Quotes of Jesus

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly!"--Jesus

A Special Message from Andy

If you are new to this blog, I invite you to begin reading the We Are At War series with its first installment The Reality posted in January 1, 2012. All other installments are posted in sequential order.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Desire: Setting Forth

Before I get too far into this post, I must explain what is going on. I've been reading John Eldredge's book Desire. I've read it before, but this time I chose to utilize the study guide companion to the book, giving me a place to jot down thoughts from my reading. What you'll be reading over the next several weeks will be my personal journal through what is perhaps one of the most important topics we could ever address.

Mile 1, Segment 1: Setting Forth

The heart is truly an amazing thing. It is a mysterious thing, but it is nonetheless amazing. Now, I'm not talking about the involuntary muscles pumping inside our chests that we learned about in grammar school. The heart I'm referring to is the core of our being, the center and the secret to our existence. It's the heart we least like to talk about, yet it is the most significant thing about us. If we want to know the reason for our existence, this is where our journey must begin.

Within the heart, there is held a secret. Eldredge names that secret to be nothing other than desire. It is the drive to find life as it was meant to be. There are times we are keenly aware of desire; and other times, scarcely so. Yet, it is always there. We all want life, however, we are at a loss when it comes to finding it, or making it last. Life always seems to evade us, but it is desire that keeps up the hunt.

This may sound strange, but hang with me for a moment to demonstrate what we're talking about. A friend that I work with is your all around outdoors man. Some of his favorite activities include hunting, fishing, and camping. At a moment's notice, he's ready to go. That is the life I long for. Not his life but the life that is ready and able to abandon the shirt and tie and go enjoy an adventure. That looks really good to me now.

What about you? Is there something about someone else's life that looks good to you right now, you'd prefer it above your own?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Problem with Tips and Techniques

These days I have to prepare myself when recommending a book for someone. Just the other day I was approached by a man and his wife. Things were no longer as they were meant to be in their marriage, like on the day of their wedding. Just as I began to mention a book for them to read, the lady stopped me.
"We've tried that!"
Counseling? "That, too!" Praying together? You guessed it. They have been victims of tips and techniques Christianity.

We are bombarded with a myriad of tips and techniques. Try any bookstore and go to the self-help section. There you will find hundreds of titles giving ten, twelve, fifteen steps to a better life, marriage, child, whatever. Most pulpits today are delivering similar messages to their congregants.

We've limited the gospel to a type of spiritual humanistic psychology written in Christianese. When Christ came, he did not bring ten steps to being a better Jew. There were no five point sermons on how to relate better with other people. The people already had the Ten Commandments, but they were not meant to "save" them. Instead, the commandments showed them they needed a savior.

If tips and techniques were all we ever needed, then there would have been no need for Christ to go to the cross. We could save ourselves. The gospel would have become one among the "Do It Yourself" guides. It's not our work, but the work of Christ that accomplishes God's purposes in us. It is the life Jesus has to offer.
But what life is that exactly, if not tips and techniques?
It is the freedom to truly live from our hearts. It is freedom to accomplish great things, take a stand, and embrace a larger world. It is freedom to love your wife in a way that unveils her beauty and to father your children to become all they are capable of becoming. Freedom to find your place, your calling in God's kingdom, which was inscribed on your heart since before the day you were born.

This life only comes we when allow Jesus to free our hearts of all that has wounded, all that holds us captive and imprisoned. To make right what has been wrong. (Isaiah 61, 1-3) To awaken us to the purest and truest desires He has written on our hearts.

If Jesus had a three point sermon, it was Luke 4:23. "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me"(NKJV).
Possessing the kind of freedom mentioned above will require much from us, too much on our own. It will require a heart that places its own selfishness aside. It will require a will to lay down our lives for a larger story. It will require an obedient spirit to surrender to the voice of God. These are not tips and techniques, but life-saving gifts from Jesus made possible by his glorious cross.
By the way, the book I recommended to that couple? Its Love And War by John & Stacy Eldredge. No tips and techniques. None. Check it out for yourselves.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Agreement with Resentment

I had an encounter with God the other day. I got out of bed just a little earlier than usual for work, and decided to make use of the time I had before running out to take the kids to school. There were a number of things I could of done, but this morning instead of catching up on email, Facebook, or anything else web related, I decided to slow things down a bit. I picked up my Bible and Walking With God, by John Eldredge, and went to my back porch for some spiritual reading--I was not prepared for what came next.

