Walk the Walk

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What is the difference between living in the Spirit and walking in the Spirit?  Galatians 5:25 suggests that Christians typically live in the spirit without walking in the spirit, rather than the other way around.

Most Christians can wake up every day and acknowledge they love God, they have accepted Jesus as their Savior and they want to do what is right in the eyes of God.  We so often walk out the door and are immediately distracted by the world (for some of us, that happens before walking out the door).

Over the weekend I want to challenge you to do three things:

1)  Look for ways to serve others (and do it) – God will give you the opportunities and if you want to walk in the spirit as Galatians says, you’ll follow through and do what pleases God.

2)  Praise Him for the good things – I tend to write off small daily wins as just part of the day.  Let’s start the habit of praising Him for every win.  He gets all the glory.

3)  Share your faith – You probably read 1 & 2 and thought, “no problem”.  Now let’s get you out of your comfort zone.  Don’t worry about a script.  When you feel God leading you to share about Jesus in a conversation this weekend, let your words be an overflow of your heart.

My prayer for you:  That by doing this three things this weekend you will feel closer to God and more confident and walking in the Spirit, rather than just living in it.

Movie Monday: Yes Man

Movie Monday will be a regular post every Monday taking a movie and applying biblical manhood truth.

Recently we published a post for a follow-up to TheRock for January about busyness and how sometimes we fill our lives with so much activity that we fail to accomplish what God wants us to.  Today we’re taking a different angle on the subject.  Everything we hit on regarding busyness is still true, but sometimes you have to be  Yes Man.

I got my life straightened out with God in college.  It wasn’t an immediate “all-in” move for me.  I was gradually changing from my own ways to God’s.  The pace picked up rapidly when I decided to start doing things that God put before me.  At this point in my life, I had a lot of time to give, and that’s not always the case with everyone all the time.  If you find yourself believing in God and wanting to do more for His kingdom, then it’s probably time to start saying “Yes”.

The movie on this topic is a no-brainer, right?  It’s Yes Man with Jim Carrey.  Here’s the trailer:

I was an OSU college student slowly phasing out of the party scene but still found myself at Joe’s on Thursdays, Murphy’s on Fridays or a house party on Saturday.  Sure I had fun, but I didn’t really want to live that way anymore.  Looking back, I was saying yes to the wrong things.  I really wanted to live a life that God wanted for me, but I wasn’t making myself available to it.

I had been attending a LifeChurch in Stillwater and one weekend my buddy Brandon suggested I start serving with him on the parking team.  To that, I said my first yes.  Soon after that, I said yes to serving with the youth and became the youth pastor’s right-hand man.  Then the college pastor asked me to go on a weekend mission trip with them.  The only questions I asked was “when?”, and when I made sure I was free, I said yes without knowing who, where, why or what.  I had become a Yes Man.

After that mission trip, I attended a LifeGroup for the first time and then went back to Tulsa for the summer.  I found a small group in Tulsa for that short time period and that college pastor called me before returning to Stillwater for the next school year.

“Hey Matt, would you be up for leading a LifeGroup this semester?”  

I had just started going to a group.  Never had the idea of leading one entered my mind.  Being in the “yes mode”, I obliged.  Everything I listed above happened in less than two semesters of school.  From drinking at parties and bars to parking team to youth leader to college mission trip to leading a LifeGroup.  Once I decided to say “Yes”, God made the path for me and I had no idea what he was doing.

These days, I find myself more so in the position needing to say No, but I wouldn’t have gotten here had I not been saying yes at times in my life.  You know which side of the fence you’re on right now.  We have plenty of opportunities to serve at TrueNorth.  As a matter of fact, we have a new Volunteer Coordinator so if you feel like you need to say Yes to something, hit up Chad Pennington at warriorheart44@gmail.com.

How do you start engaging in the larger story?  You said Yes to the opportunities God puts before you.

My prayer for you:  That God brings you the opportunities and you don’t give Satan any room to talk you out of it.  Keep your eyes on God and respond with immediate obedience when he prompts you. 

Movie Monday: Inception

Movie Monday will be a regular post every Monday taking a movie and applying biblical manhood truth.

