Discipline and Freedom | Be Strong
Young men are looking for discipline and structure right now. Scripture calls us as men to live disciplined lives, free from sin. Jesus gives us freedom from our past. He fulfills and satisfies us. In this breakout, Jon Rouleau walks through 7 practices that we can find in athletic metaphors in the New Testament.
When men don’t have a purpose, they start to fill it with temporary pleasures. What does it look like for you to be faithful today? Following Jesus requires action from us. God created you for a purpose. Let’s be godly men who pursue Jesus faithfully.
- Matthew 16:24
- 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
- James 3:2
- 1 Corinthians 9:26
- Matthew 4:19
- 2 Timothy 2:5
- Hebrews 12:1-2
- 2 Timothy 4:7
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Read the Transcript Here!
So quick introduction, my name is Jon Rouleau for those of you I haven’t met. I’ve been on staff here at Snowbird since the summer. I met my wife here years ago, I was a youth pastor in Lynchburg, Virginia, where I brought my students here. I was a student pastor and I got saved when I was 19. I didn’t grow up in a Christian world, but got saved, went to Liberty. I have been serving Jesus since then. I’ve been serving in ministry. I was in Los Angeles for about 10 years working on staff at churches. I planted a church right before COVID, it was a great idea, but long story short, the Lord led me and my wife back here, my in-laws living Andrews, and we came back here on sabbatical, and it’s amazing. You come here on sabbatical and Brody gets you on staff, it was crazy how that happened. But super grateful to be here and it’s been an incredible season in our life.
So today, what I wanna do is dive into the Scriptures, and I wanna look at what the Scriptures have to say about discipline. There’s a reason. Brody and I and a lot of the staff were having this conversation, and isn’t it so interesting right now it seems that in our culture, young men are looking for discipline and structure. I heard Brody mention his name and a couple of people, you might have heard their names before, but Jocko Willink, the Navy Seal, Discipline Equals Freedom. Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules For Life. I thought rules were uncool, I thought culture is supposed to be rebellious, and all of a sudden people are looking for rules and that Andrew Huberman or whatever, it’s like structure, science, wake up early, do these things and you’ll find purpose and meaning. And so we’ve been having that conversation, ’cause it seems like there’s an opportunity.
It seems like there’s an opportunity for Christian men and for the church to step into this gap and show people that actually you can find meaning, purpose and fulfillment in your life with Jesus. But it’s so interesting to me that when you talk about the Christian world or like churches in conversations, that it’s almost as if we don’t really have that talk about discipline. I think somewhere in the late 90s or early 2000s, we decided that all discipline was legalistic and so we just threw it out and we just like… We’re not gonna have that conversation anymore. And so a part of really today, and it’s gonna be real basic. But a part of today, what I wanted to do is I wanted to dive in the Scriptures and look at all the metaphors in the New Testament, not all of them, but I wanted to look at the athletic metaphors in the New Testament that are calling us as meant to live discipline lives.
See, the difference for us though is we’re not looking at the act of discipline to bring us fulfillment. See, we know that our fulfillment comes through our relationship with Jesus Christ, so let’s make that clear, that ultimately it’s Jesus in our life that has given us freedom, it’s not the discipline in our life that gives us that freedom. But when you look at the Scriptures, Jesus calls you to be disciplined, is that there’s this invitation and how we practice and live our lives. And so many times we’ve seen it in the church, we’ve seen these pastors, all of a sudden they fall or we hear another story, and you’re wondering how did they get there? But yet the Scriptures are pointing us to a practice, a way, a lifestyle. It’s interesting, the early church Christians, they would say that these men follow the way, and the way was actually a lifestyle that they lived, and they practiced certain things and they behaved in a certain manner, and it looked different than the culture, and it took discipline.
