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…

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Wild At Heart Intro Series 2018

New Season Starts February 8, 2018

A new season is upon us brothers. As we take this time to refresh with the original Wild at Heart boot camp material we step into it with new expectations. Not only will God meet us in this shared journey but this year we will also be moving directly into the Advance Series right after this one.

Remember that our time together in these studies is only the huddle. As we press into gaining true humility and integrity, we also are to discover who we are in Christ and begin to press into our individual callings, whatever form that takes.

On behalf of Craig and myself, we welcome you to our 2018 deep dive into soul restoration and look forward to sharing in the amazing testimonies of God’s character development in each of us and the exciting new discoveries and Divine Appointments He ordains for us all.

Blessings in Christ,

George

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Repost: What Kind Of Soil Am I

Hey brothers, only 1 week left in our study of Waking the Dead. Hard to believe we took nearly a year to unpack the material. It has touched my soul deeply and the implications reach far and wide as I seek to implement what we have learned.

I will be updating our website soon but I wanted to share this blog I just finished on my other site: prayerfully it will resonate with some of you as we all press into our shared Journey of Redemption.

Blessings in Christ

George


What Kind Of Soil Am I

Luke 8:11-15

11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

The Seeds

Gratitude is again beginning to fill my soul. It seems like it has been such a cold and dark season. Not that I haven’t still been engaged with God’s calling or attending to my responsibilities at work and home… but I haven’t been thriving; it’s been hard.

I let New Years roll right on by without even the consideration of celebration or setting resolutions which is unusual for me. I’m all about the message of renewal. In fact I recall doing a blog mid last year reflecting on how every morning should feel like New Years Day.

Lamentations 3:22-23 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

But there has been no fire for several months. Much like the Book of Revelations and the warnings to the early churches, I was going through the motions but it was seemingly more and more clear that I was losing heart for my first love.

So this past weekend I basically went off the grid and got busy in fighting to rekindle my hunger and thirst for The Lord. I forced myself into prayer when I didn’t “feel” like it. And opened God’s word when I’d rather play an IOS game or watch Netflix. I meditated and journaled instead of going out to lunch with the guys. If I had to pick a single word to describe the weekend it would be:

INTENTIONALITY

And trust me when I say my efforts were opposed. Spiritual warfare is real and I believe Satan more than anything uses distractions, busyness and wondering thoughts to keep us disengaged from Holy Spirit within us who is always longing to connect to Christ and God’s Word.

External distractions such as phone calls, nagging todo lists, commotion with the neighbors. And internal distractions such as feelings of anxiety, boredom, lust, materialism…. just a relentless pull to disengage.

But I remained steadfast (mostly) and yet continued to feel anxiety all weekend, until well into Sunday evening when something clicked inside. A sense of well-being began to creep in over my soul. Not tied to anything internal or external; it felt like an awareness that God was close, that He saw my struggles and was celebrating my efforts.

And it wasn’t like I was trying to fight through a forest to find God on the other side of the trees; it was more like I was trying to break through a fog that shielded the God who was right next to me the whole time.

So what does this have to do with the parable of the sewer of seed? Thanks for asking! When I’m in “the good place” I wake at 5 am with little trouble feeling nothing more than expectation that God will lead me into His heart and Word with a message for my morning. I haven’t done that for a very long time, morning have been the hardest hitting the snooze alarm until I’m late for work.

But the last 2 days have been a renewal of that routine.

My NLT STUDY BIBLE explains this parable like this:

Footpath” people, like many of the religious leaders, refuse to believe God’s message. “Rocky soil” people, like many in the crowds who followed Jesus, believe his message but never get around to doing anything about it. “Thorn patch” people overcome by worries and the lure of materialism, leave no room in their lives for God. “Good soil” people, in contrast to all the other groups, follow Jesus no matter what the cost.

As I reflect on why I spent so much time in darkness lately God led me directly to that parable this morning and I instantly realized that in different seasons I experience all of those states. And the reason for the veil over my soul of late has been the “thorn patch” of doubt, worry, anxiety, striving, people-pleasing, wrestles with self worth and questioning if I’m living “on task” with my purpose and calling.