The reading was on dreams, which had nothing really to do with me, but what did hit home were some agreements he talked about. Agreements I realized I had made that were literally eating me alive. One particular agreement came through the relationship of a friend. I had been carrying with me some anger and resentment towards this guy over a recent disappointment in my life. Whether or not he was the one to blame was irrelevant. What the Holy Spirit pointed out to me was the wound I had received drove me to focus all of my anger on one person. He became my target. The enemy was in my ear counting back through situations and circumstances and said, "He's the one to blame." "Look! Look! See what he did?" "It's all his fault!" I gave in and made the agreement. "You're right," I thought. How could I have missed that?"

You see, this is how our enemy works, and it is usually in subtle ways. He doesn't want to give himself away. The more aware you are of him and his work, the more subtle Satan has to work to sneak up on you. By the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, I renounced the agreement and repented of the vow I had made. What was my vow? "I'm gonna keep this guy at distance. I'm not going to get close to him. I'm going to be critical of his work even though I'll keep my criticisms to myself. Just choke the life out of this relationship." Even as I'm writing this, I'm getting nauseated.

I thought I'd be able to handle this disappointment. Manage it somehow until it finally goes away. This never works. All it does is just eat away at you until you can't stand it anymore. In the world of the Trinity, that's how it works. Otherwise, we'd never get to the point where we need to turn to Him so He can save us from ourselves.

I surrendered. I confessed that I can't just manage this stuff on my own and I asked Jesus to genuinely heal me. Then, I brought the fullness of His work between me and the warfare surrounding the situation, namely resentment. Immediately the weight was lifted, my attitude had changed, and I began to work towards reconciliation with my friend. I emailed him as a part of my healing journey from this disappointment to apologize for my thoughts and attitude.

You might ask why that was necessary since he knew nothing of my thoughts. It isn't always necessary, but I knew what I had to do for reconciliation on my part. The result was renewed trust, a new sense of shared mission, and new life to a relationship that was dying by my own hands.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

We Are So Far From Home

Just shortly after God created Adam, the scriptures tell us about Eden. It was the garden He planted for his firstborn son of all humanity. It would be his home, a place of shelter, rest, and protection.
As Eldredge points out in his book Wild At Heart, he is placed, not created, in the garden. This is why men long for adventure and to be out in the wild. It is where we come alive and find a lot of the things we long for.
However, the wild is no place to lay your head. It's not the place to drop your guard. God saw this and found it necessary to create for him a home. Eden was made for man. It was the place for him to find refuge and sanctuary.

A friend of mine recently shared with me something he discovered—the garden of Eden was God's original design for a temple or place of worship. It was the one place in the world where God chose to commune with His son. There, God and Adam enjoyed complete openness and freedom as it was meant to be shared between Father and son. In the garden the man would find rest, comfort, food, and fellowship.
Now, imagine the most beautiful natural places on earth. You're close to what Eden was meant to be. We long for Edenistic experiences. Think about where you would choose to go on vacations. It's these places where we find rest from our work, comfort from our stress, and the people we spend it with would be the one(s) who matter most to us.

Adam's story only begins with Eden. Eve is created as Adam's
ezer kenegdo (more about what that means later), and the enemy of God is lurking in their midst. Adam is tempted and he fell from grace. The gift of Eden is lost. The openness Adam once enjoyed has become altogether different. He is naked and doesn't like it.
Adam resorts to hiding in an attempt to avoid exposure. Everything feels different from what it once was. Fellowship with the heavenly Father is broken. The vulnerability feels more like a weakness than a strength, and trust is replaced with suspicion.
Eldredge points out that something in Adam's heart shifts. It's why there is this awkwardness that seems to exist between us and God. We dodge, run, and hide from Him because His gaze pierces us and we can't stand the feeling.
Adam's expulsion from the garden is a picture of what has already happened between him and God. The wilderness becomes his home, far away from all the provisions of the garden, including the tree of life. Eden has been surrendered and the loss has been costly.

