Welcome

Fellowship Monrovia Thursday Men’s Discipleship Group

Resource Center

This is not an official FM website but instead a personal endeavor to provide a space for resources, prayer and reflection on our shared journey of discipleship.

There is a unique type of encouragement and empowerment that comes only when men come together in the common pursuit of God’s healing with expectation of discovering God’s personal call on their life.

Whether battling addictions or walking in freedom and giving back, this is not a realm we ever outgrow or complete this side of heaven. It can however be like a favorite pub or table at your favorite restaurant; always welcoming and filled with relationships that breath life into the soul.

So pull up chair, you’re among friends, brothers, you are family in Christ.

As Iron Sharpens Iron – So One Man Sharpens Another

Proverbs 27:17

 

                     Continue to scroll down for the most recent blogs…

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Repost: The Cost of Discipleship

For those of you who made the Locker Room October 7th you were treated to Pastor Michael bringin the heat. His heart for pressing into the hard battles and facing our own fears, weakness and brokkenness is a powerful message.

Even if you saw it I recommend watching the video and check out what happens with the camera angles at 9 minutes in: God literally is a lighting specialist!

https://madeforfellowship.com/sermons/the-locker-room-october-2017/

locker room

And from that message I was inspired to write this blog entry…

The Cost of Discipleship

Luke 14:28  For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?

Counting the Cost

I’ve shared my testimony before –  sexually and physically abused in childhood, a rebellious drug addicted teenager, sober and successful but oh so worldly through 20’s and 30’s, and a decade long relapse with alcohol that ended with a spectacular Saul to Paul conversion at the age of 45.

Nearly 5 decades of living apart from God where Jesus was completely unknown to me. For much of that I called myself “spiritual” and depending upon the social circle at the time would even call myself a Christian, but I never knew Christ.

The excitement and pure joy to discover first-hand that Jesus is real at the age of 45 created in me a nearly unquenchable and limitless thirst and zeal for Jesus and the Gospel… in the beginning.

That was January 2011 and there is no doubt that He instantly went to work on the decades of lies and false narratives that I’ve been living in. From Celebrate Recovery to bible studies and Every Man’s Battle workshops, John Eldredge’s ministries and Ted Robert’s Pure Desire… all resources speaking into the brokenness and revealing Christ’s way as the way to the New Life that is so longed for.

That began nearly 7 years ago and as I contemplate my role today as a “discipleship/recovery leader” and yet still see a broken image looking back at me in the mirror I can’t help but feel like a Pharisee/hypocrite.

Isn’t it supposed to get easier with time? As God ministers to my brokenness aren’t I supposed to be maturing? Sure I lead multiple men’s groups and pray, journal & devote daily yet it seems the childhood traumas and strongholds continue to have a voice; continue to jack up my emotions and make me feel neglected, rejected, unworthy, weak and shameful.

There is something so incredibly appealing about the fire in a new believers soul. They shine a light and seemingly effortlessly shout the Good News from the rooftops. And how easy it is to make promises in that early Zeal.

“I’m all in God, use me”

And we are not alone in that zeal

Matthew 26:35  But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.”

Matthew 26:70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.

 

Matthew 26:72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”

 

Matthew 26:74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”  Immediately a rooster crowed.

I get so disappointed at times with just how short of the cross I come up in my own life. I get road rage, there are still battles with lust at times, I avoid situations out of fear, I hold resentments when things don’t go my way, I unwittingly resort to control and manipulation to try and make situations more favorable to me and my comfort levels instead of allowing God to work through situations and people the way He chooses. There are seasons of isolation and pushing others away who I value and trust to speak into my life.

broken mirror

In all those circumstances God is faithful in his mercy and won’t let those actions go unnoticed and I’m given the opportunity to confess, repent and if truly blessed I can make direct amends to those I have hurt with my actions.

The reality is we will never be anything more than broken mirrors… 

light bearer

 …but even a broken mirror reflects light. 

We are called to simply reflect the image and light of the God who created us. And honestly I think the more broken we are the more glorious the refraction of light become off the many jagged angles of our sin and despair.

For those of us who profess Jesus Christ as Savior we are saved. And for those of us who profess Jesus Christ as Lord we are given power to overcome.

We will never be or do either of those things perfectly… never. But gratefully it is not our light we are called to shine, or our image we are called to reflect.

Luke 17:3-4 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

The Good News is we cannot out-sin the Cross of Christ. But the reality is with that the Good News of salvation comes with a calling on our lives to die to self and live sacrificially for the Glory of God in sharing the Good News of Christ and making disciples.