These voices have incredible power to dull the sense and awareness of the Holy Spirit who resides within us. He is NEVER far away, He lives IN US!

Matthew 6:33   But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

In hindsight I now recognize the slow fade I’ve been doing. More Netflix and less bible. More facebook and less journaling. More ios games and less prayer. More overtime and less time for God. My priorities got bamboozled!

It feels great to blog again this morning; it’s been months! I’m less concerned about who may connect with this entry and more overjoyed that I have the desire and intentionality to start my day connecting to The Source again. Prayfully however I do hope some of my old readers are still out there. It is rewarding to know our efforts to be transparent and share God’s faithfullness in our shared Journey of Redemption can be met with a familiarity among strangers; people who can identify.

1 Corinthians 10:13 
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

The way out of the darkness is discipline; having the fortitude and will to stay in pursuit of God at all cost. We must fight through all the schemes of the Enemy who seeks to steal, kill and destroy.

So how is it with your soul this morning? Do you feel deeply connected the Source of all creation; the One who paid everything for you?

If not do you think it is He who pulled away? Is there room for more intentionality in your walk? Lord knows there was (and is) in mine.

He is faithful

 

Father I am incredibly grateful that you didn’t leave me in the weeds. I see now that I simply let the locusts steal what you had given me. The only life worth living is one deeply rooted, connected and relying upon You for each breath and I admit Lord I am easily distracted; and the Enemy knows that. Forgive me my trespasses and sins of apathy toward our relationship Lord. To know You are there and to worship You with my life are two very different conditions of the heart. It is cold, dark and alone trying to do it alone and I don’t even know when or how I made that fork in the road. Lead me Lord, help keep me focused and intentional not on the tasks I have to do for You, but in maintaining the relationship I have with You. I praise you in the mighty name of Jesus Christ…

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Because Quick Little Prayers Won’t Do It Anymore

pray without ceasing

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, my heart at this moment is fully alive! It’s as-if I was ambushed by the Holy Spirit.

My weekend was nothing special, in fact quite the opposite I would’ve thought. I’m not proud to say I exchanged church on Sunday and our monthly Men’s Group (Locker Room) on Saturday for 2 days at Magic Mountain with my friend of 30+ years and his son (my godson).

I actually felt a little convicted about replacing and not simply adding those activities to my weekend schedule but knowing how grace works I figured I was going to hold it against myself more than God was going to.

When I got home I was so exhausted I fell asleep at 4pm and slept for over an hour; one of those deep, creases and lines on the faces and drool on the pillow type sleeps (TMI, sorry).

When I awoke however I found myself hungering to press into the Waking the Dead material for next week and fired up Casting Crowns on Amazon Prime Music.

What God did with that space has been nothing short of a full-blown revival of Spirit; tears, praise, songs, worship… what a spectacular evening.

The major catalyst outside of the obviousness of God’s word and prayer is the following hand-out I created for the discipleship groups this week. It is nearly verbatim from the Waking the Dead Chapter 10 material however the act of typing out this document fed my soul deeply.

My desire is that you too may be inspired by God’s word and the suggested Daily Prayer to start each day claiming power and authority over the enemy who constantly pursues us.


A Warrior’s Prayers

Daily Submissions and Coverings

Paraphrased from Waking the Dead | John Eldredge | Chapter 10

“Because Quick Little Prayers Won’t Do It Anymore”

What follows is not a formula, but a model, an example. It might seem a bit more involved than the prayer most of us shoot up to God as we run out the door, but I promise you, this is fifteen minutes toward freedom! “

John Eldredge – Waking the Dead

Choose to Abide in Christ

This is not something that happens automatically, and we can lose connection with our Head (Col. 2:19) This is not a loss of Salvation, but a loss of that intimate connection to the Vine through which we receive his life!

Every morning we bring our lives fully back to Christ and under His Lordship. We must consecrate our whole being to Christ; Body (Rom 12:1), Soul (Luke 10:27), and Spirit (1 Cor. 6:17)

Lord hear my prayer

My dear Lord Jesus, I come to you now to be restored in You-to renew my place in You, my allegiance to You, and to receive from You all the grace and mercy I so desperately need this day. I honor You as my Sovereign Lord, and I surrender every aspect of my life totally and completely to you. I give you my body as a living sacrifice; I give You my heart, soul, mind, and strength; and I give you my spirit as well.

