When God Calls

Nothing can strike fear into our heart like leaving what is familiar. The thrill of new adventure, new life, or a fresh start, is quickly diminished when we hear "get ready to go". Suddenly our surroundings can look pretty good. Those little things that drive us crazy about our life of mediocrity begin to have a nostalgic glow. The people we need to leave, the places we never wanted to stay and the very things that have held us back, now have a strange magnetic pull. That's for good reason. The predictability of familiarity becomes a dysfunctional friend. Time can build a bond with all that is unhealthy and that bond is only strengthened when fear of leaving it creeps in. Nothing can strike fear into our hearts like leaving what is familiar.

When God say's "arise" he simply means, "to stand, become powerful or arrive on the scene". This is the first test for any person who wants to live life to its fullest. When we're imagining or discussing a richer future it can seem real doable. But optimism and energy can instantly leave us, like someone pulled a drain plug, when God says "arise". All our will-power disappears. Those things you never liked about the status quo, now seem to look okay. The brilliant vision of a richer tomorrow fades to shades of grey. But we can't live in this cycle any longer. Spinning through visions of possibility followed disabling fear must come to an end. Leaving all that's become familiar is a fear that must be crossed over.

The fear of leaving will not simply vanish. With the slightest move we make to stand, we'll feel the increasing weight of fear. But we must cross over it, armed with brutally honest truth about the cost of never leaving. When God say's arise he intends to do a miracle. He won't remove the fear in total, but he will give us the spirit to get over it. In God's economy the only thing worse than not hearing from God is hearing and never moving. A promise needs to be possessed, a calling needs to be claimed, and that means a fear must be crossed over.

Joshua 1:2

Break Free (part 3): Walk Away

We can only follow Jesus when we cut ties with those things that suck the life out of us and hold us back from the abundant life. Becoming a Christ follower implies that we're going to have to walk away from something, and it's for our own good. In order to move ahead toward God's bigger yes for our life, we have to learn to say no.

How do we break away from anything that’s destructive and stealing life from us–Walk Away! The real genius and power of Jesus’ call to “follow me” is that it implies we need to leave something. Jesus knew that if we’re going to get victory, we have to break free. And to break free, we have to walk away. The things that hold us back almost always hold us down. 

The wisest counsel I ever received was to walk away from destructive systems I had set up for myself. To break away from Cocaine, Crown Royal, reckless carousing a huge shift had to happen. Now, God would never ask us to leave a spouse or kids to follow Jesus, but he will ask us to walk away from deadly patterns and obvious sources of temptation. For me to follow Jesus meant I had to fly away, literally. Thirty years ago I boarded a plane. I left a good job, from a monetary perspective, but it was filled with coworkers who lived for the weekend and the next gram of coke. I left a small circle of friends who didn't understand, but as I soon found out, didn't really care. I walked away from the only city I knew to go to a town I'd never seen. And at this new town I was met by a man and a woman who I barely knew but I was certain they loved me and wanted to help me follow Jesus. I doubted at times, got hammered with shame often, but I soon discovered that living as a disciple is worth any earthly price we might have to pay–even to look at the life we’ve made and walk away.

Too many new born Christian's become derailed disciples of Jesus, because we fail to follow Jesus no matter how crazy we may seem. When Jesus said “follow me”, he essentially gave us a clear plan to break free. What’s holding you back and holding you down? By faith we need to take a big first step. Walk away from that group of friends who suck you back into destructive systems. Walk away from that job that keeps stealing life from you in ways you’ve never told a soul. Walk away from that emotional affair, possibly that physical affair. Not another thing has to be listed, God has already placed on your heart what is holding you back and holding you down. So by faith, walk away, and watch what God has just around the bend. 

Matt. 16:24

In my next blog, I’ll share one of my deepest failures and the resulting pain that came just after I followed Jesus. Many of our greatest battles happen just after salvation. Maybe me sharing my failure will encourage you to keep moving.

Chivalry: Part 7 - First Cut

"...a man shall leave his father and his mother."

Sometimes things grow best, right after a fresh cut. Pruning is one of those universal metaphor’s of life. If you want more grapes, put a knife to the branches. If you need a stronger army, trim the ranks. If you desire to see more muscle, burn that fat. It’s no accident that God calls men to sever ties with family. Because the healthiest growth between a husband and wife requires getting some distance from the family tree. 

Yes, it is possible to get distance from mom and dad without dishonoring them. In fact, we must cut ourselves loose without cutting ourselves off. And love for our parents has no strings attached. Men, when we calculatedly do this, it sends a clear signal to our bride, “I’m-your-man”. Real men take the first cut. They demonstrate that this is a new day. Men send a powerful message of love for their bride when they walk her away from his tribe to start a new tribe. Intimacy and adventure are two huge benefits when men are willing to make the "first cut”. 

Some of us got this right away. But for some of us men, it takes decades to realize that we never made that first cut–we never really severed that relationship with our parents and it's hurt our marriage. Don’t condemn yourself another minute. God never wastes a thing and every courageous decision is followed by waves of God’s favor. But what does is look like to cut ourselves loose? Here’s a few categories to think through, you may have more. 

Cut Allegiances - We’re called to honor our father and mother, not defend them. As tough as it is to let down the old family flag, real men raise a new one. 

Cut Traditions - This is probably a huge list but you have to set them all down. Now that doesn’t mean that you won’t pick a few old traditions back up, it just means that you’re cutting them loose long enough to let you and your wife do some cherry picking of the ones you want in the new tribe. 
Cut Cords - Dependence cords are like umbilical cords for adults. Here’s the good news, men. It’s tougher to admit you have dependence cords than it is to cut them. Once you come to grips with all the ways you depend on good ole’ mom and dad, the sooner you can cut them loose. You may need to bare down, dependence cords grow strong over time.

Go ahead, make that first cut, your marriage will thrive!