Luke 14:26-27  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

The cost comes at us never being complacent with our own sin.

The cost comes in being poured out as a drink offering to those who are still suffering.

The cost comes at being willing the share the Gospel with unbelievers, to offer them the hope, mercy, grace and love of a Gracious Savior who loved us first.

The cost comes at giving up our plans for our Saturday and instead responding to the call of someone asking for help.

The cost comes at staying in that difficult marriage because it’s the vow you made before God to love that person through their difficult times as they are to love you through yours.

The cost comes when you leave that high-paying job because management is unethical.

The cost comes when you actually stop and pray with someone in the moment instead of just saying “I will pray for you”.

The cost comes in tithing when you don’t have the money, or donating to a needy family or cause just because God put the situation in front of you and gave you the means to help.

The cost comes in giving up your retirement plans to care for that sick child or parent even if they don’t “deserve it”.

The cost comes in giving up on the overtime so you can come home and spend time with your family.

The cost comes at never giving up on breaking the strongholds of addictions.

The cost comes at getting help dealing with the childhood trauma’s and not just trying to “buck up” and pretend they aren’t causing landmines in your life even many decades later.

The cost even comes with giving up your right to play victim over the bad things that happened to you in your past used to justify your bad behaviors today.

Being a believer in Jesus is a beautifully freeing thing, but it frees us to dive into the hard things of life and fight for eternal causes… not just go back to our old shallow insignificant lives seeking self pleasure, wealth, power and prestige.

Luke 9: 23-29  And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 

Sadly we can become very misled that being a disciple will make all the bad stuff go away. On my heart this morning is for us to take this opportunity to count the cost… it isn’t easy but we are given the strength to press in and press on, thank you Jesus!!

Father God your word is clear: Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We are called to touch the lives of others, in spite of our own brokenness. We will never be whole but that only magnifies the ways in which Your light can shine through us. Help us this day Father see ourselves as You see us. Help us this day Lord respond to live in love the way You intend. Help us this day believe in what we can do because of the price You paid to purchase our freedom. We thank you Lord Jesus for the opportunities (not burdens) we have today to shine Your light into a broken world. Help us Father consider the cost you paid so we may willingly and joyfully seek all this for Your glory by Your strength and in Your precious name… 

Posted in Discipleship, Recovery, Waking the Dead | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus is Healer

I was enraged by their sinful greed;
I punished them, and hid my face in anger,
yet they kept on in their willful ways.
I have seen their ways, but I will heal them;
I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners,
creating praise on their lips.
Peace, peace, to those far and near,”
says the Lord. “And I will heal them.”    Isaiah 57:17-19

healer

As we press through the deep waters of recognition of our own brokenness in the first part of chapter 8 of Waking the Dead we now find ourselves turning the corner as it were… and not a minute too soon as far as I’m concerned.

This week we drill into the truth and wisdom that Jesus came not only to save and set the captives free but to heal, and heal completely.

Do you believe that? Or is there some cynicism? Have you “been there done that” and haven’t found the healing yet? Maybe it’s because you haven’t truly met the Healer?

Come this week and press into Big Idea #2: Christ Offers Us More Than Forgiveness; He Offers To Heal Us

And as always check the WTD page for the most current worksheet. 

Posted in Recovery, Waking the Dead | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

We Are The Brokenhearted

Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. 2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. 3 To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

brokenhearted

What do you think of when you think of someone as being brokenhearted? The loss of a loved one or loss of health? A financial catastrophe, betrayal or broken relationship?

Isaiah 61:1 is the very passage Jesus kicked off his public ministry with (Luke 4:14-21) and He is speaking to something much deeper; that wounded place that exists in us all.

Those hurts, hangups and habits that drive us to addictions or fits of anger or immobilizing fear or compulsive eating or gambling or spending or lustful behaviors.

That thing that makes your skin crawl when someone touches you or that fear that prevents you from being more vulnerable or intimate.

It is a place that just can’t seem to be quenched and lives far beneath our conscious ability to control even if we condemn the behaviors or thoughts when we are in our rational mind.

As we press into Chapter 8 of Waking the Dead this week we will lean into Jesus’ incredible mission to love, resotore & redeem on a level we likely have never imagined before.

John 12:47 I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it.

The new worksheet is online – make sure and join us this week as we continue our journey through Waking the Dead.

Blessings in Christ brothers!

Posted in Fellowship, Recovery, Waking the Dead | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Our Hearts Are Good

Talk about a difficult lesson to finds it’s way into the soul! Our group study of Waking the Dead has been drilling into that concept for weeks (chapters). You think John Eldredge and Craig McConnell felt a pressing on their hearts as to the difficulty and importance of driving this message home?