It’s funny. So I started running. I don’t run. Anybody like to run in here? Y’all, that’s crazy. You know you’re with a runner when you start jogging and they wanna talk. And you’re like, no, no, no, this ain’t gonna be happening. I hope you’re gonna ask me yes and no questions, you got about a 30-second window and then it’s mm-hmm. So my wife encouraged me, she said, “Babe, you’re not a runner. You shouldn’t do that.” I said, “Thanks honey.” But a couple of years ago, actually right before COVID, I found out my wife was pregnant. Hey, that’s right. We were 12 years into marriage, and I got married when I was 29, so I was 40 when she got pregnant. We had tried, it never happened, and all of a sudden, boop, here it is.
And the first thought that I had in my mind was, I’m an old dad. I mean, you’re supposed to do this when you’re 20 and I’m 40. You know what I mean? And I got the Hollywood lotion on, I put lotion on my face, I’m trying to stay young and it ain’t happening, you know what I mean? It’s like you hit 40 and stuff hurts, and I’m like, “Okay.” And so I realized in that moment, I was like, man, I started working out.
I’ve kinda always loosely worked out, but I remember I had to start in my mind. I was like, “Man, I’m gonna be like 60 when my daughter is 20, and I wanna be able to whoop up on somebody when my daughter is 20.” And I thought to myself… But I had this real thought, I said, “You know what, if I’m gonna be able to be an active dad in my kid’s life, I’m gonna have to make some lifestyle changes.” And I committed right there, I made this commitment, I said, I came home one day and I told my wife, I said, I’m making this commitment. I am literally working out four days a week for the rest of my life, and I said, I’m committing. I’m changing the way that I eat and I need to make a lifestyle change. And I’ll be honest with you, I’ve kept that commitment. I’m not like 100%, but I am there, and two and a half years later, there has been a lifestyle change in my life, and there’s a reason for that, it’s because I knew, man, I want to be active with my daughter. I had a purpose there and I knew it wasn’t just wishful… I couldn’t just wishful think it. And time goes by and one day I was gonna wake up and then bam! So I had to make some decisions.
And I think that’s one of the things when guys, when men look at… They’re looking for a purpose, they’re looking for a reason, they want something different in their life, and it’s gonna… At some point, you’re gonna have to make a decision if you wanna be something different. And as Christians, at some point you’re gonna have to make a decision that you’re gonna do the hard things, at some point you’re gonna have to make a decision that you are gonna change. Now, Jesus is already in that process with you. I had a friend of mine, he was talking to me about working out, and I was like, “Man, I didn’t wanna work out,” and he said, “Well, ain’t nobody gonna do the push-ups for you.” The funny thing when we talk about discipline, Matthew 16:24, one of the very first invitations. Anyone who would come after me,
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'” – Matthew 16:24
The very invitation to Jesus is self-denial. The very first step is choosing to surrender yourself to God. So right away when you start to follow Jesus, you’re invited to a disciplined life. People use language like self-mastery, and really what we’re talking about as Christians is bringing everything in our life and subject to God. So it’s not just us mastering yourself, it’s allowing Jesus to master us, but it’s us taking control so that we can surrender it to God. It doesn’t mean we don’t play a part in the process. Alright, if you have a copy of the Scriptures, turn to 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
Man, I got so excited I almost forgot to pray. Alright, I’m gonna open us up in prayer. Lord, I love you and just be here with us, Lord, forgive me even for starting without you, God, because I know nothing can happen without you, and so we just ask Lord that you would speak to our hearts through your Word. Thank you that you’ve given us your Word to guide us, Jesus, and I pray for these men in here that you would encourage them and fill them. We love you, God. We ask all this in Jesus name. Amen. Amen.
