Why We Are Doing “Home”

Here’s why:  click on this link and watch the video.

We played a slightly edited version of that bile-inducing footage during yesterday’s message.  As you might imagine, the response was shock and disgust.

And, I suspect, in some quarters the reaction included some secret shame.

That’s because we named the reality that men in church have no doubt played a part in creating the sickening demand for underage girls that leads to the kind of traumatized supply we hope to serve and restore through Home

We’re hoping to redeem what church men have played a part in ruining.

It was all part of an admittedly PG-13 messaged called Man Cave.

Here’s a rough transcript of the sermon:

Some of the guys in this room today have a Man Cave back at home (AV) – a separate room, probably full of sports memorabilia, maybe including a refrigerator for adult beverages, and definitely a high tech entertainment system to watch sports.  And a lot of guys who don’t have such a cave wish they did.  But virtually every guy here – Man Cave or not – has watched this scene from Mel Gibson’s Braveheart:  FREEDOM! Clip.  Oh, so many men, in church and out of it, see that scene, hear that cry, and the heart begins to pump faster and the adrenaline begins to flow harder and it’s like “Yes! That me!  I want freedom! I am free!  Free to fight noble causes! Free from tyranny.  Free to express myself.  Free to be and to do what I want.”  Mel said it (before his troubles), I believe it, and that settles it.

            Gosh, even the bible endorses it!  In Galatians 5:13, while in the middle of a letter that contrasts the rules of religion with life in the Spirit, Paul says it this way: READ 5:13:  “For you were called to freedom, my brothers and sisters.”  Wow!  You’ve got Mel Gibson, you’ve got St. Paul, you’ve got every man in his man cave and it’s clear that every guy in here is free.  Free to spend how you want.  Free to love who you want.  Free to say what you want.  Free to worship where you want.  As LS said, “free as a bird now.”

            Yet, look at what Paul says next: READ 5:13b:  “Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence.”  Where it says “to indulge” there it literally means “as a base of military operations.”  A platform.  So the declaration that we have freedom comes with the caution not to use that freedom as a launching pad for living sinfully.  Because, sadly, both in church and out of church, that’s exactly what we do.  Guys.  In the name of freedom, many of you engage in the kinds of activities in that man cave that leave you ultimately shamed, hollowed, and empty.  And more than that, the kinds of things that leave you ultimately enslaved.

            So I’ll name the main thing I’m talking about.  Porn. Adult entertainment. The sex industry and the escalation that goes along with it and often leads to encounters, rendezvous, and affairs.  Probably 60% of the men in the room are involved in the former and not a few of you in the latter.  You’ve pursued it because you COULD, because you’re 18, because you’re a consenting adult, BECAUSE IT’S A FREE COUNTRY . . . and now that freedom has trapped you.  Bile inducing slavery.  The only reason there is a Girls Gone Wild is because Men Have Gone Crazy and some of you are at the top of the list. 

            Yes, Paul warns us not to use our freedom as an operations base for sin but that’s what so many of us have done, men.  Your current state of enslavement shows exactly why the warning.  It occurs to me – and it kills me to acknowledge it – but if Xn  men (Xn men now!) didn’t do what they do in their Man Caves & beyond, there wouldn’t be the same kind of “market” that leads to sex trafficking & our need to rescue girls with OEWM.  It’s a sad case of supply meeting demand via any means possible.

            Just so you know, this freedom-centered base of operations for sin involves sexual issues but isn’t limited to them.  (They happen to be the ones in my pastoral experience that cause the most damage.)  But for others of you, it has to do with money.  You’re free to spend as you wish – and so you have.  You have the credit rating or the greedy reputation to prove.  Another guy here it’s that temper. You’re free to lose it and so you do – and your own children know all too well what it means to hide under the bed.  And then others have taken the freedom to become couch potatoes and some of you married guys have abdicated any spiritual influence at all to your wives, thinking “that’s women’s work.”  So it involves the salacious sins but that’s not all.

            And can I acknowledge something here?  The church has rarely helped guys in these or any area.  Sometimes it has spoken a much different language than that which you understand.  Think about it: in a lot of churches, maybe the one you grew up, the preacher wore a dress.  At least that’s what the robe looked like to you.  Worship is word-focused, reading-centered . . . and many guys learn better by doingthan reading.  And some of you guys really like thrash metal or at least Black Sabbath & that’s not what you get in even the most cutting edge of churches.  In some ways, the church has tried to feminize you, or at least tame you.  Now: because I like books, study, words, and am clueless w/ tools and have never shot a gun, all that appeals to me.  But to a lot of you, the church has seemed most interested in taming your wild heart, making you nice and has dealt with the secrets of the Man Cave by simply piling on another layer of guilt and shoulds and oughts.

            And because of that experience with church, MOST of you would expect the next line in Galatians 5, the line to follow don’t use your freedom as a base of operations for your sinful nature,to be: RESIST!  DISCIPLINE!  JUST SAY NO!  But no.  The next line is this: READ 5:13c:  “but through become slaves of one another.” (NRSV)  Huh?  If Paul tells us not to use our freedom as the base of operation for indulgence, shouldn’t he then rebuke us and tell us to reform?  Evidently not!

