this post is the fact that Christ has called this out in me, led me toward confession and repentance and drastically changed what I understand it to mean to be a man and to lead.

It used to be that I thought a man was the guy that pushed his way through others. The guy that could make people feel smaller than him or get others to accept his point of view, even if by force or embarrassment. The guy that cursed the most and loudest, viewed women as a means to their personal happiness and pleasure, and could out drink the other guys was my view of a man. That stuff was SO far from the truth that I can’t even see it from where I’m now standing. If you’d have asked me then, I wouldn’t have said all that. That wasn’t all consciously thought out back then. And at the time I didn’t know I had the wrong idea of what a man is supposed to be. I thought I was tough, virile and confident. Really that stuff amounts to cowardly, disrespectful and cocky. None of that makes you a man…at best it makes you a boy, at worse…a predator.

I know better now, it cost me a lot to learn, but I know what God calls us to be as men. 1 Timothy 6:11 & 12 says:

But you, man of God, flee from all this (talking about the 5 prior chapters), and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

So here’s the point of this blog…we have a man problem in the church. Not that we don’t have males coming to church (that’s an issue too, but that’s also another blog), but that most of the males in our churches aren’t men. They resemble, almost identically, those outside the church. This is a problem because as Christians we are called to be different than the world. Sadly our culture glorifies this man-boy idea. “Romantic Comedies” like Failure to Launch, The Notebook, and The 40 Year-Old Virgin make failure to progress into manhood funny, cute and quirky. They glorify adultery, living at home and discontentment with “growing up.”

But when we fail to be Men, then our kids fail to grow into men. It’s because of this we have guys that grow up and refuse to lead their families, that can’t commit to a career or that can’t commit to one woman. They readily move to the bed of another woman, because they’re “just not in love with their wife anymore.” They live at home and refuse the responsibility of the “real world” and that same refusal to grow up is translated to their children when they finally decide to “settle down.” Their sons never learn what it means to be a gentleman (because chivalry is dead), what it means to protect their loved ones, to stand firm and strong in their convictions, or to lead with sensitivity and confidence. Their daughters don’t know that they should EXPECT for a man to treat them respectfully and with honor, that they are worth being pursued not as an object of sex, but as an woman to be admired and adored, that they should slam the door in the face of any man that even attempts to belittle them or make them feel inferior and that God says they are lovely and beautiful and worth every bit of devotion capable of being given by a man of God.

The following video is aimed at Pastors being men that lead the other men in our church. And while one of the best examples of a man in the church ought to be the Pastor, THE example of a man in the home has to be the husband/father in that home. The growing of a man starts in the home. Notice the stuff that Pastor Patrick says…One third of guys in the 20s & early 30s live with their parents (a 100% increase in the last 20 years), guys 18 – 42 change jobs an average of 11 times, the average age of video game users is 35 yrs old and every second of every day $3000 is spent on pornography…check out the video…

The current state of the men in The Church breaks my heart. We’re supposed to be the example of a man to those outside the church, but more important than that, we’re supposed to be the example of a man to our wife and kids. I have other stuff to say, but this post is already too long. I’ll post another one at the least; maybe more…we’ll see how it develops.

In Him,

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Weight of His Mercy

I was listening to Kim Walker sing “How He Loves Us” the other day and there is a line that goes, “Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.” I had heard that line a number of times before and considered what it meant in my head, but the other day it really hit my heart that there is a weight to His mercy. It is so heavy, but it isn’t a crushing weight. The very purpose of it is to bend us toward God.

I think the weight is more specifically about the effective influence of His mercy. Mercy itself is the withholding of deserved punishment. When we consider the seriousness and magnitude of sin and what we deserve because of it is death (Romans 6:23), then God’s mercy takes on a whole new importance. Suddenly that mercy, that He so readily gives, becomes a reflection of His intense love for us and the evidence that He desires that we not be separated from Him. But there is still the need for justice. The price for sin still needs to be paid. Because of God’s holiness, we cannot enter His presence soiled by sin. There had to be a way to atone for that, to reconcile us. That’s where Jesus’ crucifixion comes in. His death on the cross is the singular, most beautiful crashing together of both God’s justice and mercy. After all, the whole of the Gospel centers on that event.

But I digress, what Christ did and God’s mercy should weigh so heavy on our hearts that our only response can be to humbly submit to Him and surrender all of us to His call. For some that’s when the crushing comes. Psalms 51:17 says, “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” This gets into a whole other blog (I kind of wrote one that addresses that awhile back…HERE). The point is, there is heaviness to God’s mercy, an influence purposed on drawing our souls to Him. It is meant to weigh on our hearts so much so, that our only response can be to approach Him to receive the joy and peacefulness of that unmerited favor called grace. And the beauty part about His mercy, it begins “afresh each morning.” (Lam 3:23)

In awe of His mercy,

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

REPOST: the road to brokenness . . . (By: Thomas Hogan)

This is a post from one of my best friends in the world, Thomas Hogan. I've had the opportunity to serve with him in ministry, to experience a lot of brokenness with him (mostly in my life) and figure out just how very important Christ is in both those circumstances.  Regardless, brokenness is his thing (kinda mine too) and this is too great a post for me not to re-post.  You can read the original HERE, or check it out below...

the road to brokenness . . .

