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