Our Divided Hearts

Excerpted from “Every Man Ministries” by Kenny Luck

Walt Disney’s cast of animated characters is well known ‘ or, dare I say, burned into our childhood and adult psyches. The all-time favorite in our home (as well as Disney’s all-time box-office champion) is The Lion King. By proxy, I have watched this story of Simba, the little lion who would be king, at least a million times. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I caught on to the powerful theme beating at the center of the story. It’s a theme that vividly illustrates my spiritual journey and battles, and perhaps yours as well.

Simba, born the son of a lion king named Mufasa, revels in his identity and the future possibilities of royalty. As the song goes, he ‘just can’t wait to be king!’ But when envious Uncle Scar engineers Mufasa’s death and blames it on Simba, the young lion is deceived into thinking that he must leave the kingdom and never return. In exile, lonely and ashamed, he is befriended by Pumba, a big-hearted warthog, and Timon, a manic meerkat.

Simba finds a new family, a new home, and a new way of thinking ‘ all of which help him disguise his past and his true identity.

We are more
than what
we have become!

But while Simba assembles the trappings of a new identity, his true self dogs him, prompting deep conflicts within his heart. In an awkward but telling moment, he denies this father, and in turning his back on his father, Simba denies his true identity. The charade eats away at him until this encounter with a wise, prophetlike baboon named Rafiki:

Simba: Stop following me. Who are you?

Rafiki:
The question is, Who are you?

Simba:
I thought I knew, but now I am not so sure.

Rafiki:
Well, I know who you are.

Simba:
I think you’re a little confused.

Rafiki:
Wrong! I am not the one who is confused. You don’t even know who you are.

Simba (walking away): Oh, and I suppose you do?
Rafiki: You’re Mufasa’s boy!

Simba’s jukebox has been unplugged. Eager yet afraid to reclaim his identity, Simba follows Rafiki through a dark jungle that leads to a water’s edge. Peering into the water, Rafiki helps Simba take a long, hard look. As the young but maturing lion stares at his own reflection, he sees the face of his father, Mufasa, overtake his image.

‘You see’he lives in you,’ says Rafiki with great wisdom.

We are caught between
divided loyalties and competing identities
which cause conflicting angst.

It’s at this pivotal moment that Simba’s father comes in a cloud and speaks into his son’s confusion (voiced by James Earl Jones at his deepest and best).

Mufasa: Simba!

Simba: Father?

Mufasa: Simba, you have forgotten me.

Simba:
No. How could I?

Mufasa:
You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become.

Mufasa nails the general feeling that grings away at most Christian men. We are more than what we have become. We, too, are caught between divided loyalties and competing identities ‘ real ones and false ones ‘ which cause conflicting angst. Like Simba, our time for talking has passed because God is finished listening to the reasons why we can’t move forward. Our divided hearts must be confronted, or as Psalm 86:11 calls out, ‘Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.’

Need help reclaiming your true identity? Join us at our next Every Man’s Battle workshop.

Redeeming the Thorns; Staying Close to Gods Heart

Victor Tarassov

Have you ever wondered why we sometimes just can’t seem to overcome our battles by shear will power? We do the same things over and over even though we don’t want to. I know I have been wrestling with that question. It is hard if not impossible to overcome or deal with a thorn by yourself. And I think I am finally coming to grips with the fact that the Christian’s life is totally impossible to live unless’ Keep reading.

Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians in chapter 12:7-10, (NIV) describes the thorn that he has, asks the Lord to remove it three times, (how many times have we asked) and yet the answer Paul is given is, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness” v.9 Hmm. That goes against every addict’s or persons thinking in recovery that wants to be self-sufficient or do it in their own way. Actually there is an implication here that says we may have thorns in our life, but the Lord may chose not to remove them but give us the grace to deal with them.

I have struggled with loneliness, depression and other difficulties. I have asked the Lord to remove them but what I am finding is that these thorns can be an invitation and gift from the Lord for intimacy and deep fellowship. I believe that this is true and when I don’t go to Him I lose life. Maybe some of us need to reconsider the thorns in our life and see them not as a curse but a gift to make us dependent on the Lord and a call to intimacy with Him. I know that I have had to come to this place even with all I know, my education, experience, etc. I still cannot overcome my pride and other issues by myself. My pride can kill my spiritual walk. Ask yourself how are you doing in this garden of thorns

We do the same things over and over
even though we don’t want to.

In John 15:5 Jesus says apart from Him we can do nothing. I think it is impossible to live the Christian life with out our complete radical dependence on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So this passage points out again that it can’t be done alone. We will have to choose whether we will move to numbing or escaping pain i.e. addictions and acting out which leads to death or dependence on the Lord, which leads to life. In the book of James chapter 1:2-4 we are told that we will not escape trials/temptation. But if we do stand up to them and make healthy choices that depend on the Lord for help we will receive a crown of life v.15. We need the Lord but we also need community/people to help us handle our thorns. We may have put the thorns in our life, but to be in recovery means I can’t do it alone I need the Lords and the Lords people to help me. I just want to make sure that no one thinks it’s just the Lord and me. God created community and gave us the church so we can heal and recover from the consequences of sin. This is done in fellowship with the body of Christ the church.