We've been trying to get back ever since. We live in the wild now. It seems the more we try to get back to the home that was intended for us, the further away it becomes.
Being so far from home, we've tried to recreate Eden. We've pitched our tent here and turned it into a castle. The wild is so dangerous and the more we learn from it, the more we try to guard ourselves from it.
We've learned a whole lot, too. In the wilderness, there is pain, grief, loneliness, rejection, despair, along with a whole host of really bad dilemmas. It's why we abuse drugs and other substances, drink too much alcohol, look at pornography, and commit adulterous affairs. It's why some of us become religious, looking for the ritual without offering our hearts fully to Jesus. We become lethargic watching too much television and playing too many video games. We get greedy, self-righteous, and work way too much. We become perfectionists, power-hungry, or procrastinators.
These are just some of the ways we try to recreate Eden without facing the truth that we have lost it. These "edens" we've built in a world taken over by sin and rebellion are nothing more than elaborate fig leaves to hide under. They are pitiful, messy, and cheap counterfeits leaving within our hearts something to be desired.
We were made for more.

We are a long way from Eden, but here is the good news. There
is more. The work of Jesus accomplished through His death, resurrection, and ascension was to help us find our way back to the tree of life. Jesus said it, "If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me, you will save it." (Luke 9:24 CEV)
The saved life is our life offered up to Jesus for His purposes. The destroyed life is the life that refuses vulnerability, refuses to be exposed under the careful gaze of the Lamb who was slain. The life that refuses to surrender his "eden" for the eternal home that awaits those the Father draws unto himself (John 6:44).

"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood."--Revelation 22:14 & 15 (CEV).

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Take on Tiger

I watched with great interest along with the rest of the world when Tiger Woods made his official public apology for his marital infidelity. He admitted his sexual addictions as well as acknowledged his need for continued therapy. Up till now I've been relatively silent on the issue. I do believe there are some things that we as men can learn from Tiger's experience.

I know as I watched the conference, I could not help but identify with Tiger's dilemma. If every man in the world were honest, they would probably say the same thing. The reason being is that every man poses in one or more forms. Just as Adam hid from the Lord in the garden of Eden following his fall from grace, so we "hide" in ways that are not beneficial but destructive. For Tiger, it was an insatiable hunger for power. His latest achievement was never enough. He built for himself an empire. He became the only billion dollar athlete. His quest for power spilled over into his sex life as he sought to "have" woman after woman, including a porn star. You heard his confession, "the rules that govern everyone else, didn't apply to me." To the world, he was seen as powerful and larger than life. In his heart, though, he probably felt small and powerless.

I don't presume to know Tiger's story, but I do know that his actions are revealing his heart cries for validation. It's the cry of every man. "Do I have what it takes?" Tiger went everywhere he could think of to find it, including other women. Problem is, none of his accomplishments satisfied his deep hunger. As a result, his world came crashing down around him, jeopardizing his wife, his family, and those closest to him. Forget all his professional endorsements, those loses can be recovered. The real damage caused to loved ones will leave scars that will last forever.

Truth be told, all men want to be known as powerful. We all want to know that we have what it takes to be a man. The desire is God inspired. The problem arises when we seek sources other than God to find that desire fulfilled. Therefore, we become less than what we are made to be.
Thankfully, our God is not one to leave us to our posing. He actually calls Adam out. "Where are you?" He exposes us. Which can be the greatest thing that ever happens to us. It's where true transformation begins. It's how we begin on a pace of internal healing, to find our truest selves.

I'm happy to know that Tiger is committed to his therapy. Some have criticized him that he would never have come out had he not been caught. I agree with that possibility, because it often takes getting caught (exposed) for restoration to take place. It's my prayer that Tiger will return to the only heavenly Father he has, forsake a religion that has already proven insufficient, and look back on these days as the greatest ones of his life. Days that, though painful, were most transforming. It is also my prayer that you and I will take an honest look at our own lives when others stories, like Tiger's, are revealed, and allow God to show us where we may be posing.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fighting for the Hearts of Our Children

It was nothing short of a breakthrough. I have an eleven year old daughter. She is a beautiful girl full of laughter with gorgeous bright blue eyes. On one particular evening, we're sitting around the kitchen table having dinner, a traditional evening meal. We were enjoying our time together when all of a sudden things started to go south. My radar was up as the meltdown began to take place.