So this is what I wanna do today. I wanna walk through seven practices that we can find in the athletic metaphors of the New Testament, so there is a ton of practices that we can talk about when it comes to the discipline. So what I wanted to do is I wanted to look at the Scriptures, I wanted to use that as the platform to be like, what is Paul talking about? What is he encouraging us? Challenging us? What is he inviting us into?So the first one is in 1 Corinthians chapter 9:24-27. It says,
“Do you not know that in a race all runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and I keep it under control, lest after I preach to others I myself should be disqualified.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Paul is very conscious of his appetites and his desire and this need for him to bring that into subjection, to bring that into control. In fact, if you look at the language that’s used in this passage, the word discipline, when it says, I discipline my body, it means he’s like I make it black and blue, that he’s fighting against himself. So practice number one is really simple, if you’re taking notes, practice self-control. And I wanna use the word practice, because what I’m encouraging is, this is something that you should be doing on a regular basis.
1. Practice Self-Control
This is a practice that you should have in your life, that you should be practicing self-control. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. I’m a huge sports fan, and the older that you get, I really get interested in these athletes that play later on in life. Like Tom Brady, he is like 43. I know exercise science is so different, but you see Tom Brady, and I’m like watching him in the NHL, I’m like, I still got it then.
I think it was a couple of years ago in the NBA bubble, and it was like they showed this brief picture of LeBron James and he was just ripped out of his mind. You see that? What’s that commercial? He does the tonal. Have you seen that thing? I’m like, “My boy, doesn’t use a tonal at his house,” you know what I mean? But whatever. But I think we look at these men, and there’s a part of us, at least for me, that looks up to them because I know what it takes to be there. You look at guys like that, like the Tom Bradys and the LeBron James, or these athletes. And I think the reason why the Scriptures use that metaphor is ’cause it’s so much easier for us to see on the physical on the outside, what we wrestle with on the inside, and we look at these men and we know that that’s not easy, that there is sacrifices.
That’s what Paul is saying. He’s like, look at these athletes that are competing, they’re competing for a prize that’s gonna wither. Honestly, it’s a worthless prize. And if you look at the context, what Paul is actually talking about, he’s talking about his witness to other believers. If you go back in the passage of Scripture, He’s talking about not eating food that was sacrificed to idols, and us having to make certain sacrifices in our lifestyle so that we can be a witness for others, and he said, listen, it’s gonna take a sacrifice in your life, but we’re not doing it for no reason. We have an even greater purpose in our life that we do it. So he uses this metaphor, he says, look at those guys, look at the LeBron James, look at how dedicated those guys are for a worthless crown.
Self-control. The reality is it starts… Let me back up. The practice of self-control, I think it really starts in our minds. You cannot let your body control you, at some point, you have to control your body, and I think that starts here. I wanna read a passage of Scripture in James. I think this is a great place to start. James Chapter 3:2 talks about the tongue. It says,
“For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” – James 3:2
I remember when I first became a believer, before I was a Christian, I was 19 years old, I think that I just… Every word that came out of my mouth was foul. I used to talk to my mom and my grandma in foul language, and that just was normal in my culture. And I remember nobody had to tell me when I first came to Jesus that there was something wrong with the words that were coming out of my mouth. But I remember reading the Scriptures, and as I read the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit was convicting me, and something was telling me, “Man, things need to change here.”
And the reason why I love this passage of Scripture in James, when it comes to self-control. Listen what he says, he says, “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man able to bridle his whole body.” There’s something about men being able to control their tongues that it’s starting to teach them how to control their whole bodies. Did you get that? He goes on to talk about ships and horses and wild beasts, and he says there’s something about men being able to control their tongue, because it’s funny when you learn how to control here, you’re actually signaling to your brain to tell your body, no, no, no, that’s not how we do things. It’s that beginning process of bringing your body, your mind and who you are into subjection, to submit it to the Lord.
So simple question, currently in your life, how are you practicing self-control? Maybe it’s not the tongue, maybe there’s something else, but I just wanna ask you, how are you currently practicing self-control? Okay. Number two. Practice living on purpose. 1 Corinthians 9:26, it says, “I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air.” Are you currently living on purpose? I do not run aimlessly. I do not box as one beating the air, these athletes, they have a purpose and a reason why they’re doing what they do. So I wanna ask you a question, are you currently living on purpose?
2. Practice Living on Purpose.
We have so many men that are struggling looking for what is my purpose in life? I remember when I was in high school, I was a big football player, and I got all these letters, invited to all these camps and all this stuff, and I thought I was gonna be a Division 1 scholarship athlete, and I was really excited and I was known for that. It was actually my identity all growing up, pictures in the newspaper, I played in the All-Star game, all that kind of stuff, and there’s that little recruiting windows before YouTube and VHS tapes that you send out. I had some coaches come, but that recruiting window came and it passed. I didn’t get a scholarship. I was shocked.
You can imagine, actually, I was 17 years old, and I was crushed. I thought that was my whole life’s purpose. So you know what I did? When I lost my purpose, I did what most men do when they lose their purpose, I turned to pleasure. I started pursuing these temporary fixes that would try to satisfy me in the moment, sex, drugs, rock and roll, the party, all that stuff. Because we as men were created for a purpose. God is a God of intention, he created the world on purpose, he created you on purpose. He has a purpose for your life. We were created to live on purpose, and when men don’t have a purpose, they start to fill it with temporary pleasure, we see that all over our culture. So I know sometimes we get lost in the weeds of what is my purpose, right? So before we even get into that, Matthew 4:19, and he said to them,
” And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.'” – Matthew 4:19
So before you get lost in the weeds of your specific purpose that God has for you, I want you to be reminded Christian, if you’re in this room, that you have a purpose no matter what season of life you’re in, and that’s to follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men. So every man in every season, no matter where you are, if you are a follower of Jesus, you have a purpose, and that’s to follow God. In Romans, it says, “We’re to conform to the image of Christ.”
I heard somebody say this, I think it was John Mark Comer, but I just like it. He says, “Be like Jesus, become like Jesus, and do what Jesus did.” Men will say, “What’s my purpose?” Especially if you’re Christian, to be like Jesus, to become like Jesus and to do what Jesus did. And we fish for men. I was having a conversation with somebody this week talking about they’re in the public school system and they’re so excited to be there. And they were once a youth pastor, but God closed that door. Now they’re in this system and they get a lead FCA and they’re helping to share Jesus with people. And they were so excited because no matter where you are, you are called to fish for men.
When you lean in to your purpose, when you lean into the purpose of God, to become like Jesus and to fish for men, I promise you, you’ll find your specific purpose. But so many times we put that aside and we’re asking God, God, what’s my purpose? What’s my purpose? Lean in to following God and bringing other men to him, and you’ll find your purpose. So what’s your purpose right now in this season, in your job, in your church, in your community, in your family? Are you living on purpose?
All right. Number three, practice controlling your own body. Are you practicing controlling your own body? Verse 9:27. It says, “For I discipline my body and I keep it under control less after I preach to others, I myself should be disqualified.” We live in a world that’s controlled by cravings, emotions, appetites, it’s nothing new. Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of stew. And we look at that like an Old Testament passage. And I remember being brokenhearted when I heard about Ravi Zacharias. We got learn, we got practice controlling our own bodies. I said earlier that the Greek word discipline means to beat up his body.
3. Practice Controlling your own Body.
I came from a family of drugs and alcohol. I lost a brother to an overdose. My dad was an alcoholic. My parents were divorced. I came from brokenness. That was a result of men not knowing how to control their own body. And I knew for me, when I became a Christian that God was calling me to put away all drinking. Now, this is not like, hey, all guys should do this because when you’re walking with Jesus in an intimate way, the Holy Spirit is gonna say, “Hey, you should put that down.” And that might look different for you than other people.
