Authentic Devotion

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I’ve gone through my fair share (and more) of spiritual dry spells and the reoccurring question is “What am I doing?”, meaning I feel like my wheels are turning but I’m not going anywhere.  Satan loves to use a man’s need for a quick solution to fix the problem as a weapon against us.  We’ll wake up one day and say “Okay I’m going to read my Bible every morning.  I’m going to quit my job and go into ministry.”  While you should definitely be in the Word daily and perhaps go into ministry if you’re called, those aren’t solely the answers to the problem.  At one point in my life, I almost bolted from my industrial sales job to work for my church, but fortunately that door closed.  In retrospect, church ministry was not my calling and would have been an awry move.

It’s not that Satan’s coming at us with it like an Apache Helicopter and if we don’t act hastily, we’re done.  It’s more like he blew up a bridge that was in our direct path to the spiritual goal we’re pursuing.  Sometimes, we say “Ah screw it” because things got tough after facing resistance rather than pushing through.

Let me present a solution that serves as an antidote and cure to these spiritual funks:  Authentic Devotion.  I don’t intend to tell you that your morning quiet time with God is useless, but if if you’re not getting honest with yourself and with God during this time, then what’s the point?  That’s when you’re going to see change.  That’s when you’re going to say, “Man, I’m jacked up.  But I have Jesus.  Bring it, Satan.”

Check out this sermon jam from Ben Stuart on Authentic Devotion

 

 

 

Curry Gives Credit to the Real MVP

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All of us around OKC love us some Kevin Durant, but with the injury he had no shot at the MVP this year.  I was pumped to see my guy (no, I have no justifiable reason to call him that other than I was a fan of him in college), Steph Curry, come away with the award this year.

He has the attention of basketball fans everywhere and what does he do?  He writes a blog about how God gave him this stage and uses it as a platform to share his faith.  Curry wrote a short blog on his experiences of God working as he progressed in his basketball career.  You can (and should) read the full post here on CharismaNews.

“The Holy Spirit is moving through our locker room in a way I’ve never experienced before.”

Do you desire to the see the Holy Spirit move in your life?  Start using the platform you have right now rather than waiting for the one you want to have in the future.

TheRock Roundup: Trading Cards

Each Monday following TheRock (TrueNorth’s monthly event on the first Thursday of every month), we’ll post a summary of the message and highlights.  We’ll do our best with these posts, but they won’t be near as good as the real thing. So join us next time!

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Derek England delivered a message God gave him about the specific traits God gave each us long before we took our first breath.   This post is merely a summary of that message.

Surely you were into some type of trading cards as a kid (or as an adult?).   For me, it was baseball cards and few things made my day more than finding The Big Hurt after opening a pack.  Let’s categorize the cards into 3 groups:  (1) The low-value cards everyone has, (2) the “B” cards; somewhat unique but nothing to get excited about (you know, ones you would put in a sleeve rather than a case) and (3) The Big Hurt type of cards.  These are the cards that define the pack.

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Apply this principle to yourself, with the pack of cards being the group of traits that you consist of and each card being a specific trait.  Let’s focus on the The Big Hurt (or high-value) cards.  These are the cards God gave you that make you who you are.

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”  

Genesis 1:27

Check out what God said to Jeremiah:
 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations”  Jeremiah 1:5
Again, he gave you these cards before you were born:
 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb”  Psalm 139:13
Derek presented us with three questions:
1)  Who Are You?  (i.e. What makes you come alive?) – Identify your high-value cards.  What is it in life that you can’t get enough of?  My very close friend is a hockey guy.  He’s from Canada, played at Yale and then played some professional hockey after that.  He loves the game.  What does he do now?  He’s full time with Hockey Ministries sharing the love of Jesus in a rough culture.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking this has to relate to your full-time job.  It most certainly can, but perhaps God wants you to be the man he designed you to be in the job you’re in now.
2)  What Cards Have You Traded? – Without realizing it, we’ve traded those high-value cards for something worldy.  Did you give up Adventure for Security?  Integrity for Acceptance? How about Intimacy for Pleasure?  Ask God to search your heart and help you identify the cards that He created in you but you have traded for something safer or easier.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts”  Psalm 139:23
3)  How Do You Get Your Cards Back? – The key is not to drop cards you currently hold and immediately pick up a bunch of cards that seem like they’d be good.  For example, I have a lot of respect for people who have taken the risk and started their own business, but that’s not for everyone.  So just because you like the idea of entrepreneurship, that doesn’t mean you need to quit your job and start something up right away.  Don’t get me wrong, if you’re holding on to the Pleasure card (porn, sleeping around, etc.), you drop that card now.
Revisit your own story in your head.  Tell it to yourself.  Tell it to others.  You’ll see a pattern of certain things that made you feel alive.  These things are those high-value cards and it’s time to acknowledge you traded those at one point.  And it’s time to get them back.

You’re Tougher than Your Obstacles

You’re going to face challenges in life and God isn’t going to give you a path to avoid them.  He’s given you everything you need to attack them head on.  Props to Duracell for this commercial and also to Trey Dixon for pointing out this amazing illustration.