When things start to go down one must be aware that there is always more going on than meets the eye. What could have been easily misinterpreted as a child acting out, turned out to be stunning revelation. All fathers have wounded their children. There is no way around it. The question becomes how have we wounded them. With my daughter, I was preparing myself for exactly what I did not want to hear.

I want to be very careful and not reveal too much of my daughter's dilemma. It's her story and not mine to tell. That's not what is important. What is is how a man must deal with such a situation. It is a battle over the hearts of our kids and it must be fought with much cunning and discernment. Whether they are 7 or 75, we must learn how we can fight for our children. Most men would probably turn tail and run by dismissing it as unimportant. However, if we are to fight for them we must be willing to go there.

In the case of my daughter, I learned about how poorly I can relate to her at times. By admitting that openly to her and undoing the message she had been receiving from the enemy, the tears began to flow. Tears are necessary. They let us know that the pain we are experiencing is real. They were beautiful tears. Tears of an open heart, an invitation for restorative healing. They were tears of freedom.

A man must choose his words wisely. They can either aid in the process of healing or tear down very destructively. "I'm sorry, will you forgive me," were the only words that would suffice in that moment with my daughter--and the only words necessary. I go to her, lift her up, let her cry in my shoulder, and tell her everything she is to me. "I do notice you, and I love what I see." Here the healing begins.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Prepare For Battle

I keep a sword in my bedroom next to where I sleep so when I wake up, it's the first thing I see. I want to see it. I need to see it. Because the life I want for me, my wife, and my kids is difficult. It's difficult because it is so opposed. This does not mean that I walk through life paranoid, constantly looking over my shoulder. I enjoy life. I enjoy my wife. I enjoy my kids. They are worth fighting for.

The sword is primarily a symbol for me; meant to remind me, "heads up". It is also a reminder of God's strength in me. Now, if you think I'm coming across as a little melodramatic, then the Apostle Paul was over the top. What did he tell us to put on in Ephesians chapter 6? The whole armor of God. The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the readiness of the gospel of peace, the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, and the sword of the spirit. In other words, don't go out unarmed and unprepared for a fight. He reminds us that we are at war with our enemy, and we had better be prepared in order to take him out. "...[Be] strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms," ~Paul, Ephesians 6:10-12.

Is this how you live? Most people, Christians included, do not live as if there is a war raging all around them.

Be careful not to confuse the work of our enemy to be limited to your misery. How often do we hear, "Oh, the devil is really fightin' me today, just makin' my life miserable?" While I don't dare say that the suffering of people is not partly the result of our adversary's work, it's not the only thing he is after. He wants to take you out! Jesus makes that clear when he tells us, "the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. He is after something much more valuable than our comfort. Primarily, he is after our heart, and he'll use whatever means to steal from it, kill it's passion, and destroy it's hope.

Every day we wake, we are facing a battlefield full of danger and opportunity. We must be armed and prepared--with sword in hand--to defend what is most precious: the hearts of our wives, our children, our friends, and yes, even our own hearts.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Vision for the Ministry

In the movie Kingdom of Heaven, the character Balian (played by Orlando Bloom) is given his father's fuedal estate, Ibelin, by the King of Jerusalem. It is a desolate piece of desert. It is the result of a negligent knight. Negligent to his estate and to his son's life. Awakened to his new identity as a son of nobility, Balian comes to the estate to bring life. The land is in desperate need of water. Knowing this, he pours all of his effort into finding water and then building a system to irrigate the land. The result is prosperity and growth.

Balian knew he needed water, but finding water alone is not enough. Structures must be put in place to distribute it. This is why we need a good vision. Proverbs 29:18 tells us "where there is no vision, the people perish." Vision is seeing beforehand the structures that will be necessary to distribute the life that has been given to us through Jesus.

In the last Post we visited the mission of Rally Point. Our goal is to "restore men to their proper place in the world as image bearers of God." In order to do this, we need to wake men up to a new reality, to the way God wants them to see Himself, the world, and themselves. We are at war. We need to offer men a fellowship. God uses other men to help make a difference in our lives. Proverbs 27:17 says "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Finally, our task includes teaching men how to fight. Show them there are some things in this life worth fighting for, and that we have an enemy who opposes us and the glorious image we've been created to bear. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12).