God created community
and gave us the church
so we can heal!

May we see our thorns, whatever they may be as a gift to grow closer to the risen Lord and experience His grace?
Some action steps:

1. Admit we have them and identify them.

2. Talk with the Lord about them; we can ask Him to remove them but if they are there let’s see them as opportunity to deepen our dependence on Christ.

3. Share with others in a small group or support group setting as well as a close friend or pastor.

4. Allow for time with Gods grace to begin to strengthen and change your character you so you can respond in new healthy way that leads to life and not death.

5. Prayer as a constant chat with the Lord and a constant connection to Him in your mind.

6. Clean out our garden where there are thorns. What do we watch on TV? Where do we go with our free time? Clean house.

I wish you all a blessed Christmas and pray that the thorns in your life will drive you to the passion that brought Christ (Emanuel) on earth for us.

Get Busy Living

From what movie is this quote?
If you’re not busy living, you’re busy dying.’

Answer: Shawshank Redemption.

Spiritually, we are busy dying when we continue to feed our sexual addiction. You know that. And we can easily testify up close and personally, it is the nature of the flesh to war against the things of the Spirit. We know that God intended us for relationships. God has ordained us for love and passion. Lust is the perversion of that God intended desire. Lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, lust of the world. Lust becomes the substitute for not having that legitimate God-given desire fulfilled. It is the counterfeit for what God intended and becomes overpowering when we haven’t found a way for God to meet us at our deepest needs.

Sexual lust is one of the most destructive forms of the garden varieties of lust. For sure, it has been the week of weeds in my garden! It is destructive and can end up controlling our lives. The personal pain, shame and humiliation, and the devastation it causes ourselves and our loved ones is a tragic reality.

The more we succumb to this activity, the weaker and more defeated we feel. The sense of hopelessness and despair from this sin can be crushing. That has led to more than one brother, myself included, to such a sense of despair that it seemed easier to give up and quit than to keep going. I even had thoughts of walking away from the Lord altogether. To chuck this Christian gig and concede defeat, to quit and accept spiritual death. Enough said. That was then, this is now.

O.K., so now you have read the book Every Man’s Battle, you’ve been working the program, and you are beginning to experience some periods of sobriety. There are days and maybe even breakthroughs and you are gaining victory over this area of your life. There are some breakthroughs and you are feeling that maybe overcoming this activity that was ruining life is a possibility. Sexual purity becomes a happening thing. The tools from the book and if you went to the workshop the action plan developed are beginning to translate into a lifestyle that is leading to sexual purity and a sense of self-respect that is gaining momentum. So now what? How to go to the next level.


*************************************

There is more
to sexual sobriety
than not acting out.
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As you are beginning to move through the stages of recovery, it becomes more evident that there is more to sexual purity than just turning away from the old sin; you need to replace it with something more fulfilling and truer to God’s original design. There is more to sexual sobriety than not acting out.

Now that you are gaining some momentum, you may be ready to start looking towards the hills and mountains of God’s kingdom again and need to redirect.

Let me ask you a question. Do you know what God’s purpose and calling is in your life? What is God’s path for you now, at this time? What adventure has God set before you?

This is a common theme of many of the men that I have worked with and been a part of my break-out groups at EMB. Once the sexual sin has taken hold and the destruction takes place, if you have a sense of calling, of dreams that God has placed in your heart they’re can be shattered, becoming a casualty from the lost battle.

Even though the destruction has occurred, the war has already been won by our Lord so do not despair. There will come a time, maybe now, when it is indeed time to renew this important piece of our lives again. It may be that this brokenness and reconciliation is all a part of God’s larger plan and a major piece in your calling from here forward.

It certainly has been true for me.

After my fall, I was certain that God would not use me again. I thought I would have to resign myself, that I had blown it sufficiently enough that I would have to be content with the back of the line, in the basement of the Kingdom. No more Christian goodies for me, only menial tasks like taking out the garbage or changing toilet paper rolls for the body of Christ. I had blown it. I had ruined God’s perfect plan for my life. God would never trust me again with anything important ‘ so I thought. I had lost sight that God uses everything, nothing gets lost, nothing is wasted. So do not give up hope. God can use this weakness to make you strong. What we view as failure can be used mightily by Him. That is His job you know!

So pick up your cross, get back into the mix. Talk to the Man, check it out. God, where do you want to take me with this from here? Which way to the mountains. You might be surprised. Get busy living!

If you haven’t already attended Every Man’s Battle, what’s keeping you? See Every Man’s Battle and register for the next weekend!

Sam Fraser