Our heart has been the Devil’s playground for far too long!

As I believe all of Ransomed Heart ministry is about, it’s the restoration of a person’s soul in and through Christ. We have been made right with God by what He’s done for us, the atoning work of the Cross yet for so many truly self-professed Christians, especially the ones painfully aware of their own shortcomings and battles with an unrelenting sin nature, the message of reconciliation remains muddied by the lies of the Enemy and we feel the need to continue to prove ourselves worthy of love and valid for service.

That’s crap;  Our hearts are Good!!

Jesus pressed into Peters heart after his denial of Him. Peter’s shame had, in his mind, disqualified him from service to God. It had “undone” him and returned him back to the role of laborer, fisherman, invisible, alone. Peter let shame take himself out, Jesus didn’t.

This week yet again we will press into the critical need for us to desperately pursue Christ Himself for affirmation that the New Covenant was His to give us and never about our worthiness.

Romans 5:8  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

In fact, for those disciples with a growing awareness on the calling placed on them to serve God with whatever gifts He has given you, it holds more true than ever that our ministry will never be what it could be if we are still trying to offer God some type of exchange for His power and presence.

We simply need a stance of gratitude in Christ, awe of God and a deeply personal communion with The Holy Spirit and only then will we be equipped to respond to the Divine Appointments placed in our path each day.

But none of that matters if we can’t get to the place of KNOWING our heart is good!

Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

Don’t miss this Thursday as our shared journey of heart restoration continues as we learn to press into Christ and lean on others.

And why are we doing this? For the glory of God is man fully alive!

man fully alive

Posted in Discipleship, Recovery, Waking the Dead | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

What Is That To You?

John 21:21-22  When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” 22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

john21-22

Peter, Peter, Peter… boy he sure modeled what it is to be scolded by the Lord often ha ha. How grateful I am that we get to know him so well, for I too suffer from foot-in-mouth disease and misdirected heart syndrome on a regular basis.

So as I was reading this passage (vs 15-25) I was more focused on how Jesus was restoring Peter’s heart. Peter had taken himself out of the bigger narrative due to shame and feeling unworthy.

It’s a good message for those who know they have been called but yet so often feel like they come up short time and time again (like me). When Jesus named Peter “The Rock” He did it full well of knowing where he would glorify God and where he would serve himself through fear, pride, ignorance, anger or apathy. Peter’s behavior never put Peter’s calling in jeopardy, he simply needed to be redirected and restored by a loving and grace-filled Savior.

So funny how quickly we can fall back into our old patterns so soon after being restored!

Just a few verses earlier “Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” and immediately after that he’s now questioning Jesus John’s fate.

How easy is it to get so wrapped up in our ministry, family or workplace that we find ourselves preoccupied with how to help “them” get better” or “do” better. But how much did I need to hit my own proverbial wall at 1000 mph before I surrendered and cried to to Jesus?

Sometimes our best intentions can be the very thing delaying someone else’s relationship with Christ. It usually takes the hidden agenda of co-dependency. Sure we mean well, but…

I have been struggling lately with CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) which is basically unexplained daytime tiredness, weakness and a general nagging exhaustion. During a week’s vacation that I’m taking to recenter and refocus on the only One that matters it doesn’t surprise me that He used His word to expose my heart.

And I’ve felt Him asking…

“You have given me your son a hundred times George, when will you believe I’ve got him” 

“You pray for men and women in Recovery Groups, when are you going to trust that I’m guiding them just as I am you”

“You pray for the homeless, the sick, the lost, the broken, the leaders… when are you going to actually believe that the great I AM is on the throne”

I don’t think He is suggesting I stop praying for people and their situations however I do believe He is revealing the way I pray without belief.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see

Gee, if I ever wondered why I run around stressed out all the time I’d say this is a good starting point.

My takeaway is to become more intentional in recognizing that when I’m ruminating on a problem or situation that I need to question my perspectives and motivations.

Am I focusing on how best to offload the stuff I can’t do onto Him?

Am I looking for the things that I can do under His power?

Or am I trying to change someone else’s experiences and behaviors so I don’t have to worry about them. Or is there something else that I desire out of changing THEIR situation?

But if we’ve prayed for them, or even better WITH them, then what business is it of ours to continue worrying about the manner in which God is guiding them.