I want to take a moment and lay out what we believe is the best means to accomplish our mission. How are we going to wake men up, offer him that fellowship, and then teach him how to fight? The first means is by way of web presence. The internet is a great way to network and to get the message out. If you are reading this, then you are obviously aware of the blog. However, you may not know about our presence on Facebook. You can become one of our fans on facebook and receive the opportunity to interact with other fans following this message. The page is called Rally Point Ministries. I regularly post this blog on there as well as movie clips that stir me (in hopes they will stir you as well). It's a great place on the web to share and connect. Eventually, we would like to see our presence expand into its own web site as the Holy Spirit leads and provides.

The second means of accomplishing the mission of Rally Point is through small group ministry. Small groups will open up opportunities for men to grow deeper in their understanding of the message of the heart. Men will discover that their battles are shared and bonds of trust will develop. Brotherhoods will form and a mission will be shared. In essence, we'll have several strategically placed "platoons." Now, small groups have the tendency to enlarge, however, they must remain small in order to keep the doors open for men to voice their struggles and process their thoughts. Being mission minded, we will constantly be on the lookout for developing leaders to establish new "platoons."

Finally, the most exciting and effective expression of Rally Point will be the Boot Camp men's retreat. This allows guys to really unplug and make themselves available to receive whatever God wants to give (usually Himself) over a four day stint. It is an intense weekend where many tenets of the Wild At Heart message are taught (John Eldredge). Our sessions mix teaching along with illustrative movie clips from the films most men connect with and enjoy. The teaching, while important, is not the secret to the success of the retreat. Throughout the weekend (Thurs.-Sun.) we give the guys opportunity to quiet themselves and really listen for God's voice, something that must be cultivated. It is the pinnacle of the ministry, therefore, strongly opposed. Because we are looking for transformation that only the Holy Spirit can accomplish, prayer and intercession are absolutely necessary for the success of Boot Camp. When the Wild Goose shows up, men will be forever transformed!

Our task is huge. That's what makes it so worthwhile. Things are beginning to heat up as we gear into the next level of the ministry. We've been getting worked over, struggling with our enemy, but with God's help we are not about to let it take us out. We need your prayers. If you would like to sign up as one of our intercessors, email "Sign Me Up" to rallypnt@gmail.com. We've added a subscription gadget to this blog if you would like to have new posts sent directly to your homepage. Finances are always a concern as we "gear up" to make this happen. We are prayerfully seeking God on financial support for this ministry concerning needs such as equipment, DVDs, and curriculum. I invite you to join us in prayer by bringing the Kingdom of God over the Rally Point Ministry; that He would "supply all [our] needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19)

Again, I want to thank you for reading. As always, please leave a comment below, we'd love to hear from you and how these posts are impacting you. It keeps us encouraged and motivated. May God bless you as you earnestly seek him.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What is Rally Point? Part III

[If you haven't read parts I and II yet, I strongly encourage you to read those first.]

This part is just as important as the man, and the message. It is the mission. If you were to take a soldier, tell him we're at war, and ask him to do the best that he can without giving him a mission, you've set him up for failure. Most men do not have a clearly defined mission, so their passion for battle, adventure, and beauty get misplaced. Next thing you know, he gets taken out.

Here's the mission of Rally Point. The objective is simple. Restore men to their proper place in the world as image bearers of God. It was Jesus' mission and has now become ours. Luke records it in an important story from his gospel.

"God's Spirit is on me;
he's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to
the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, 'This is God's year to act!'" (Luke 4:18-19 The Message)

The words come from a pivotal passage in Isaiah 61. They were words that when he read them before the local synagogue they would be easily recognized. Then, he says to the people, guess what? This has just come true! All of Christ's work, His death, resurrection, and ascension, were meant to complete this mission. His miracles were pictures of what it would be like for the Kingdom of God, His kingdom to come upon others. The work was about restoration, not just to make life easier for us, but to renew and recreate mankind into what it was originally meant to be, turning it back to its original glory. You can bet, its still the work He's trying to accomplish today, and he has chosen to complete it through us, those that love and serve Him.

