Luke 14:28 28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?
I don’t know what I thought being a Christ follower would be when I dropped to my knees over 5 years ago and cried out for a transformed life. In fact, I don’t know that I was looking forward at all, I just knew I hated where I was and where I had been.
Sure I was a rock star in my career earning rewards and bonuses, I had long term friendships and a son who I’ve always been so incredibly proud of – but I was dead inside living a double life as a porn addict and alcoholic. There was a hurt that nothing could reach.
That morning was simply the deepest place of brokenness and surrender I have ever experienced in my life. After 45 years of dong it my way I was done and I’ve often shared in my testimony that if I would have had a gun in my hand instead of a bible that morning I could have easily used it instead for relief from the pain and misery.
I started out incredibly zealous. I saw God moving all around me and as my eyes were opened to what I never noticed before I was amazed. Like the crowds following Jesus watching Him do miracles of healing the sick, resurrecting the dead and feeding thousands of hungry people in a single sitting… well how could they NOT be mesmerized; He was the best show in town.
In that first year I think I had this Pollyanna view of Christianity that if I was just patient enough God would fix my relationships & finances and use me to change the world.
And as I waited, I professed over and over “I’m all in Lord” through tears of joy in my newfound relationship with an all powerful and holy God.
And in my new freedom I gained a new level of self-control and my health was restored through a commitment to healthy eating, exercise and working with my doctors. I lost 80 lbs, got off all meds and after just 10 months my doctor paraded me through her waiting room as a testimony to a life physically transformed.
I also went all-in at church by volunteering as an usher, got plugged in to Celebrate Recovery, and began consuming the bible with a hunger to know more of Him and His Word. And I grew spiritually, all the while continuing to profess “I’m all in Lord”.
Through CR and other men’s bible study and recovery groups God began to reveal the source of all those years of alcohol, drug and lust addictions. As an only child raised in a Godless home with a father who was a rageaholic and a mother who was a suicidal alcoholic and being physically, emotionally and sexually abused by several people both inside and outside the home my inner self was deeply confused, wounded and fighting ghosts of my past.
I have come to learn that Satan had written a narrative on my soul that I didn’t even know existed.
The more I realized how much I was governed by those thoughts and beliefs outside of my conscious awareness I got down to work in letting God restore what the locusts had stolen with a continual profession – I’m all in Lord.
I pressed into Christian counseling and got even more involved in church and recovery groups. A seemingly endless stream of workbooks, deeper relationships and rivers of tears boiled over uncontrollably as I bravely looked into the face of evil.
Not only by rightly placing ownership of the evil that was done to me as a child on the perpetrators that committed those acts; but what was becoming more prevalent in my awareness was the pain I had caused others through my own misdirected self-preservation through addictions and isolation.
And through those first few years when I wasn’t even looking I found myself pressing toward my calling. As I discovered the power of forgiveness and making amends I found a new purpose in the midst of the hurts. I had discovered I could encourage other men to lean into Christ for direction and healing on our shared journey of redemption simply by openly sharing my journey, the good and the bad.
Around year 3 of my new walk with Christ I felt a call to move to a new area but I didn’t know exactly why. Yes it was closer to my son and there was a pastor I was drawn too but I otherwise had no idea what this new season would bring.
Within a few months (long story short) I found myself helping my new church launch a men’s recovery and discipleship ministry. Simply by giving my testimony at a Saturday men’s conference it helped spur over 50 men to sign up for Every Man’s Battle and Pure Desire workshops.
Me of all people – just a broken man plucked from the ashes by a gracious Savior – with nothing but The Blood and a testimony in my arsenal now found myself at the core of a new ministry and men were responding.
And all the while I continued to profess “I’m all in Lord”.
It is now coming up on 2 years since that ministry started and men continue to respond to the call to go deeper.
There is a battle raging in our homes, communities and even our churches and Satan is winning the street war. Men are hurting, broken, weakened, silenced and medicating. Workaholism, addictions, anger, fear, materialism, adrenaline junkies; the tools are endless that Satan uses to kill, steal and destroys our relationships and to distract us from our true calling as Disciples of Christ.
Which brings me to the reason for this blog this morning and the struggles in my heart and soul. With all the successes on the front lines of men’s discipleship and recovery ministry I realize my own soul has become desolate and thirsty again.
My hope has been waning, my body is tired, my spirit grows weary as I look around and realize that unless Christ returns soon I will not witness with my own eyes a time when the need isn’t far outweighing the workers.
Along with 3 weekly groups and working 50-60 hours a week at my day job, every free moment in between is filled with my son or meeting with men one-on-one either in person or on the phone to encourage and counsel.
The hurts the men (and women) have are VERY real. Satan is good at what he does and marriages are suffering, addictions are destroying and even taking lives, fear is crippling and silencing and idols are distracting men from their God-given calling and purpose to be spiritual warriors in their homes, workplaces, churches and community.
And I now find myself all of a sudden 5+ years into this journey realizing that this is what all-in looks like, this is what I have been professing all these years.
I had been saying the words “I’m all in” but I now think inside I was still waiting for the relationships and finances to be fixed so I could get on with my own life.
Luke 14:25-26 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.
27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
I am realizing that my physical exhaustion is very possibly not because I’m taking on too much but because somewhere along the line of doing the right stuff I lost sight of the right reason.
My journey started out in awe of God. My toils were in pursuit of relationship and healing.
As a spiritual newborn “all in” simply means to bravely face the brokenness of our past by following, listening to, believing in and trusting Christ.
But as we mature eventually we must graduate and “all in” means we give up everything to serve Him by loving all of His creation sacrificially. It becomes our responsibility to respond to the equipping and calling God places on our lives.
Am I willing to do that?
Revelations 2:3-4 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
Revelation 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
Revelation 2:23b …and all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.
Excerpts from AA “How It Works”
Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.
2 Timothy 1:9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time
2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble
Father God I thank you this morning that you reveal Yourself in bite sized pieces. I don’t know if on that morning of January 3 2011 if You had shown me the depths of where you wanted to take me I would have been so eager to surrender, but now I confess just as Peter responded in John 6 “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
I believe on that morning I accepted You Jesus as my Savior but I now realize my struggle remains to make you my Lord. I still have one foot in each world seeking comfort, pleasure and freedom from hardship yet as I look at the men and the world around me and realize how my testimony IS my equipping and You are my strength that I here and now continue to profess “I’m all in Lord”.
Please Father continue to reveal the idols of selfishness, pride and fear which dictate to me that I need to do more or I need be different and simply allow me to just be content in serving You with all that I am and bravely continue to face those areas of my life that need repentance. I know that I am justified by the blood, help me to be OK in the journey of sanctification; to know it is YOU who will bring to completion what YOU began as I continue to discover what it means to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling.
To you alone be the glory in all things and in all ways. In Jesus precious name I pray…