A day late but a it’s good, quick message through the film Inception.  Leo and his crew are planning to into a man’s mind via his dream and plant an idea him that will lead to a very specific action.  I’m purposely avoiding any spoilers because if you haven’t seen it, you need to get on it.

As they plan, they debate using a positive experience or negative experience to influence their subject.  Watch the beginning of the clip again and pay attention what Leo says when it’s suggested to use the subject’s stressed relationship with his father.  He rejects it and suggests that “positive emotion trumps negative emotion every time”.

That’s how are heavenly works.  Think about all the stories you’ve heard and even you’re own story.  Why do we always see freedom when guys transparently share the worst of the worst in their lives?  It’s because the positive emotion we get from God’s loving response to that authenticity trumps the negative shame that we previously felt.

I love the word the he uses:  Catharsis A purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension.

Check out John 8:31-36

My prayer for you today:  That you let the goodness of God into your day so it can trump the negative aspects of the real world in your life.

 

Movie Monday: Cool Runnings

Movie Monday will be a regular post every Monday taking a movie and applying biblical manhood truth. 

Do you have one of those childhood movies that you remember watching over and over?  For me, that was Cool Runnings back in the VHS days.

Have you ever experienced a setback in your walk with God that left you discouraged about moving forward again?  Maybe you haven’t seen the results you expected and struggle with continuing the work God put before you.  Or is it that the challenges you’ve faced have you thinking that the role you’re in isn’t really for?

Once you start a new journey God’s given you, there will be moments that you feel out of place and might even question what in the world you’re even doing.  Kind of like four Jamaicans going to Canada for the first time to compete in the Winter Olympics.

Not only will you feel uncomfortable at times, you’re going to crash.  God never promises us a smooth path.  Living for God is often times the opposite.  Being a Christ follower certainly gives you freedom but it doesn’t promise you an easier life.  Check out the first run the Jamaican bobled team took on an actual track.  Spoiler:  It doesn’t go so well.

They weren’t feeling too great about their chances after that first run, but they didn’t quit.  It pushed them to work harder, study the course and become more of a team.  The road was rough even from that point, but they found themselves with a chance to win a medal on the third and final day of racing.

Many of us at TrueNorth have experienced this.  I’ve found myself questioning my own role in the organization, which led to doubting my purpose here and being discouraged about what I was doing and if it was making an impact.  What I’ve realized is that not everything I do, even if I’m on the right path, is going to work.  God will let me fall on my face, but he wants persistence from me.

“For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity”  Proverbs 24:16

Here’s another

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart”  Galatians 6:9

We can’t lose heart in doing God’s work.  I have to understand that God is pleased with my work and find joy in that alone.  The results are His, not mine.  I love this ministry and I’m honored God has chosen me to be a part of it.

Now, about the finish.  We have to run the face to the end, however we’re most likely not going to cross the finish line how we picture it.  The Jamaicans were cruising on their last run.  They could taste the medal.  They were going to shock the world with an incredible final run.  They did shock the world and they were heroes, but it didn’t happen like they would have planned it themselves.

My prayer for you:  Don’t get discouraged.  Know that God is pleased with your works.  Finish.

God’s Grace in Revelation

Most people hear “Revelation” and think end times, destruction and wrath, and understandably so because that’s all in there.  My small group is in the middle of studying the last book in the Bible and it has been fascinating.  Among all the  judgment in Revelation, there’s another key component that’s critical:  Grace.

We recently discussed Chapters 8-11 and the seven trumpets.  God hands seven angels a trumpet and after each one blows its trumpet, some sort of destruction to the world follows.  It would be easy to read through these chapters and only visualize all these judgments taking place, but it’s important to understand the role of the trumpets.

They’re a warning.  Why would God warn people about coming destruction?  In our world, when you want to destroy those who oppose you, the element of surprise is usually a helpful tool.  He doesn’t want to surprise anyone.  He’d rather give everyone a chance to surrender their life and live eternally with Him.

It’s not too late to surrender everything to Him.  For those of you who keep your struggles and sins protected internally, God’s grace is sufficient no matter how far down the wrong path you are.  I was listening to NF’s “Mansion” the other day and the lyrics were powerful.