We simply participate, Jesus is the one who rescues.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

Father God, we need your help this day and every day. I say I believe then act as if I don’t. I say I trust then go back to manipulating people or circumstances way outside of my control based on my own understandings of what I think is best. Forgive me Lord, and remind me what true humility, faith, wisdom, courage and surrender are supposed to look like. I can’t know if my life pleases You but I pray that my desire to please You, pleases You. May we all live simply for Your glory, in Jesus precious name we pray… 

[In chapter 7 of John Eldredge’s book Waking the Dead he poses the question “Does trust come easily for you? Are you at peace, full of a deep confidence in God? This blog entry is where I was led after pondering those questions.]

Posted in Discipleship, Prayer, Recovery, Waking the Dead | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Boundaries: Pray for Wisdom – FaithGateway

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

As the Twelve Step movement grows within the church, Christians in therapy and recovery voice a common confusion. Am I powerless over my behavior? If I am, how can I become responsible? What do I have the power to do?

The Twelve Steps and the Bible teach that people must admit that they are moral failures. Alcoholics admit that they are powerless over alcohol; they don’t have the fruit of self-control. They are powerless over their addiction, much like Paul was:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing… waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. — Romans 7:15Romans 7:19Romans 7:23

This is powerlessness. John says that we are all in that state, and that anyone that denies it is lying (1 John 1:8).

Though you do not have the power in and of yourself to overcome these patterns, you do have the power to do some things that will bring fruits of victory later:

  1. You have the power to agree with the truth about your problems. In the Bible this is called “confession.” To confess means to “agree with.” You have the ability to at least say “that is me.” You may not be able to change it yet, but you can confess.
  2. You have the power to submit your inability to God. You always have the power to ask for help and yield. You have the power to humble yourself and turn your life over to him. You may not be able to make yourself well, but you can call the Doctor! The humbling of yourself commanded in the Bible is always coupled with great promises. If you do what you are able — confess, believe, and ask for help — God will do what you are unable to do — bring about change (1 John 1:9James 4:7-10Matthew 5:3Matthew 5:6).
  3. You have the power to search and ask God and others to reveal more and more about what is within your boundaries.
  4. You have the power to turn from the evil that you find within you. This is called repentance. This does not mean that you’ll be perfect; it means that you can see your sinful parts as aspects that you want to change.
  5. You have the power to humble yourself and ask God and others to help you with your developmental injuries and leftover childhood needs. Many of your problematic parts come from being empty inside, and you need to seek God and others to have those needs met.
  6. You have the power to seek out those that you have injured and make amends. You need to do this in order to be responsible for yourself and your sin, and be responsible to those you have injured. Matthew 5:23–24 says,

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

On the other side of the coin, your boundaries help define what you do not have power over: everything outside of them! Listen to the way the serenity prayer (probably the best boundary prayer ever written) says it:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

In other words, God, clarify my boundaries! You can work on submitting yourself to the process and working with God to change you. You cannot change anything else: not the weather, the past, the economy — and especially not other people. You cannot change others. More people suffer from trying to change others than from any other sickness.

And it is impossible.

What you can do is influence others. But there is a trick. Since you cannot get them to change, you must change yourself so that their destructive patterns no longer work on you. Change your way of dealing with them; they may be motivated to change if their old ways no longer work.

Another dynamic that happens when you let go of others is that you begin to get healthy, and they may notice and envy your health. They may want some of what you have.

One more thing. You need the wisdom to know what is you and what is not you. Pray for the wisdom to know the difference between what you have the power to change and what you do not.

Excerpted with permission from Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, copyright Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

* * *

Your Turn

“God, clarify my boundaries!” What a poignant prayer for those of us who blur the lines in relationships! Today, let’s get in alignment with God in prayer submitting to Him and working with Him to change ourselves and not anyone else.

 

Source: Boundaries: Pray for Wisdom – FaithGateway

Posted in Recovery | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Wisdom Is Not Enough

Ephesians 1:17

17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

wisdom and revelation

There is no doubt that True Wisdom comes from God’s Word and the discernment of the Holy Spirit within. As we ask God for direction and strength He will speak to us.

John 10:3-4

3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

But what happens when that voice from deep within our soul seems to be crazy?

Abraham should kill his son? Moses needs to go get in Pharaohs face? Ananias needs to go lay hands hands on Saul (Paul) and pray for him??? Willingly reduce an army from 3200 to 300 and bang drums?!?!

Oftentimes personal revelation from God as to a certain path or plan of action can seem like the complete opposite of Wisdom. How do you discern? How do you hear from God? Do you even hear from God?

This Thursday (August 17)  we will press into these questions and more as we finish off Chapter 6 of Waking the Dead. 

Looking forward to seeing you there!

And if you’re following along Week 13 Study Notes are online

Posted in Discipleship, Waking the Dead | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment