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    FriFridaySepSeptember8th2017 Dependent Masculinity

    For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
    “In returning and rest you shall be saved;
         in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
    But you were unwilling,
    (Isaiah 30:15, ESV)

    That is a verse that my son and I recently memorized together. Of all the verses we have been working on it has struck me the most. It grabs my attention because it is so contrary to what I tend to hear and even foster in my own life.

    The verse sits in the context of a strong rebuke from God toward Israel. As is often the case in my own life, the people of God at that time had taken matters into their own hand, rebelled again and again and were looking for help from other people rather than from God. It is a picture of self-worship and self-sufficiency at its finest.

    However, the life that God calls us into and shepherds us through is not one of self-reliance but one of total dependence, dependence on our loving Shepherd.

    The words of this promise are refreshing. God would have me act in repentance but in a way that is infused with rest. It is a peaceful pursuit and one where I trust in him and not in myself. The New Living Translation puts it this way: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength…”

    I could use more rest, quiet and trust in my life. Could you?

    Unfortunately, my usual protocol looks like “I can do this”, “I can manage,” and “I can fix my problems by myself”. Or, the loudest one: “I just need to work harder.” And, while I must exercise responsibility for my life (even God speaks of the responsibility of repentance, of returning) there are two sides of that coin.

    On one side I can work harder, push harder, believe harder and eventually fall on my face. Or, on the flip side, I can rest and trust, finding my strength in him. The former leads to exhaustion. The latter is my strength.

    For instance, even a quick read of I Corinthians 13 is daunting and leads everyone to the conclusion of “that’s impossible.” I am not patient. I do envy. I do boast. I do fail. My response could be one of working harder. Or, I could experience God’s peace as I rest and trust in him, taking steps of faith and seeing God the Spirit work a heartbeat of genuine love in my life. This is something supernatural. It is a gift from God. It doesn’t mean I don’t work at all. But it does mean I work in a God-reliant way.

    This struggle crosses all ages and both genders. It is not unique to one kind of person. However, it is a topic that connects to men in a unique way. Because of this, we intend to make this the focus of our Men’s Summit this year. How do I be a man, God’s man, do all the things God calls men to be but in a way that is founded on rest and trust, where true strength lies. This is what we are calling dependent masculinity.

    I firmly believe that the weekend of September 29-30 is worth every man’s time and commitment. We won’t solve all of our problems. But I look forward to each of us taking God-honoring next steps of being men who experience God in life-shaping ways, restful ways.

    I hope you join us. You can register at 
    www.ksbc.net/ms17.

    ThuThursdayAugAugust24th2017 Doing Church Without God
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged Church Dependence 0 comments Add comment

    What comes to your mind when you think of the church? Are there any images or analogies that you tend to gravitate toward?

    In his book A Light to the Nations, Michael Goheen suggests a few ways that the average Christian might think of the church in our current cultural climate. Perhaps you can relate to some of these:

    • Church as mall or food court: A variety of programs and services are offered to meet the diverse wants and needs of the congregation.
    • Church as community center: A social context is created where people who share the same beliefs or personal interests can be drawn together.
    • Church as corporation: An emphasis on efficiency and growth drives the congregation to create a brand and market itself for the sake of “profit.”
    • Church as theater: A venue is provided for congregants in which they can sit back and passively enjoy a worship experience built around entertainment.
    • Church as classroom: A comprehensive education in both doctrine and practical living is provided as congregants take on the role of students.
    • Church as hospital or spa: A healing and rejuvenating retreat is offered to those who are wounded or weary from the troubles of the world.
    • Church as motivational seminar: A self-help program is offered to those looking for a weekly pep talk or practical tool kit to navigate the challenges of life.
    • Church as social-service office: A sense of compassion and justice manifests itself in social programs and physical assistance for those in need.
    • Church as campaign headquarters: A political cause is advanced by those who seek to influence the direction of society and push for a more Christianized culture.

    Goheen points out, “Clearly there are many valid activities represented in these images of the church. The church should be teaching, caring for the poor, providing social connections, and so on” (p. 16). But there are a number of problems with these images, as well—among which is the fact that each of them describes the church in such a way that its objectives can be achieved through mere human effort.

    By comparing the church to other man-made institutions, we implicitly suggest that our churchly responsibilities can be perfected and mastered through our own skill and ingenuity. We can create programs and add them to our menu of offerings. We can create marketing strategies and generate growth. We can put on a good show and keep people entertained.

    But although it may bring a certain level of comfort to define the church in a way that lets us be in control, any such view of the church is woefully deficient. The church is a wild sort of thing. It can’t be domesticated and led around by a leash. The more we try to do so, the more we miss the point of the church altogether.