. . . the real attack comes when things get slow and monotonous, when training and dedication seem like they haven't yet or are not quite paying off. that is the time that intensity is needed.
I've been running pretty intensely (in the physical) for this fitness assessment I have coming up and i can tell you that during a 5k there is a specific point where you look at your feet and wonder "Why am I doing this, is this really going to help, i could just lighten up and i'll get to the same place, right?" that is the precise moment that gutting up and pushing harder becomes the key to success.

in the same way all of my friends who have "fallen" or experienced devastating defeat in their lives are self-admittedly the ones who gave up for just a little bit. their intentions were usually noble, "everyone needs rest", "it's just not fun anymore", "I'm tired of not getting anywhere" "man, this chick is worth it". But the Christian Walk is a daily fight, if this reality isn't accessed and lived in early on, you will never be prepared for this journey. spirituality isn't something that "comes naturally" (that's why it's called "Supernatural") ask a monk how long enlightenment takes, find a shaman who isn't ready to sacrifice.

Christians are easily overly concerned with other's salvation and less focused with our own, but the opposite is necessary to effectively be "in Christ".
Phil. 2:12, Matt. 24:13

Well said for sure.  You have to remember, there is a part of our relationship with Christ that is meant for other people, but there is also a part that is meant just for us.  You have to be selfish with your time with God.  Jesus was.  He knew His need to be alone with the Father and many times "went off to a solitary place, where he prayed."

In Him,

Friday, March 4, 2011

It Was Always Her!

Originally this blog was meant to chronicle what God was doing in me as He walked me in a New Direction for my life. Eventually it morphed into what God was teaching me largely related to ministry & leadership. Today I’m moving back toward what God is doing in my life.

Today…I write about HER!!!!

She is an amazing soul. First and foremost, she loves God; she has a deeply intimate relationship with Jesus and her anointing by the Holy Spirit is readily apparent. Her heart for people is incredible; she extends grace the way that God gives it to her. She is creatively brilliant; she writes (if you want a peek into her psyche check out her blog Daily Offensive…she signs her posts with a heart), she makes jewelry, she’s a photographer, and has an amazing eye for art (I’m pretty sure her brain operates in art mode most times). She has the best sense of humor (she gets my sense of humor so that may not be saying much), a laugh that’s SO infectious, the best Eeeeee!!! ever, and she’s an amazing mom. She is also absolutely gorgeous; she has THE most captivating eyes I’ve ever set mine on and that smile…oh that smile, it melts me every time.
Most call her Sarah, a few call her Sarahface, one handsome little boy calls her mama, but I…I call her My Love.
When I was involuntarily thrust back into singleness (about 2 ½ years ago) I sat down and made a list. This list was the collection of needs and wants I would hope for in the next woman that God brought into my life. Once compiled, I set it aside and surrendered to the workings of God in my life. He quickly made clear that what I needed and wanted in a wife was second to what He needed and wanted in my life and what would be expected of me as a husband and father
Over the next two years God transformed everything, from the way I lived my life, what I believed and the way my heart and mind work. (I won’t go too deep into what God has done, but if you’re curious, here are a couple blogs that review the two years – Year OneYear Two.) So that list lay dormant for two years while God worked me over. During that time I met this sparkly eyed woman that had just accepted a position as the Executive Assistant at Element Church. I met My Love in early June 2010. At that time God was in the middle of a particularly rough working over of my heart, so I met Sarah and thought nothing more of her than a new co-worker.
As the months progressed, so did our friendship. I started to realize the amount we had in common was not only ridiculous, but almost unreal. Round about September I had finally surrendered to God on some ministry decisions I had been struggling with (i.e. resisting God’s call to). Almost the minute I surrendered that stuff to God I was hit with this overwhelming NEED (not want…that was there too, but this was definitely a need) to be with Sarah. I needed to be in her life, to serve her and love her. At the time I actually prayed against those feelings. I didn’t want to be disappointed and didn't want to step out before it was full of God. Eventually I surrendered those feelings to God and embraced them quietly because it wasn’t time yet. So, nothing was ever said. We never discussed it, I never shared it. Our friendship sat as it was and would continue to grow.
Then in mid-October I had the honor of escorting a friend to his final resting place in Pennsylvania. For months prior to his passing I would sit in his hospital room and watch as his wife just sat there. Helpless, scared and frustrated she just sat there. To me, her willingness to just sit with him, as he lay dying, was the greatest display of love I’d ever seen. Her willingness to just sit with the one she loved, just so that he knew she loved him, pierced my heart. It was then, in a hospital room in Denver, that my need to be with Sarah turned into the realization that I would sit there for her. All of the sudden I knew that I loved her, that I would just sit and BE there for her and that I wouldn’t want anyone but her sitting at my bedside. I knew then that I was going to marry her. But alas, it still wasn’t time. Nothing was said and our friendship would remain just that for another couple months.
By the end of December I couldn’t not be with her anymore, so my friend Sarah became My Love. So where are we now? We’re ENGAGED! I know what you’re thinking, “What? You haven’t even dated THAT long!” Ultimately the time doesn’t matter. If I hadn’t sought God on this over and over, this post wouldn’t even have been typed. But I have and it’s right for us. She’s my best friend. We’ve built an amazing relationship as friends first, we’re cut from the same cloth and I love her more than I can ever promise her. And what of my list…in Sarah, God has fulfilled every need and want that I voiced on my list, every one that went unspoken for fear that I was expecting too much and every one that I didn’t think or know to ask for.

Both Sarah and I know that marriage isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. We’ve both been there and fully realize the work it requires. We also know the power of Christ in us and in our relationship. Our success in marriage fully rests in our submission to Him first, then each other and in that…we’re gonna make it Till the End! (Plug for Pastor Adam - BlogAlbum. FTR, he’s been amazing accountability for me through this.)
So Blessed,