Cleansed by The Blood of Christ

Having consecrated ourselves, we now cleanse our lives with the blood of Christ-a very powerful weapon in this war. It washes us from our sins and the sins of others against us (1 John 1:9) It also disarms Satan (Rev 12:11).

The whole spiritual realm works under authority, so as we take our place under the headship of Christ, we extend our authority and covering over those who are under us.

Lord hear my prayer

I cover myself with Your blood-my spirit, my soul, and my body. And I ask Your Holy Spirit to restore my union with You, seal me in You, and guide me in this time of prayer. In all that I now pray, I include (my wife, children by name). Acting as their head, I bring them under my authority and covering, and I come under Your authority and covering. Holy Spirit, apply to them all that I now pray on their behalf.

We Humble Ourselves

Sin and Agreements are the major ways we give claim to the Enemy in our lives. Most sins fall under the category of:

Pride – Claiming independence from God, living in self-sufficiency

Idolatry – Giving our devotion to our fear or any part of the heart to something other than God

In this prayer we humble ourselves by declaring God’s rightful place in our lives. And we ask Him to search us so that we might confess any sin or agreement we’ve unknowingly made with our Enemy

Lord hear my prayer

Dear God, holy and victorious Trinity, You alone are worthy of all my worship, my heart’s devotion, all my praise and all my trust and all the glory of my life. I worship You, bow to You, and give myself over to You in my heart’s search for life. You alone are Life, and You have become my life. I renounce all other gods, all idols, and I give you the place in my heart and in my life that You truly deserve. I confess here and now that it is all about You, God, and not about me. You are the Hero of this story, and I belong to You. Forgive me, God, for my every sin. Search me and know me and reveal to me any aspect of my life that is not pleasing to You, expose any agreements I have made, and grant me the grace of a deep and true repentance.

The Father

God is Trinity, and we must learn to relate to Him as such. We begin with our Father, who has done so much for us in Jesus Christ.

Father Hear My Testimony

Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me and choosing me before you made the world. You are my true Father-my Creator, my Redeemer; my Sustainer; and the true end of all things, including my life. I love You; I trust you: I worship You. Thank You for proving your love for me by sending your only Son, Jesus, to be my substitute and representative. I receive Him and all His life and all His work, which You ordained for me. Thank You for including me in Christ, for forgiving me my sins, for granting me His righteousness, for making me complete in Him. Thank you for making me alive with Christ, raising me with Him, seating me with Him at Your right hand, granting me His authority, and anointing me with Your Holy Spirit. I receive it all with thanks and give it total claim to my life.

The Son

Now we turn to the Son and to His 3-great works on our behalf.

Starting with The Cross. The constant barrage of the Enemy’s lies wears us down over time, and we forget what is true. By entering into the work of Christ daily, we appropriate in a fresh way all he has already done for us. After all, Christ told us to take up our cross daily, for we must “put to death the misdeeds” of the flesh (Luke 9:23; Rom 8:13)

#1 Jesus Hear My Testimony of the Cross

Jesus, thank You for coming for me, for ransoming me with Your own life. I honor You as my Lord; I love You, worship You, trust You. I sincerely receive You as my redemption, and I receive all the work and triumph of Your Crucifixion, whereby I am cleansed from all my sin through Your shed blood, my old nature is removed, my heart is circumcised unto God, and every claim being made against me is disarmed. I take my place in Your cross and death, whereby I have died with You to sin and to my flesh, to the world, and to the evil one. I am crucified with Christ, and I have crucified my flesh with all its passions and desires. I take up my cross and crucify my flesh with all it’s pride, unbelief, and idolatry. I put off the old man. I now bring the cross of Christ between me and all people, all spirits, all things. Holy Spirit, apply to me (my wife and/or children) the fullness of the work of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ for me. I receive it with thanks and give it total claim to my life.