And you might not be able to go to certain places or do certain things, and that feels uncomfortable. But that’s the Lord bringing you to himself. That’s self-mastery. He’s bringing you to himself. And so for me, I grew up in a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol. And I first came to Jesus and God right away said, “Nope, you need to put drinking away.” And it was so awkward, that was awkward for me to go to parties and my friends and they’re all drinking. And it’s so funny. It’s like they think you’re immature if you’re not getting drunk in our culture. I used to not come home for three or four days. I’d come home totally drunk or whatever. I got saved. I would go to church in Bible study every Tuesday night. And he came out yelling one day, you’re brainwashed and that’s a cult and da, da, da. And I thought, let’s just think about this for a second. I’d go to Bible study in church and I’m brainwashed, but you want me to come home drunk?
But right away, early on in my life, I knew that a part of following Jesus was, God was inviting me to learn how to control my own body. Paul says he beats his body up. Because the reality is, we know, as we’ve seen, and you’ve walked in churches, maybe if you’ve had to leave churches and transfer churches, I’ve been on staff at five churches. Three of the five have pastors that have fallen. I do not wanna end up like that. We do not wanna end up like that. I do not want my daughter and my son one day to look at me, I don’t want to disappoint them in that way. And I know I have to start practicing self-control now because our bodies are deceitful broken.
Is there something currently that you need to say no to? Is there something that you need to say yes to? When we left one of our churches, and it was one of those messy church situations, it was two weeks after and my wife wanted to stay home. And I told my wife, I said, “We’re going to church.” And she said, oh babe, da, da, da you know what? I said, we’re going to church. I said, we believe in the church and we believe in Jesus. The church has saved my life. Jesus has used the church to save my life. I go to the church and I serve in the church. And a part of it is, I know when I’m serving there, I’m not doing other things. My discipleship process and diving into the church and practicing and serving, that was keeping me, that was keeping my flesh down, it was occupying me, was giving me purpose and driving me. And I had to lean into that process to say no to other things. And I’m not ashamed of that. And I told my wife, we’re going to church ’cause I believe in the church. I need the church in my life. I cannot do this on my own. I need my brothers to call me out. I need to borrow their faith. Sometimes I need them to pick me up and carry me. I need to just sit around a fire with other dudes and talk about Jesus.
This is one kind of personal note, God has used this in my life. But if your appetites are really strong, try practicing the spiritual disciplines of like a mission, fasting, Sabbath, solitude. Start practicing these things that are teaching you how to say no to your body. It’s amazing when you fast and you realize, man, you can say no to so much more. It’s such a mind game. And it’s not just saying no, but then all of a sudden you invite Jesus into that process and it is like Jesus into the wilderness. You realize, man, I’m so much more satisfied in the things of God. But this is that invitation into that freedom that we’re talking about. Okay, I’m gonna keep rolling. Number four. Practice doing the right thing. 2 Timothy 2:5 says similar.
“An is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” – 2 Timothy 2:5
Man, we got practice integrity. We gotta practice integrity. I remember years ago I did the Dave Ramsey plan and we were so broke. They’re, oh, do the Dave Ramsey. We were so broke, we had to cut the… They’re like, save a $1000 or whatever. We’re on the $500 a month plan. And that plan took us a long time, you know what I mean? We got to that $500 and I was so excited. I was like, what’s up? We almost rich, like $75,000 of student loan debt. But I got my $500, let’s go.
4. Practice doing the Right Thing.
So to celebrate the $500, we decided we were gonna take a big trip to Big Lots. So we went across… We drove to Big Lots and it was across the street, around the corner, whatever. And I park in Big Lots and we go inside and we’re shopping and all of a sudden I hear, “Well, the owner of a Red Ford Focus, please come forward, owner of Red Ford Focus, please come forward.” And I was like, wait, we own a red Ford focus. I was like, so I go forward and I’m there and the lady goes, “Yeah, your car rolled into another car.” And I said, what? I go out the parking lot has a slight grade, like slight, can’t even see it. Slight grade. My car had rolled into this beautiful SUV Lexus. It’s just sitting right on the bumper. And I was like, how does that even happen? I drove. I can’t even blame my wife. I wanna blame her. I can’t blame her. So I go to the car. True story. I’m so mad at myself. I go, I open the car, the emergency break is pulled up.