            See, the kryptonite for guys gone crazy isn’t discipline, it’s slavery.  Love-soaked, Spirit-fueled slavery!  Men: Jesus doesn’t want you nice!  He wants you surrendered!  He doesn’t want you reformed!  He wants you resurrected!  And he knows that he can’t tell you SIMPLY to STOP doing something without also giving you a new, better calling than self-indulgence.  And what is that calling?  It’s right here!  Slavery!  Real freedom comes when you choose slavery.  It’s shocking, it’s counter-intuitive, it’s a paradox, it don’t make no sense! . . . but it’s true. REFRAIN.  Now: slaves to whom?  Well, to God, but we’ll get to that part.  Look more closely at what it says here: slaves to one another.  Uh oh.  Surrender to God begins with slavery to others.

            Married guys: that means you leave here as the slave to your wife.  And get this: DON’T PROMISE HER YOU’RE GOING TO DO IT; JUST DO IT!!!  Women in my experience are sick and tired of hearing guys’ empty promises, the pitiful, “that’s in the past; I’ll be better.”  They are looking for you not to tell them what you’re going to do; tell them what you’ve done.  So today, guys: she sits, you serve.  She talks, you listen.  She communicates, you turn the TV off – even if you want to watch that playoff game.  REFRAIN.

            Dads: it means you are slaves to your kids.  I loved hearing about the brother and sister talking to their dad who was explaining the dif between quality time and quantity time.  “Quantity time is how long you spend with someone.  Quality time is how good that time actually is.  So which do you want with me?”  “Quality time!” the little boy replies, “and lots of it!”  Indeed.  Listen, guys: changing your baby’s diapers will do more for their sense of security in the world than 10 trips to Carowinds.  Did you hear that?! They need you in the routine, the mundane, the day to day, and the Disney days only augment that, it never replaces it.  Drop-by dads don’t impress me; diaper changing ones do.  You become enough of a slave to those little ones and I believe the energy of THAT replaces the urge to use your freedom as a platform for sin.  REFRAIN

            Singles and single agains: get this.  The moment you become, as one pastor says, more interested in who you are becoming than in who you are hunting, watch God work.  God’s greatest goal for you and your life is not your next mate or girlfriend or even sexual conquest.  His goal for you is your spiritual growth.  Spiritual growth doesn’t look the same for all of you, but for each of you it WILL involve a decision to worship and a commitment to gather together beyond Sunday a.m., either serving, learning. REF

            All of you: undergirding your slavery to wives & kids & church people, it’s your slavery to God.  I am so glad that God doesn’t want nice men or sweet men or even reformedmen; he wants NEW men.  Like the son whose dominant memory of his father is early in the morning, praying.  “Nothing,” the guy remembers, “would get in the way of my dad’s early morning appointment with God.”  What will your kids say about you?  You’re free not to make appointments with God!  You’re free-er when you do.  REFRAIN.

            You know why all this matters?  When you use your freedom as an operations base for sin, you WILL GET FOUND OUT.  You’re not the exception.  The leader of the US Spy Agency got exposed!  You’re not as smart as he is!  Every exposure is preceded by failure and every failure is preceded by compromise and every compromise is preceded by temptation and I want to stop the behavior early, early in that cycle.  It’s like someone said to me, “It’s not the attraction.  It’s the action.”  There’s not a guy in this place who at some level DOESN’T want to use the freedom they have as a base of operations to indulge every desire they have.  The ones who do get trapped in misery.  The ones who use their freedom to choose slavery to God and to others . . . .ahhhh.  They’re the ones I know who even if they have dark corners in the past are today living lives free of regret and absent of shame.  Guys who embody a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Man cave to prayer closet.

            Even if these struggles are not specifically yours, we have an opportunity to reclaim and redeem much of what has been debased in Man Caves & beyond.  Two weeks from today, on 1.27.13, you’re going to have an opportunity to give, to give well, and to give sacrificially.  (See: you’re free to keep all your money but I guarantee you’re free-er when you give a bunch of it away.)  As we’re building our own homes from the inside out, we’re going to be buying a home for girls who’ve been rescued from sex trafficking.  Our partners at On Eagles Wings do the restoring work in the lives of the girls who’ve been delivered, and we have a marvelous opportunity to provide a safe, secure space for that to happen in.  Guys and girls: you are oh-so-free in Christ when you let loose of money to rescue girls who’ve had so much robbed from them.  Here’s the kind of thing you’ll be able to advance: AUDIO of girl from Brad with nice background.  Our decision is that every dollar collected on 1.27.13 LEAVES (freedom in serving!) and our goal is that there will be $125K of those dollars on one day.  REF

            I thought a lot about how to conclude this experience.  Because I really want the men of GSUMC to be fessed up, cleaned up, and fired up.  But we decided early on NOT to have a kind of bold altar call, Courageous-style, where men stood or kneeled and PROMISED to be slaves.  Because frankly, women, wives, and even pastors are weary of seeing guys make pledges in the heat of emotion that they don’t keep in the dark of their desires.  Instead, here’s what I’m going to ask of guys:

1.      Find an ear.  If this has surfaced some darkness in your particular man cave, stop hiding.  I’ve instructed our male pastors to be available this week and their direct phone numbers are in your bulletin.  That ear may well be a first ear that then directs you to therapy or a help group.

2.      Come to our Steak Out on Saturday 2.2.13 for good food and honest talk with fellow pilgrims.  Drop in basket.

3.      Today, decide with whoever helps you decide what it is you’ll give to buy and restore this home for rescued girls.

4.      Don’t promise to serve as a slave to those closest to you.  Instead, by the power of the HS, do it. This p.m.