This room’s full of regrets, just keeps getting fuller it seems
The moment I walk in to it is the same moment that I wanna leave
I get sick to my stomach every time I look at these things

When you bury your wounds and your sins, the weight keeps getting more difficult to bear.  It’s difficult to pick and choose which lyrics to apply (which is why I provided a link to the song in the last paragraph), but the third verse is so strong:

So this part of my house, no one’s been in it for years
I built the safe room and I don’t let no one in there
Cause if I do, there’s a chance
That they might disappear and not come back
And I admit I am emotionally scared to let anyone inside
So I just leave my doors locked
You might get other doors to open up but this doors not
Cause I don’t want you to have the opportunity to hurt me
And I’ll be the only person that I can blame when you desert me
I’m barricaded inside
So stop watching
I’m not coming to the door
So stop knocking, stop knocking
I’m trapped here
God keep saying I’m not locked in
I chose this

You have to remember, you chose to lock everything inside but God is saying, “Open up. Let me in.  I got you.”  Don’t live with everything locked inside.  Whatever you feel trapped in, I guarantee you there’s a way out and that’s through Jesus.  I highly recommend you check out one of our next events or find a men’s group.  We establish environments where men can be transparent with each other, and the healing process that follows leads men to a living a life of freedom from everything that has held them down.

MANSION JTH

Open up the mansion.

Movie Monday: Coach Carter

Movie Monday will be a regular post every Monday taking a movie and applying biblical manhood truth.  No spoilers!

One of the beautiful things about TrueNorth Ministries is the cohesiveness of all the guys who attend our events.  We’ve experienced complete strangers sharing their stories and supporting each other through them.  We welcome anyone and believe that God can use everyone’s story if they will allow Him to.

You truly feel like one of many brothers at TrueNorth.  That’s all because God made our ministry that way.  My favorite illustration of a strong brotherhood in a movie is from Coach Carter.  One of the guys quit the team and wanted back on.  Coach Carter gave him an impossible task (a ridiculous amount of suicides and pushups in a limited amount of time), but it was only impossible if he was on his own.  And although he deserved to be on his own, he wasn’t.

What I love most about this clip, is thinking about how Coach felt.  This team had come a long way but at this moment he had to think, “They finally get it.”  Can you imagine the amount of joy in God’s heart when he sees all parts of his body committed to one another.  Living for others like his own son lived for us.

It’s not about fairness.  We should be thrilled about that.  It’s about laying down our own freedoms for the good of our brothers.  This week, look for opportunities to take the selfless route to help one of your brothers.

TheRock Roundup – Busyness Time

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!

Satan would love to keep us distracted by constant activity.  He wants us to buy into the lie that we have to be doing a lot of stuff to have any value in this world.  He throws stuff at us to make us busy and uses it against however he can.  At TheRock last week, we looked at three key things to focus on regarding our busyness

Avoid Pride in Your Busyness

Surely every man walks about like a shadow; Surely they busy themselves in vain; He heaps up riches, And does not know who will gather them  Psalms 39:6

To keep the Christmas spirit going, let’s illustrate the concept of having pride in your busyness with a movie clip from the best Christmas movie out there, Christmas Vacation.

Clark calls for the drum roll and gets everyone around part of the big reveal of what he’s done.  He had big expectations for all the time he spent working on those lights, but he didn’t have the power source figured out.

It seems silly to be prideful about being busy, but we do it all the time.  For me, it’s when people ask, “What’s new?”  I feel the need to provide an answer that will show them that I’m doing things with life.  It has to be impressive.  Why?  Because Satan tricks me into equating busyness with importance.

Busyness isn’t a bad thing, but we have to have our priorities aligned with God’s.  Colossians 3:23 is the key verse in fighting pride in your busyness.

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men

Be Productive, Not Just Busy

Being a man of God doesn’t mean that God hands you a lifetime to-do list.  Walking with God means you spend time with him and listen to his voice.  When he prompts you to take a step, you take it.  He might follow up with another soon after and he might want you to remain in that step for an extended period of time.