Exactly. I was like, how does that even happen? Now. I didn’t have it in gear, my bad. I thought emergency break, I was out. I’m like, we’re good. The emergency break decided that it was not gonna engage. So I’m there. The Big Lots people simply pointed out and they go back into the store. It wasn’t the owner of the Lexus that came in to say somebody hit the car. It was just an employee that was pushing carts that said, “Hey, there’s red Ford Focus rolled into a car.” They go in and all of a sudden the parking lot is completely empty. There’s nobody there. And I’d be lying to you if I didn’t think, let me just get in this car right now and drive away. In fact, I backed the car up. There wasn’t a dent. It was like a lipstick, like a little paint. And I was like, I could just, I could scrub that off right now. We’ll be good. I was silent, there was a war. There was a war going on in my heart.
There was a war going on in my mind. This is nothing. When people hit my car before with scratches all the time, but they’re Lexus, they’re so rich. I mean, they got so much money, things just happen. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. And I just said, nope. And I snapped out of it and I said, I’m going to find whoever owns this car. And I went and I found the lady, and I would love to tell you that she came out and said, “Oh, it doesn’t matter.” But she came out and she was so mad, I can’t believe this happened. How did this happen? And I was like, are we looking at the same thing? She’s like, I need your insurance. And I was like, “Man, I’ll just pay for it.” ‘Cause I was like, surely it ain’t gonna cost that much. I exchanged information, she sent me a bill. It was like $1,500. I was like, I know that wasn’t $1,500. I know Lord. You know, and I know Lord, we know. I just saved my 500 Dave Ramsey gone.
I grew up on the West Coast and you hear this advertising all the time on TV. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. It’s not true. It’s not true. You know, what happened in that parking lot stayed in that parking lot ’cause I decided that I was gonna own it. ‘Cause I decided to go talk to the lady and I decided that God was big enough to take care of the situation. Wasn’t gonna let my flesh and my fear. I wasn’t gonna let my insecurities that I was having because I was poor and I wanted to provide for my wife. I wasn’t gonna let all of those emotions that we have as men force me to make a compromising decision in that moment. I knew what God was calling me to do and I had to wrestle and I had to fight. And there’s moments in your life that you need to practice integrity. You need to fight for your integrity in the little things because you are building the resilience for the big things. And in that moment, I knew I get to leave that parking lot and I was free. I get to pay that bill and I’m free. The Scriptures say, when you’re faithful with the little things, God bless you with the big things.
There’ll be moments in your life, there’re gonna be moments in your life where you’re gonna face with a choice. And can I just encourage you, God is calling you to live on purpose, to live with integrity. And no matter how hard it is, he is going to bless that decision. You might think that decision is small, but I promise you that decision is gonna be huge one day in your life, huge for your family, huge for your kids, huge for your church, huge for your community. See, God is calling us as meant to be disciplined, to be disciplined in our integrity. All right, five, I’m going quick and don’t worry, we’ll slide right into, that’ll be so good.
5. Practice not Giving Up.
All right. Hebrews 12: 1-2.
“Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was before him, for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2
The practice of not giving up. Practice man, not giving up. Can I encourage you to play the long game in your walk with Jesus? You read the story of Joseph. Joseph had to play the long game. You know, when you read that passage of Scripture, it’s so interesting because every time something terrible happened, what did the Scripture say? And the Lord was with Joseph. Every time, sold into slavery, the Lord was with Joseph, accused of adultery, the Lord is with Joseph. I’m like, if that’s what it looks like for the Lord to be with you, amen. I’m like, I’m questioning this right now.
