March 26, 2017
- Sun Mar 26, 2017
Under the Influence
“So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” Galatians 5:16
When a man is under the influence of alcohol (or any drug, for that matter), he surrenders control to the influence of the substance. This is not news to anyone reading these words. Our culture is filled with example after example. Everything changes when a family member regularly drinks to excess. Speech is slurred. Words either don’t make sense or are misused against people. Anger is unleashed. Depression is magnified. It’s as if there’s a ticking time bomb in the house, waiting to explode.
Ironically, the Bible seizes our familiarity with alcohol and its influence over people to make this very same point. This time it is addressed to God’s man concerning his relationship to the Holy Spirit: Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you. Then you will sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music to the Lord in your hearts. And you will always give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:17-20)
We feed the Holy Spirit’s abilities to win these battles in our lives by surrendering to His control, the same way we surrender our minds to the influence of alcohol. God gave us a guide because He knew we would need one. This was not a suggestion of Jesus. He commanded us to be filled with His Spirit because we would be impotent without his guidance in our lives. Once we confess (agree with God) about our sin, He asks us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit.
Father, you know the power of sin; fill me now with your Holy Spirit.
March 25, 2017
- Sat Mar 25, 2017
Make Confession a Spiritual Discipline
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. I John 9:1
One time when I was in Sacramento, a guy confronted me about the issue of confession by asking point-blank, “So, Kenny what’s in it for me if I take the risk and confess?" I replied, “Do you want more of God’s power in your life?" He responded “Yes.” "Do you want to deal Satan a right-hand straight to the jaw?” “Absolutely,” he smiled. Do you want people to trust you and be close to you?” “Sure.” “Do you want God to use you more?” “With all my heart.” “Good, then no secrets.”
Someone once said, “The greatest weakness is to be conscious of none.” I wish I knew the guy’s name so I could give him credit for helping men see why God has given us confession as a tool for spiritual growth. The Scriptures encourage honest confession because it produces awesome results in the life of God’s man.
When God said to the apostle Paul, “My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9), He was saying that when God’s man is at his most vulnerable place, that’s when God’s power flows most freely toward him. Confession puts us in that place.
Jesus said, “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light” (John 3:20-21). After I read that, I viewed confession as an offensive weapon that diminishes Satan’s power to influence me. If Satan is the father of lies, confession takes away the footholds that secrets create for him.
Father, thank you for allowing me to confess with no condemnation.
March 24, 2017
- Fri Mar 24, 2017
The Lord is my shepherd; I lack nothing. Psalm 23:1
When it comes to emotions we men run for the hills --- alone. We are not good at facing our feelings, let alone talking about them. Most of us have been trained to treat our emotions like smelly socks that need to be washed, dried, and put back in the drawer.
When emotions surface, the “Sweeper” moves in. He’s the subconscious character in every man who methodically and logically eliminates the threat that a rogue emotion might be present. His job is to not allow any situation to heat up too much and to sweep any stray emotions back under the surface, where we think they belong.
We hide and mask anger— we internalize pressure — we bury losses — we deny being wounded — we withdraw in the face of hard truth — we push people away — we change the scenery — we keep secrets — we ignore the facts — we deceive ourselves — we close off — we fear failure — we deflect mistakes — we blame others — we excuse ourselves from feeling the hurts of others — we hide struggles — we change the subject.
Their idyllic lives changed quickly after they ate the forbidden fruit. While relaxing in the Garden of Eden wearing his “No Fear” T-shirt, Adam was suddenly confronted with a very real fear — admitting, in the face of overwhelming evidence, that he had done something wrong. He officially became the first, but certainly not the last, person on this earth to “excuse and accuse.” A second behavior, stemming from the fear of exposing our feelings, is that we become distant. We distance ourselves from God and from people. In Adam’s case, he distanced himself from God because he felt guilt and shame. A third fear is that we become demanding. Wow! Emotions that all stemmed from fear.
Father, you are the author of security. I am only secure in you.
March 23, 2017
- Thu Mar 23, 2017
In the Company of Men
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrew 10:25
When I ask guys if they feel connected, and they reply that they are in a couples Bible study with their wives, I ask whether they have ever talked about their struggles with lust in that setting. I haven’t heard a positive response yet. In the company of women, we simply don’t discuss the things we need to deal with as men, nor are our wives able to identify with most of the struggles we wrestle with.
I’ve found that men do not become men in the company of women. Please understand, I’m not dissing the ladies when I make this statement. It’s simply the way God created us. Men become men in the company of men. Ask any warrior in any culture. (In fact, sociologists say this is why many young men gravitate toward gangs. They are looking to become men in the company of men, even though their approach is all wrong.)
We’ve learned that a men’s small group is a great place for what we call the four Cs: confession, consistency, caring, and completion. Guys who meet frequently are about the spiritual welfare of their brothers and can honestly talk about the struggles and challenges they face. In a men’s small group, secrets lose their power and God’s Word is brought to bear on the issue at hand. Besides, it feels good to have someone watching your back. That’s how a God’s man feels connected.
Close connection between God’s men is fueling the next wave of spiritual revolution. We are discovering the life-changing difference such relationships can make, and we are becoming close allies in the battle to finish strong.
Father, thank you for making me a man and the mantle that it possess.
March 22, 2017
- Wed Mar 22, 2017
Who’s got Your Back!
Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. Proverbs 18:1
Here’s what is working against us, guys. We are traveling through life unconnected and unexamined, but we’re careful to maintain an image suggesting that we’re okay when we really aren’t. The guy we present in public looks all right, while deep inside we harbor great turmoil and conflict.
But we don’t live in a vacuum; those emotions have to go somewhere. Some of us who feel unconnected choose avenues of relief and comfort outside of God’s plan, which only brings harm to our relationships with Him and with others. Our emotional conflicts are compounded by bitterly contested spiritual conflicts as the world, the flesh, and Satan exploit our isolation.
At every men’s conference, I encounter God’s men who confess to dabbing in Internet porn, elicit affairs, and way too many substances. Others immerse themselves in their work, a sports team, or some hobby to help them deal with life’s pain. Unfortunately, these diversions are exactly that — diversions. I have found that men who are not progressing personally, spiritually, or relationally have reached this sad state because they do not risk connecting on an honest level with other men. But we need to! Men relating to other men is right where Gods wants us to be. It’s where we can get help when we need it most, watch each other’s backs, pray for and encourage one another, and care enough to confront so that we help each other become the men God created us to be.
Remember, “pride goes before the fall.” Start an earnest search for a man or group that has got your Spiritual back and keeps you from islolation.
Father, you have urged me to not go this life alone. Even your Son was accountable.