“This thing is tough.”

“So are you.”

Powerful

Jonathan: A Portrayal of Courage

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Last night, a couple hundred guys (by my estimate) gathered at a local church for the COURAGE Men’s Event.  Jonathan Holcomb, Associate Campus Pastor of LifeGroups and LifeMissions at the LifeChurch OKC Campus (fit that on a business card), shared a message about courage using Jonathan in 1 Samuel 14 as an example.  Here’s a brief summary from the mental notes I took:

Redefining Courage

When we think of a courageous person, we typically default to someone who served in the military or put their life on the line as a police office or firefighter.   No doubt those are courageous roles, but when we accept that alone as the definition of courageous, we falsely deny that we have ample opportunities to be courageous ourselves.  Of the various definitions you’ll find for “courage”, the general description is taking a step of action in which you face danger or overcome fear to do so.   I could spend the rest of this post on examples but here are a few life applications:

– Overcoming the fear of what people will think or say about you when you boldly proclaim and live out the Gospel

– Spontaneous giving to the point that will put you in financial uncertainty

– Quitting your job to start your own business

Jonathan (not Holcomb) Attacks the Philistines

For the sake of clarity, I’m going to refer to Jonathan Holcomb as “Holcomb” and Jonathan from the Bible as Jonathan.  Alright then…

The key verses Holcomb used to reference a portrayal of courage in the Bible is 1 Samuel 14:6-7.  It’s important to read the scripture leading up to these verses to understand the context of the story taking place, but in attacking the Philistines there were 3 keys Jonathan did (or didn’t) do:

1)  He didn’t pray – Wait…what?  That’s a good thing?  It’s comically ironic (and he acknowledged it) that Holcomb said this given his church just started a series of message on Prayer.  But he’s right.  Sometimes we default to “I need to pray about it” when God has already called you to something.  Jonathan knew he had the power of God in him and knew that he should be the aggressor and take on the Philistines.

2)  Jonathan didn’t know what was going to happen – Oh boy.  (One of man’s worst enemines…The Unknown!  Scripture says “perhaps” the Lord will act on their behalf.  He knew what he was called to do and did it, even though he didn’t know the outcome.  It would have been understandable had he been fearful  but he either overcame the fear or overcame Satan’s temptation to make him fearful.

3)  He didn’t attack alone – God didn’t design us to go at life alone.  He sent the disciples out in pairs.  Iron sharpens iron.  A critical core value of TrueNorth Ministries is the power of sharing our stories with transparency and authenticity.  Trey Dixon, TrueNorth Executive Director, spoke last night as well and did exactly that.  When we share our weaknesses and downfalls, other men build us up and it encourages men to recognize the power in their own story.  He encouraged us to take a courageous step, which is different for all of us.  Trey said this about Jesus calling fishermen to be his disciples:

“Jesus didn’t bless their talents.  He blessed their willingness.”

God has called you to be part of a community with men.  You don’t need to pray about whether or not to seek it out.  Don’t know where to start?  Check out the TrueNorth Men’s Groups.  That is your next step.  Now, for extra motivation (and entertainment)…

 

 

 

 

 

Under Construction

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To improve something, most times it’s necessary to break down what exists in order to build it into something new and better (we can all say the same about what God has done with each of us).  We can complain about construction and the traffic that comes with it, but when it’s done, we’re not griping about the new paved roads, extra lanes or whatever was done to make it better for drivers.

We’re making some changes to the TrueNorth site (which I’m sure you already noticed) that will enable us to do more and do it more efficiently.  The functionality changes are already underway:  listing our events and registered small groups.  Speaking of small groups, if you’re in a men’s group and want it registered on our site, contact our Executive Director, Trey Dixon, at trey@truenorthokc.com.  We’re continuing to work on these things and will also improve the aesthetics as we go.  Feel free to browse through them!

Hang with us during these changes and we promise to deliver more frequent content and resources for you!

 

Engage

Men,

At TheRock this past week, the question was posed: "What are you engaging in?"

More to the point, "What is engaging you?"

"We have a choice to engage in something bigger than us or smaller than us. Our core desire is to engage in something bigger. You have a choice to engage in something not only bigger than you, but better because of you. That's the invitation of the Gospel." —Derek England

Are you engaging in something bigger than you or something smaller than you? Have you "checked out"? As God calls you to live for something bigger than you, what is your next step?  

The Bible compares our life to morning fog: It's here one moment, but disappears in an instant (James 4:13-14). Francis Chan best illustrates how short life is in 4 minutes and 19 seconds.  

What is God calling you to engage in? You have an inkling, a feeling of what it may be, but, to be perfectly honest, it's scaring the crap out of you. Is there a book inside you? Write the first page. Feel like you need to step up and lead your family? Take your wife's or your kid's hand tonight and pray with them.  

Maybe you're reading this and you know your next step is simply cutting something out. Download internet accountability software. Confess that sin you've been hiding and focus on putting an end to it. Stop watching too much TV. If you need to cut something out, chances are you thought about it as you read this paragraph. 