Satan loves to distract us with constant activity.  If you’ve ever found yourself saying, “There’s just not enough time in the day,” you’re saying God messed up in the third verse of the Bible.  He created the days perfectly and we do have time to accomplish exactly what he wants us to do.  We have to determine whether all our activity is actually what God wants from us.

The story of Martha and Mary hosting Jesus is a perfect illustration of this.  From Luke 10:

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard Hiw word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Therefore tell her to help me.  And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her. 

I can understand how Martha wanted to serve Jesus.  Imagine hosting Jesus in your home.  Wouldn’t you want to make sure everything was clean and be as hospitable as possible?  But Jesus just wanted her to chill with him.  He wants us to chill with him.

All those things Martha was doing were good things, but it wasn’t what Jesus wanted.  She was consumed with her busyness when Jesus was sitting right in front of her.

Pause from Your Busyness

There are times to work and there are times to pause.  One of the simplest quotes in the Bible is one that our world has made insanely difficult to obey:

Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

Sometimes God wants us to be like Mary and just be with Him.  Brad Montgomery (our TrueNorth President) put it this way:  “I have to schedule time to be loved on by God.”

We have to be proactive about pausing from our busyness.  The first step is recognizing what your “pause” looks like.  It might be taking time to physically be still and rest.  For others, your pause might be some form of activity.  I recently found that I feel mentally rested after cutting up firewood, even with the noise of the chainsaw and physical labor with the ax.  But my mind was at complete rest.

If we don’t take a pause from our busyness, we might miss key directions from God.  He might be telling you to change your course, but your head is down and going full speed ahead so you miss it.  Make the pause a priority.

My prayer for you is that those three simple ideas help you live 2016 being busy in ways that please God.  You work for him, not for anyone else.  Just walk with Him and be obedient.  He’ll keep you at just the right amount of busyness.

 

Movie Monday – Maze Runner

Movie Monday will be a regular post every Monday taking a movie and applying biblical manhood truth.  No spoilers!

My wife and I sat down to watch Maze Runner this weekend because one of our neighbors mentioned it to us and said it was like Hunger Games, which we’re all in on.  I might have enjoyed it more than my wife (although I’ll bet she’ll want to be around when I watch the sequel), but it had a lot of “guy stuff” in it.

The premise is that a group of guys (some just boys) are trapped in the middle of a maze with no idea how they got there and no recollection of who they were before they were there.  Some have been there for years.  The maze doors open in the morning and close in the evening, and they have a select few maze runners who go out during the day to find a way out.

So here’s a clip of the guys waiting for the runners to come back and it’s about time for the door to close (nobody has ever survived in the maze overnight).  The rule is that nobody can go into the maze unless they are a designated runner, but the new guy, Thomas,  sees things differently…

Here’s what I want you all to take to heart in 2016.  There are going to be a lot of reasons to not take certain risks.  Not all of them will be necessary but in order to be a difference maker, you’ll have to go against the grain at some point.

The rules say don’t do it.  Dwelling on the potential repercussions tell you don’t do it.  The more you think about it, the more you’ll talk yourself out of something.  I get you might have a family to think about.  So do I.  I’m not asking you to actually risk your life, but trust God with something big and take your family on the journey with you.

Another scene I love later in the movie, and couldn’t find online, is when Thomas gets into a fight with a guy who’s been there for three years.  The guy is pissed that Thomas has shown up and breaks the rules and things start to change.  Thomas hits him back with truth, “You’ve been here for three years and you’re still here.  Nothing’s changed!”

Some of you want to experience something extraordinary, something different than your routine.  Have you heard the definition of “insanity” that it’s basically doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?  If you want to see God do miraculous things in your life, and feel like you are truly living for Him, then you need to walk with Him first.  Walk with Him.  When you he gives you a step.  Don’t ask questions.  Take it.

Here’s to a 2016 of Walking with God, Engaging in the Larger Story and Living Free.