#2 Jesus Hear My Testimony of the Resurrection

Jesus, I also sincerely receive You as my new life, my holiness and sanctification, and I receive all the work and triumph of your resurrection, whereby I have been raised with You to a new life, to walk in newness of life, dead to sin and alive to God. I am crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. I now take my place in your resurrection, whereby I have been made alive with you, I reign in life thorough You. I now put on the new man in all holiness and humility, in all righteousness and purity and truth. Christ is now my life, the one who strengthens me. Holy Spirit, apply to me (my wife and/or my children) the fullness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ for me. I receive it with thanks and give it total claim to my life.

#3 Jesus Hear My Testimony of the Ascension

Jesus, I also sincerely receive You as my authority and rule, my everlasting victory over Satan and his kingdom, and I receive all the work and triumph of Your ascension, whereby Satan has been judged and cast down, his rulers and authorities disarmed, all authority in heaven and on earth given to you, Jesus, and I have been given fullness in You, the Head over all. I take my place in Your ascension, whereby I have been raised with You to the right hand of the Father and established with You in all authority. I bring your authority and your kingdom rule over my life, my family, my household, and my domain.

    And now I bring the fullness of your work-your cross, resurrection, and ascension-against Satan, against his kingdom, and against all his emissaries and all their work warring against me and my domain. Great is he who is in me than he who is in the world. Christ has given me authority to overcome all the power of the evil one, and I claim that authority now over and against every enemy, and I banish them in the name of Jesus Christ. Holy Spirit, apply to me (my wife and/or my children) the fullness of the work of the ascension of Jesus Christ for me. I receive it with thanks and give it total claim to my life.

The Holy Spirit

Now we turn to the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. For as the Bible says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:17). We want all of the freedom that the Spirit of God gives to us, and we want all of His work in our lives.

So we honor Him as Lord, and choose to walk in-step with him

Holy Spirit Hear My prayer

Holy Spirit, I sincerely receive You as my Counselor, my Comforter, my Strength, and my Guide. Thank You for sealing me in Christ. I honor You as my Lord, and I ask You to lead me into all truth, to anoint me for all of my life and walk and calling, and to lead me deeper into Jesus today. I fully open my life to You in every dimension and aspect-my body, my soul, and my spirit-choosing to be filled with You, to walk in step with You in all things. Apply to me, blessed Holy Spirit, all of the work and all of the gifts in Pentecost. Fill me afresh, blessed Holy Spirit. I receive You with thanks and give You total claim to my life (and wife and/or children)

 Final Preparation for the Day

Having given the Triune God His rightful place in our lives, and having received all that God has done for us, we turn now to some final preparations for the day:

Father Hear My Prayer

   Heavenly Father, thank you for granting to me every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. I receive those blessings in to my life today, and I ask the Holy Spirit to bring all those blessings into my life this day. Thank you for the blood of Jesus. Wash me once more with His blood from every sin and stain and evil device. I put on Your armor-the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the readiness of the gospel of peace, the helmet of salvation. I take up the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and I wield these weapons against the eveil on in the power of God. I choose to pray at all times in the Spirit, to be strong in You, Lor, and in Your might.

   Father, thank you for Your angels. I summon them in the authority of Jesus Christ and release them to war for me and my household. May they guard me at all times this day. Thank you for those who pray for me; I confess I need their prayers, and I ask you to send forth your Spirit and rouse them, unite them, raising up the full canopy of prayer and intercession for me. I call forth the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ this day throughout my home, my family, my life, and my domain. I pray all of this in the name of Jesus Christ, with all glory and honor and thanks to him.

In Conclusion

Pause….  Breathe….  Rest for a moment….

Whatever you are thinking right now, whatever you are feeling, let me assure you-this is not beyond you; this is not too hard; this is not just “for others.” This is the normal Christian life, laid out for us in the Scriptures and by example of the saints down through the ages.

“Quick little prayers aren’t going to do it anymore”

The one simple test is this-try reading this every morning for a week or two, pray the prayer and watch for the results yourself.

Never stop praying.

                1 Thessalonians 5:17

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No Condemnation for Those…

…In Christ Jesus.  Amen? Amen!

One of the Enemy’s greatest weapons is to feed us performance based lies so that we take ourselves out of the game with self-condemnation and shame.