Maybe you're trying to do all the above on your own (like most guys) and you're realizing it's just not working. Get into a community of men who desperately want to follow Jesus and engage like you do because you were not made to engage on your own. Drop Scott Soliz a line with "Next Step" in the subject line. He will help get you plugged in (soliz@truenorthokc.com).

Something not only bigger than you, but better because of you. That's the invitation. That's Jesus. Take the next step. Today.  
Walk. ENGAGE. Live.

 

Staying Connected to the Source

This April will be my second time attending Basecamp. You might be saying "…So?" So what is so special about that? I will be revisiting a camp which, just last fall, changed my life in many ways. Why would anyone care to know it is my second time to attend Basecamp? Most kind people might say, "Good for you! Bless your heart,” with a slight sense of pity. I am about to let you in on a little secret, so stay with me.

Each year, TrueNorth puts on these camps out in the wilderness. Okay, not totally in the wilderness, but close. As men, we step away, many for the first time, from our home, work, school, and families. We get together as authentic, real men of God who want more of Jesus.

We spend time on fun activities such as laser tag, paintball, human foosball, and more. All these great outdoor activities smack in the middle of God's country. Away from Twitter and Facebook, disconnected from TV and the world. Many who attend were asked or even dragged there by their friend, told, "You have to come!" None really get it until about day two.

The first time I attended, I had a good idea of what it was about, but that wasn't enough. You see, I could be told about it until I was blue in the face and I wouldn't quite get it. These camps are not just about being out in the wilderness away from it all, learning how to be better dads, husbands, or men. They are a time to disconnect from the world and connect with the source, our God.

So why fork out more money to go to the same camp? First, I know there are things I missed last time I was there. Second, and most importantly, I have to stay connected to the source. And yes, I spend time with God just about each and everyday. But staying connected to the source is so vital, I will do all I can to strengthen that connection to God, my creator, my friend.

So how about you? Are you doing everything you can to stay connected to the source? It's not too late . . . sign up now.

Brotherhood: Living In Times of War

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A common thread among men is the idea that we need to be self-sufficient. The self-made man is often praised or admired, but the truth is that there is great danger in being self-made. While I do agree that being able to stand on your own is admirable, it is also quite dangerous.

The idea of making it to and staying at the top of your field without the help or support of others is quite dangerous. That idea makes the assumption that this climb is either a one-time battle or that this person has superhuman powers. If you are one of the few who have made it to the top without depending on others, then congratulations. Now what happens when you encounter trouble? 

Trouble Is Coming
It is no secret that while living on earth we will experience trouble of all kinds. This becomes apparent early in life, so it is no surprise. We can see that in the book of John, Jesus tells us of this fact.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 NIV)
 
Learning How To Fight
We need others to help us to be successful in life. Even the most stubborn individual can admit that. As followers of Christ, we are facing another battle against an enemy who is powerful: the devil.

As Christ followers, we have forces which are at war within us. We are at war! We wake up each and every day at war. If you know anything about war, you will realize that you do not want to fight a war alone. You need a group of people willing to go to war with you. Those who will never leave you behind.

"Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken." (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT)

Knowing Your Enemies
Our enemy, the devil, wants nothing more than to take us out. The evil one and other forces of darkness are always plotting ways to derail us from the path God has for us. As we grow closer to Christ, the target on our back becomes even larger. We must learn how to wage war. We must realize we need others to wage war with us.

This war may be news to you, but now that you are aware, I must ask you a few questions. Who is going to war with you each day? Are you able to recognize when the enemy is attacking you? Do you know how to fight this battle? We need each other! God did not intend for us to fight alone. It's time to find your brothers.

Brotherhood: Life-Changing

At True North Ministries, we put on amazing camps for men, striving to change their lives forever. What if I told you that having a band of brothers walking in Christ with you could change your life even more? Would you be interested? Interested enough to follow this journey further?

We know that having a group of men to speak into our lives can be helpful. What about this makes it life-changing? Can't an app on my phone do the same thing? If an app on a phone could do this, we would not need others. Having a band of brothers will provide accountability, encouragement, and follow through; it can and will change your life if you let it. Stick with me while we discover why having brothers in Christ can change your life.

Accountability
When I think about the word accountability, I think about someone nagging me. Questions like, "Did you do what you were supposed to this week?" What I don't think about is accountability done out of love and support. Having another man to hold you accountable in a loving and kind way is something that is rarely experienced unintentionally. This is something which must be sought after.

Encouragement
Encouragement is one of those things which is often overlooked and underrated. Face it: we all have days in which we could use a pick-me-up. It would be great to have just one person to check in on us and lift our spirits from time to time. Now imagine having 6–8 men who could do that type of thing. Think that would help? You have no idea!

Follow Through
So, having someone to occasionally check in on you is great, right? But what if I told you about having a group to lovingly check with you consistently? A group to push you forward in the direction of your goals?

Those dreams you have which you thought were unattainable? Maybe they were just unattainable on your own. The marriage you had always thought was just for special people? The friendships you thought were not for you? You guessed it; maybe you were looking at it all wrong. It is time to start doing life together with others heading in the same direction. It is time to find your band of brothers!