I Called My Wife a Wench 

I did.  I called her that.  Please understand, it was part in jest, but part serious.  Don’t hate…we joke around with each other like that and we’ve reached the point in marriage where we can get away with a few things like that.  So I’ll preface this with:  I DO NOT CONDONE CALLING YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER/FAMILY MEMBER A WENCH.  That could make for a long holiday season for you.  I digress…
After having a VERY explicit conversation about how we were not going to buy each other a gift this year for Christmas, I looked under the tree 3 days ago and saw a gift to me, from her.  True to our previous conversation, I HAD NOT purchased a gift for her, and all I saw in my future was the sweaty, over-crowded mall/Wal-Mart/Target during the Christmas season that I, hereforto, had avoided (thank you, Amazon Prime.  Quick commercial that will delight Chris Murphy…please go to AmazonSmile and register TrueNorth as your charity of choice.  Again, I digress…).
What happened was not surprising and predictable:  “Honey, we said we weren’t buying each other gifts.  I haven’t gotten you anything.”  “Oh, honey, you’ll understand when you open it.  You’ll be delighted.  Besides, I don’t want anything for Christmas.”  Yea.  Right.  The ole Jedi mind-trick of women…is she serious?  Is she just saying that to not make me feel bad?  Is she testing me?  Does “No” really mean “Yes”?!?  AAGGH!!  The pressure.  The pressure to get her something.  So, I handled it in a Godly way:  I called her a Christmas Wench.
I did.  I called her that.  Joking of course.  Kinda.  As we unpacked this, I realized the pressure and expectation I felt is built on this concept of RECIPROCITY.  Because Google has replaced Webster, here’s how this Google-guy defines reciprocity:  the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit.  The expectation, knowledge or at least hope, that somewhere down the road you will be repaid for an action you were responsible for.
And, like God does with ya’ll too, He began to show me a few things about my heart and this Christmas season:  The Kingdom of God is not built on reciprocity.  God gave me the greatest gift of all when I wasn’t even close to deserving it (Romans 5:8), and there’s NO WAY I can EVER repay what He did for me (Ephesians 2:8-9).  A free gift of life, freedom and adventure only has one logical, rationale response from me:  accepting it, gratefully.  Embracing it whole-heartedly.  And, like it was a new shirt you get on Christmas, putting it on and living it so others can see the gift.
This Christmas and in 2016, I want to live in that truth, that Jesus was God’s greatest gift to me and there’s no amount of striving that could ever repay that.
On behalf of all of the leadership team at TrueNorth Ministries, I just want to tell you THANK YOU for sharing your gifting, your story, and your time with other men so they could be in an environment where they could hear from their Father about how WIDE and DEEP and LONG the gift is He wants to give them.  No exchange, no expectation from the Father that we will “repay” the gift.  Just the delight of a good son on Christmas morning, opening up a gift that leaves his jaw dropped, and in response he runs to hug his Daddy.  It’s just so good.  It’s a reflection of The Kingdom.
Let’s continue to orient men to run to His embrace.
Love you guys,
Monty
WALK | ENGAGE | LIVE
P.S.  Don’t call your wife a wench.

TheRock Roundup: The Power of Your Story

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!

Alright I’m late on TheRock follow up post but it’s here now and the message Trey Dixon delivered is just as good today as it was yesterday.  Trey used Luke 8 to portray a biblical story to set the stage for us.  Jesus and his disciples were sailing across the Sea of Galilee to Gadara. When they hit shore, the demon-possessed man came running to them (Trey referred to this guy as Crazy Phil).

“And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs ”  Luke 8:27

Jesus cast out the demons from him and they entered a herd of swine.  When people from the town came to see what happened, Crazy Phil was…just Phil now.  The people became fearful and asked Jesus to leave, so he did.  (Luke 8:32-37)

Phil (in case you forgot, we don’t actually know that’s his name) wanted to leave with Jesus but Jesus turned him away and left him with one command in v. 39:

“Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.”

Three Key Takeaways

1)  Your story is unique and it’s yours. People love stories.  Why do you think Facebook, Instagram and other social media outlets are so popular?  They’re representative of our stories.

2)  People can (try to) argue theology.  They can’t argue your story.  When Phil spread word of what Jesus did for him, people had no evidence that Jesus didn’t heal him.

3)  There are people who know you who don’t know God.  Let God work through your story to reach them.

We’ll leave you with this incredible story from Randy Spears, a former pornstar of 25 years.  Well worth the 7 minutes.