How, then, do we do this? Every Christian organization, church, or group has a mission. Our mission ought to be the same and many times it is, however, we have different means of going about it. Rally Point is about reaching men, and this is our strategy:

First, we want to wake a man up and pull him out of his matrix he has been connected to for so long. There was a time in that man's life (usually as a boy) he enjoyed a life of carefree, innocent fun. He was daring and would try things he'd never done before. He was a fighter, even if you tried to take away toy guns from him, he'd carve out little pistols from his graham crackers. That little girl that caught his attention, would help him find a strength and an ability he never knew he had. Then, his life took a devastating turn. Somewhere along the way the little boy was wounded and taken out. Fear set in. Confidence waned. Resignation became his only way to deal with his plight. We want to tell that man the desires he had as a boy are still there. We want to wake that up, stir him up a bit, and let him know that he can have that glory back, but it must be fought for.

Second, is to come alongside him and offer a place of fellowship where he can commune and grow with other men fighting the same battle as he. This life cannot be lived alone. We were not meant to be alone. Jesus himself called out twelve to be His disciples. They were not just students, they became brothers, companions along His journey. How far could he have gotten without them? I shudder to think about the answer to that question. The fact is, He chooses us to complete His mission. It sounds ludicrous for the God of creation to need us...but He does. If Christ needed others, how much more do we need others to come alongside us, encourage us, and help us grow.

Finally, teach him how to fight for his wife, his kids, and others. This is what Nehemiah said in chapter 4, verse 14:

"Put your minds on the Master, great and awesome, and then fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes."(The Message)

The man must be taught that strength is for others, especially those whom he loves. He does not find his strength just so he can kick sand in the little guy's face on the beach. He is to fight for others who cannot fight for themselves. Those fellowships will become places for him to exercise His strength. His home will be the primary battlefield of his life. His work will take on new meaning as he receives the life God has for him. What are we protecting others from? Christ tells us in John chapter 10 verse 6:

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (NIV)

Jesus knows what He has to offer, but he recognizes that there is one who comes to take life away. It is this evil one and his kingdom that we must make our stand against and the only way is by the life we have received through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thank you for taking the time to read our three part description of Rally Point. These are truly exciting times for all of us, and I hope you've been able to pick up on our excitement. I want to personally invite you to become a vital part of this ministry. Take time to become a follower of this blog and stay connected to the action. Soon we'll be announcing some exciting news, and you'll want to be around for that. We are in desperate need for intercessors. If you would, email us at rallypnt@gmail.com to become an intercessor. Just type "sign me up" and we will send you updates and prayer needs for the ministry.

Again, thank you for the time spent reading these blogs these past couple of weeks. Keep coming back for more, because there is so much more to share. You can look forward to my next post coming soon which is the vision for Rally Point. I'm really excited about this one. Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What Is Rally Point? Part II

The message of Rally Point is not a new one, but is a forgotten one. It has been buried for centuries by the Age of Enlightenment, along with the Victorian Era where men were taught to compromise their beliefs for the sake of civility and were convinced to put aside his wildness for the sake of Christ. As a result, a man's passion for life was lost. Under the Age of Enlightenment, empirical and scientific evidence became the basis for truth, replacing narrative as a means of understanding. The Laboratory became more important than the storyteller. The results were devastating as men became sweet, nice, and for the most part, bored.

The hope we have, however, is that Jesus came, and He came with a mission in mind. He said, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (Luke 19:10 NIV) Did you get that? He did not say "seek and save the lost," even though that's how we usually interpret it. Rather he said, "what was lost". The question then becomes, "what exactly was lost?" We're taught in scriptures that mankind was created in the image of God, both male and female. What does that mean? Well, we have the physical differences and we see how that plays into procreation. Then, there are the mental differences where guys and gals think differently. There are definitely the emotional differences. What about when it comes to the soul? Could there be differences between the genders when it comes to the soul and the heart? Why do we understand the male and female image of God to be limited only to the physical, mental, and emotional, but not the spiritual? For some sad reason, we're too quiet when it comes to this, dangerously quiet. That is why you see fewer and fewer men at church, and almost no young men.

I believe God meant something special when he created a man. (He also meant something else special when he created a woman, but we won't discuss that here quite yet.) In order for us to understand this in practical ways, we need to see what men desire from life. A good place for us to start is with the movies men love. Let's take, for instance, Gladiator, Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan, and Lord of the Rings to name a few. Why do men almost universally gravitate to these types of films? Why do women, while they may watch one of these movies, almost universally prefer to watch movies such as Chocolat, Sense and Sensibility, and Shall We Dance? The genders have their preferences because men bear God's image as a man, and women bear God's image as a woman. We're not just talking entertainment, but these movies really stir a longing within us; something wakes up. It's that ache, or longing we need to get in touch with.