    The church is God’s people on God’s mission, seeking God’s glory and strengthened by God’s power. To reduce the church to a mere social club or theater or food court is to strip it of its very identity. Take God out of the church, and what’s left isn’t a church at all.

    Consider the images we discover in Scripture to describe the church. Many of them clearly point to the fact that we can’t do this on our own. The body of Christ (Rom. 12:5; Col. 1:18) can’t survive without its head. The temple of the living God (1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 2:21) is nothing more than a hollow shell without God’s presence. The new creation (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:15) has no existence apart from the Creator.

    However we envision the church, we need to be careful to do so in a way that prioritizes the indispensable role of our triune God. Corporations and classrooms and community centers are wonderful things. But they can’t come close to capturing the deep sense of dependence that we should feel as members of God’s new covenant community.

    Has your perception of the church pushed God to the margins? If so, let me encourage you to enlarge your vision. Don’t settle for one of the images in the list above. Let your view of the church be so impressively gigantic that you’re left with nothing to say but, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”

    ThuThursdayAugAugust10th2017 You vs. God
    byBill Davis Tagged Dependence Psalms Worship 0 comments Add comment

    Volumes and volumes have been penned on why the Psalms are so essential to our devotional development in the Christian life. They connect in ways that other Scripture doesn’t (not in a superior way, as 2 Tim 3:16 is clear, but still in a rather unique way). The cry of the psalmist can connect to the cry of our soul when we really aren’t sure how to think about God, let alone how to express emotion to him. Sometimes we’re not even sure what those emotions are until the example of the psalmist shows us how to think about our circumstances and gain a broader perspective. Some of the darkest, most dire moments of my life have resulted in the Psalms moving from words on a page to understanding, comfort, wisdom, hope, perspective, and life.

    But thankfully we don’t have to be in the middle of dire circumstances to tap into the life and perspective of the Psalms. How do we make this connection just in our more day-in and day-out moments? I suggest it starts with an unlikely pairing: worship and grammar.

    The Psalms are many things, but they’re nothing if they aren’t a direction to worship. They are songs and poems to express the heart of a worshiper after the heart of God, and the very heart of God himself. I like a definition of worship I once heard that goes something like this: it is rightly recognizing who God is and who I am. The more I rightly see God in all his splendor, sovereignty, and glory, the more I recognize there no one or no thing like him (Ex 15:11)… certainly not me! And thus I start to rightly see who I am – both as one in desperate need of his saving, but also one gloriously and graciously saved and brought to new life!

    Okay, worship makes sense, but grammar? In particular, I think one key way to read the Psalms is to make note of the subject and the predicate (and if you need a little refresher on that, you might enjoy one of our family’s favorite Schoolhouse Rock songs here). Namely, who is doing something, and what are they doing? Now this is where the worship comes in. If worship is rightly viewing God and thereby rightly viewing myself, then I can look to the Psalms to see what does God do, and then I look in the same psalm to see what is my action or response.

    Sarah and I were recently praying for wisdom and direction, and found ourselves looking into Psalm 25. It’s a cry of David for God’s leading and deliverance. But just take a look at some of the verbs assigned to God, and compare them to the verbs assigned to you and me:

    God: lift, save from enemies, make me know, teach me, lead me, remember mercy, remember not sins, love steadfastly, be good, instruct, pardon, guide in choosing, befriend, rescues, turn to me, be gracious, consider me, forgive, guard, deliver, redeem

    Us: trust, wait, keep covenant, fear the Lord, look toward the Lord, take refuge

    Two things quickly become very obvious. First, one list is clearly longer and more active than another. God is saving, teaching, leading, forgiving, and on and on. We’re trusting, anticipating and receiving. I’m not saying that trusting is trivial or easy, but clearly he’s doing all the heavy lifting here!

    Second, it’s quite evident that I all too often try to assign myself God’s list and shirk mine. This is where my worship gets warped. I don’t view God rightly enough and thus think wrongly (more highly, more lowly) of myself. Instead of trusting and waiting, I think I’ll lift myself. I’ll be the one to save myself from my enemies, I’ll figure out my path, I’ll instruct myself, I’ll…  Sound familiar to you, too?

    Oh “turn to me and be gracious to me” Lord! Even when I get this all inside-out in my thinking, the Psalms guide me even in how to repent. Let’s stick to our verbs and grow in trusting God for his. So, walk through the Psalms and take time to write out such “You vs. God” lists of predicates like the above, and let that little bit of grammar drive a lot of worship.

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