We are less likely to pray for our wives, serve at church, work a homeless food line, be gracious on the freeways, at the grocery store or office, or donate our time, treasures and talents to those in need when we ourselves are battling any form of shame, pity or self-loathing.

A reminder that it is a BBQ @ Bob’s House bye week this coming Thursday (11-16-17) at Bob’s house. Check your email for more information and RSVP.

And while your at it, take a few minutes to check out my latest post entitled Think About Such Things which dives into this very topic of Justification, Sanctification, Sin, Shame and Redemption.

Blessings in Christ, George

Think About Such Things

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

thoughts1

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

As an addict in recovery… or better termed.. as a Disciple being Sanctified, I believe our God-created brains have been hijacked through our dependencies on substances and people in such an unhealthy way that we almost can’t help but transfer those same unhealthy relational patterns onto our relationship with God.

What do I mean by that? I’m glad you asked.

Most people are very familiar with the 12-Step theology that trying harder or “white-knuckling” will never get you sober.

Pushing ourselves harder only works in physical challenges. Want to lift heavier weights, push harder in the gym. Want to finish a marathon; run harder and farther every day, want extra money; work more overtime, want to graduate college; study harder and produce better homework. That’s fine in our external world.

But if you want inner peace, deeper relational connections to God, self and others, if you want to discover your calling and strengths and live a fully connected life that integrates every part of your being, both good and bad… if you want to live empowered and fully alive then be aware that the battle is in your mind and trying harder fix our own minds only makes things worse.

In the nearly 7 years that I have been sober from drugs and alcohol (by God’s grace alone) a larger battle has ensued. My workaholic, perfectionism, striving to perform yet never “feeling” like I measure up, depression and shame are driven not by a lack of quality or quantity of good deeds or external efforts on my part. They instead are driven by the lies fed to me at an early age that I came to believe were true about me.

I have become my own worst enemy 

mind_battle

3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

This is not a flesh/body or strive/struggle thing; this is a surrender to conformity to the thoughts and righteousness of Christ.

To live under the subconsious oppression of trying to measure up and having that relentless inner voice prophesying defeat (“don’t blow it”) or declaring defeat (“you blew it again”) is to live under the Enemy’s Law of Condemnation.

Any strongholds that continue to plague us as we press into our shared journey of redemption as disciples of Jesus Christ is not anything that surprises or offends God. Yes He hates sin, but He loves us! It isn’t 3 strikes your out or even 300 strikes your out.

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. John 21:17

Peter became self-condemned by his own denial of Christ and sentenced himself into isolation and removed himself from the leadership role Jesus proclaimed to Peter.

How much does our own shame and self-loathing thoughts (again often operating outside of our own conscious awareness) become the very things that drive us to sin for medication, escape or the even more insidious self-punishment.

31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; 32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”  Luke 22:31-32

Notice that Jesus already knows Satan will test Peter and He knows Peter will succumb to the test (…when you return)

And what weapon did Satan use to sift Peter? Shame and condemnation.

Peter believed himself to be horrible and beyond reproach, he self-condemned and took himself out. He believed the Enemy’s lie about him (you blew it Peter, how could you abandon Jesus, he needed you and you ran, who do you think you are, Jesus must have been wrong in thinking you are worthy of leading, you should slink away in shame)

But was any of that true?

Jesus didn’t condemn Peter for his denial.  In fact Jesus predicted it! And when first he met Peter after the resurrection Jesus did not even mention it. He cooked Peter breakfast and ministered to Peters shame.

Jesus new Peter loved Him.  He also knew Peter’s biggest problem at that moment was that Peter didn’t know that Peter loved Him. The sifting lies of our Enemy is always about condemnation and shame.

If we spend even a moment in the battle of “sin management” or “self-condemnation” we have lost sight of The Cross of Christ

Yes it is critical that we develop a healthy fine tuned self-awareness and responses to our own sin nature…

 42  …how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. Luke 6:42

… but awareness and response to our own sin is far different than condemnation. Isolating in self-pity is not the answer – acknowledging the atoning work of the cross and making amends is the key to keeping short ledgers with ourselves and others.

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

So you might asking, how do we engage in the battle for control of our minds? The answer is always much more simple than we make it.