When I was in LA, I worked in the film industry and you get to know these riders and it’s so interesting that these writers who are non-Christian, they understand the human story of redemption. And if you watch films, there’s these beats and all of these movies. And one of ’em that you’ll find in almost all movies is the all is lost moment, right? So you have this character that they build up. And somewhere in the movie, the all is lost moment is coming, the bottom drops out, it looks completely hopeless. It looks like there’s no path forward. And if you’re watching the movie, you can empathize and you’re almost broken heart, especially if you got attached to the character. People love the all is lost moment because they know redemption’s coming.
These writers, they write these movies and they have this moment where the character is gonna be redeemed, where something is gonna happen that’s gonna change everything. There’s gonna be times in your life that sometimes holding on is an act of worship. I’m gonna say that again. There’s gonna be times in your life where sometimes simply holding on is an act of worship. I remember working for a church, finding out that the pastor was living in sin, trying to call him out in a biblical, healthy, quiet way for him. And it went terrible. And I remember it was one of the hardest seasons in my life. People lying about you in rumors and all these things and just like man, I was depressed. It was dark, it was heavy. I was confused.
I was trying to do the right thing, God, how could this be happen to me Lord? I understand that passage in Philippians so much better when Paul says, “Some people preach Christ out selfish gain.” I was like, yes, I know now, didn’t make it any better though. I thought the income was gonna replace, the income wasn’t replaced. We were struggling. I had to use one of those delivery services just to… I had to work one of those delivery services just to provide groceries. I felt low.
And I remember God speaking to me in that moment, and I was just holding on. I was praying those small prayers. I was opening the Scriptures, reading a verse, closing my Bible. I was… That’s the season where I said, “No, honey, we are going to church.” I was barely holding on. And God’s like, you know what? Sometimes holding on is an act of worship. He knows. See, we have to practice not giving up. So many Christians, when something happens, when something tragic, when something difficult, when something sinful happens to us, we throw in the towel. But the promise of redemption is God will work all things together for good. The promise that he gives us in Scripture is what Satan intended for evil God will turn for good. But your story isn’t being finished written yet.
Imagine if in the all is lost moment, the movie just went boop and the credits came up, we’d be like, “Wait, wait, wait, wait, it’s not done.” And so many men give up in the moments where it’s all is lost moment and it’s like, “Hey, hey, hey, God’s not done yet, God’s not finished yet, that might be a chapter in your story that is not the whole story.” And you know what’s so beautiful about that chapter in your life is that one day, God is gonna use that chapter, not only to redeem your life, but to redeem so many men that are struggling just like you, who think God has forgot them, who has left them and that there’s no more purpose. What is that passage? He restores the years the locusts have eaten, man. Can I encourage you to practice not giving up because your story is not being finished yet. God is not finished yet. If you have committed your life to Jesus, no matter where you are. Yes, just like Joseph, the Lord is with you. Alright, man. I’ll keep going.
6. Practice Pursuit not Perfection
Alright, number six. Practice pursuit not perfection. Practice pursuit over perfection. Philippians chapter 3, I’m gonna read 12-16. All these are the athletic metaphors. Not that I’ve already obtained this or I’m already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because of Christ Jesus has made me his own.
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” – Philippians 3:12-16
Part of this… Part of this, it’s not about perfection, it’s about pursuing Jesus. And sometimes as a believer, the discipline it takes to let go of your mistakes, to let go of the past, the past is meant to be a moment, not a destination. When we struggle, when we fall into sin, when we make mistakes because we’re not perfect, anybody here perfect?
Yep. We’re not meant to stay there, right? You are forgiven. Just a reminder. You confess your sins, He’ll forgive you. If you came in here today and you’re struggling with something, listen, there’s already forgiveness. If you confess your sins, He’ll forgive you. Don’t be stuck there. The word press on in Greek is this… I can’t say it. Us pastors is like, we gotta read some words, it’s like man, I barely graduated. But I thought it was interesting, you know the word press on you know what it means? In Greek, it means to pursue.