Now back to the movies for men. What do these types of movies tend to have in common? The first is battle. We get excited when we see something blown up or when the bad guy gets killed. It's not enough to put him prison, we want him gone. The second similarity is adventure. Men love adventure! Give guys a free weekend and some spending money and what are they going to do? You guessed it, adventure; rock climbing, hunting, hiking, white water rafting or anything that involves risk. Finally, more times than not, there is a beauty involved in the movies we love. A beautiful young woman in need of a rescue where her hero will come, deliver her, and take her to some secret rendezvous. The reason we watch these movies is because we want these things. We want these things because God wants these things. God's a fighter. "The Lord is a warrior, The Lord is His name."(Exodus 15:3 NIV) He loves adventure. "He makes the clouds His chariots and rides on the wings of the wind."(Psalm 104:3 NIV) He loves a beauty. "I belong to my lover, and His desire is for me."(Song of Solomon 7:10 NIV) These are the desires of our hearts because they are the way a man bears the image of God...and these desires are key to understanding the soul of a man.

A Battle. An Adventure. A Beauty. This is our glory as men, and nothing in this world could be more opposed. Our enemy will stop at nothing to inhibit the restoration of God's image here on earth, because he fears it. That makes our mission that much more dangerous.

I welcome your comments on this post as well as others. Next time, you may look forward to hearing in greater detail the mission we've been called to.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What Is Rally Point?

I'm so glad you asked! In order to answer this question, there are some things you need to know about me, my experience with a transformational message as old as time itself, and the mission I've been called to.
Let's start with the man.
I was born and raised in the Middle Georgia Area, and brought up in a very conservative/traditional denomination of the Church. I became a convert to the Christian faith at a very young age. Church attendance was important to my family, so you could imagine that I was present every time the doors were open. You could say I had a very religious upbringing. I participated in everything that a good Christian was supposed to participate in, and did it all very well. I went to Trevecca University and pursued a degree in religion with an emphasis in Pastoral Ministries, a career path I know that I was called to. I served in two senior pastorates, both of which were let's say, "less than perfect." Then came to my home church in Middle Georgia to serve as an associate pastor for almost five years.
This is where life for me began to change.
After two difficult pastorates, I needed time to heal, restore, and recover. There was no better place than the home in which I knew and loved. It was an opportunity for me to continue serving while seeking and finding the much needed restoration that my soul needed. Little did I know that I needed so much more, and it was the more that God so desperately wanted to do in my life.
It began with a gift, a Christmas gift in fact, from my sister-in-law. It was a gift card to Barnes and Noble. Well, after a month or two I finally got to use my card. At the suggestion of my wife (believe me guys, sometimes its good to listen to your wife) I picked up the book Wild At Heart by John Eldredge. A revolution took place in my mind and then it trickled down into my heart and to the rest of my life as it penetrated every part of me. Never, and I do mean never, have I heard the gospel presented in such a way. How did I miss this? Then upon looking back on my life and the wounds given to me by family members, friends, churches, and superiors, I began to receive God's healing and I allowed Him to restore not just me, but my masculine heart. These wounds throughout my life carried with them a message, "You have nothing to offer, you're a failure, and it would just be better for you if you just played it safe the rest of your life." I believed it, and because I believed it, I checked out on my wife, family, and church. I became afraid to offer what these people in my life really needed, my heart. I gave them my mind and my hands, but not my heart. There is a difference.
Thankfully, my story doesn't end there. No, because this story is not about me. It's about Jesus. The man who made no apology for being a man. The man who sacrificed all for the good of those who would take up His charge. The man who fought for those who could not fight for themselves. The man who offered me a place in His fellowship because He saw that I did indeed have something to offer. The man who looked at me and refused to see a failure, but a victor. The man who taught me that living safely is not living at all. By His grace I've been following ever since.
This is my story. My next post will be the transformational message that impacted me so, and thus is the message of Rally Point. Please feel free to leave your comments below and sign up as a follower. May God bless!!