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40

THE ANSWER IS LOVE

We have to fight the prideful temptation to think we should do any better than Peter, David, Paul, Jonah or virtually every “future-changing” Saint and Prophet who came before us. They all had flaws; sin and relational devastation in their story often caused by their own human weaknesses, fears, lusts and frailties… but they were also ordained, blessed by and used by God in a mighty way.

God is Forgiveness & Love, Satan is Condemnation & Shame. The battle is inward not external; our new life comes with the renewal of our mind.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 

I know these are some of the most well known and for some maybe even seemingly over-used verses in the bible however it is for good reason. We are knuckleheads and the very truth and life and freedom that is ours in and through the redemption of Christ Jesus is not a complex hidden puzzle that we are meant to struggle to find or understand.

We are not in a life long battle to “be better” or “do more”, we are to discover how to love better and love more.

Hopefully for some, as it is for me, it is becoming more clear that the performance or sin-management trap is purely selfish; it is an internal desire to improve my external behavior for my own self-image.

Love however is internally pure and externally sacrificial. We do for others what they are incapable of doing on their own.

Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive, 
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, 
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

Nowhere in this prayer does it say make me a better person, it simply cries out to become an instrument of God in the midst of suffering, hardship and sadness.

As we move towards becoming a soul fully alive in Christ through deeper levels of love for God, others and just as important, love ourselves through proper self-care and boundaries, we then become greater Light Bearers, the byproduct of which is our sanctification.

Father God I thank You for the relentless pressing on my own heart that I am still too often externally focused on the “right or wrongs” of my behaviors which then places the burden of justification back on me. You paid the price Lord so that I am fully free to love and worship and sing and praise You with my life. Help me to remember that each day is a blessing and each moment is a Divine Encounter to love You by loving myself and others in a manner that brings You glory. I long to reflect Your goodness, let me not miss any opportunity to live a love-filled life as defined by Saint Francis’ prayer Father. It is in the mighty and precious name of Jesus I pray…

Supplemental: To dive even deeper into what love looks like from a biblical perspective check out my previous study on 1 Corinthians 13. 

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Spiritual Warfare

Isaiah 51:1-2

Wake up, wake up, O Zion!
Clothe yourself with strength.
Put on your beautiful clothes, O holy city of Jerusalem,
for unclean and godless people will enter your gates no longer.
2 Rise from the dust, O Jerusalem.
Sit in a place of honor.
Remove the chains of slavery from your neck,
O captive daughter of Zion.

Awake Zion

After a few weeks away from the book and instead sharing testimony and wrestling with the concepts of Spiritual Warfare that has been presenting itself in Waking The Dead so far, we find ourselves this week continuing to (sometimes unwillingly) recognize and claim our role on the front lines of warfare as we now press into chapter 9.

In Big Idea #1 we are again presented with the idea that we have an Enemy built on the destruction of not our lives in general but specifically our hearts.

And as we press into Big Idea #2 we find concepts like:  “Your heart is good, your heart matters to God”.  These are the two hardest things to hang on to. I’m serious-try it. Try to hold this up for even a day. My heart is good, my heart matters to God. You will be amazed at how much accusation you live under”. [excerpt from Wild at Heart Workbook]

Don’t miss out this week as we continue to uncover the hidden reality beyond worldly struggles and travel into the realm of spiritual truth, warfare and FREEDOM!

Get this weeks worksheet here

And don’t miss out on more powerful resources just posted online such as:

As Bob shared in group last week:

“Satan’s first goal is to make us believe he isn’t real. If that fails and we step into the war with prayer and a desire to be the men (and women) God called us to be then we bring about his full wrath at which point he whispers “I will leave you alone if you simply slink back into silence and apathy and pretend I don’t exist again.”

Father God, we will not be silenced. We have the advantage in knowing the Enemy has already lost… but he doesn’t know that and keeps coming at us with everything at his disposal. We pray Lord not for the strength to battle him under our own power but instead the courage to continue to step in and run to You in the battle and to find the peace and wellness in our soul in knowing without wavering that the victory will be ours so the glory can be Yours. We pray this in the mighty name, power and authority of Jesus Christ. 

Looking forward to this Thursday brothers, may you all be blessed until then.

George

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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… 

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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. 

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