Read that passage, “I press on towards the goal for the prize. The upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” I pursue. We pursue the things that we love, we have to be disciplined in our pursuit of Jesus, we have to be disciplined in our pursuit, not letting the mistakes of the past, sometimes spiritual maturity looks like getting up quickly, the… I just wanna be real honest. The older that I get, and I’m saying this, not from a level of perfection myself, but the older that I get, the more I realize that it’s how quickly I get back up.
It’s not that I don’t. I never fall, it’s not that I never make mistakes, man, it’s that I’m no longer in that cycle of when I make a mistake and it just snowballs and I’m way over here, I now I’m getting back up and I pursue Jesus. Press on means to pursue, let’s just get super real. It means making that phone call to your brother in Christ, it means opening up your Bible, it means going back to church, it means feeling like a hypocrite in the moment, ’cause you’re like, your brain is telling you, “You’re not this person, you’re not this person. Look at all the stuff you did,” and ignoring that because you’re pursuing Jesus, because you have faith over your feelings, because you’re looking in the Scriptures and you’re saying, “This is what the Bible says even though my own feelings are telling me otherwise.”
7. Practice being Faithful Today.
Okay, last one. Practice being faithful today. 2 Timothy 4:7, this one, this is really… I don’t know what I wanna say. I don’t wanna say revolutionize my life, that sounds like whatever. This has made a huge impact in my life. Practice being faithful today. 2 Timothy 4:7, he says,
“I have fought the fight, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4:7
What does it look like for you to keep the faith just today? What does it look like for you just to keep the faith today, not tomorrow, not five years from now, ten years. What does it look like for you just to keep the faith today? There’s this, I don’t know if it’s an equation that I tell myself in my mind and I say I wanna be faithful, I wanna be this man, I wanna be this man one day with my family with my wife, I am changing a generation with my family. I’m not gonna be what I came from, in Jesus name. And it takes me being faithful. But you know what that looks like. Faith plus faith plus faith plus faith equals faithfulness. Does that make sense? What does it look like for you just to be faithful today? I didn’t get that check, I didn’t get that job. Just be faithful today. Man, the economy looks really bad, just be faithful today. Well, this person said this thing at church, just be faithful today.
Through positive, negative, highs, lows, emotional, up, down. What does it look like for you to practice being faithful today? What does it look like to you to rejoice in all situations today when the situations are awesome, when you go back from Men’s Conference and you’re fired up because man, you were surrounded by men and touched Jesus, and weeks from now, where you feel like maybe there’s some distance from the Lord, what does it look like in those moments just to have faith for today, because I promise you, when you practice having faith just today, you’re gonna look back in your life and you’re gonna be able to say, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
This is a practice that we can have, that’s what sanctification looks like. In all situations. In all circumstances, God is just asking you, just have faith today. Just have faith today. Alright. Practice self control. What does it look like? What is one thing in your life right now that you need to practice? Self control. Practice living on purpose. Maybe you’re like, “Man, I don’t know my big purpose,” you can lean into the simple purpose of Jesus to be like him, to share him with others. Practice controlling your own body. Practice doing the right thing. Maybe there’s something when I talk you’re like, “Okay, I got you.” Practice not giving up. If you’re here today, if you were here before this conference and you feel like giving up and you came. That’s awesome. That’s what it looks like to practice not giving up, practice pursue over perfection, don’t let the mistakes and your sin keep you down simply, hey, pursue Jesus. Practice being faithful just today. Listen, what would it look like? What would it look like for us as men, as…
Imagine going back to our churches, there is a generation of men that are searching for discipline and structure. They just don’t think the church is a place. Right? They view the church as hypocrites and all that kind of stuff, whatever. All places are hypocritical. Right, but what does it look like for us as men, if we were to decide that we are gonna be disciplined in our pursuit of Jesus, it’ll change your life, it’ll change your family.
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