Monday, September 23, 2013

Seeing the Work of God: A Men's Retreat Testimony

I used to think that the caricature of an angel being on your left shoulder and a devil on your right was absolutely ridiculous. Of course, they were mostly shown in comic strips or fictitious comedies. Did you ever wonder how someone dreamt that up, and whether they saw any truth in it? Well, as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that there is indeed spiritual contest for our thoughts and attention. Instead of being some tiny cartoon devil on my shoulder, it’s a serious enemy that can be very persuasive and can inflict much damage. And there is much at stake -- you.

Several years ago I was reintroduced to a Biblical message that opened my eyes to what was going on spiritually with me. It made me realize that Satan had really been doing a number on me. All my life I wished I was made differently than the way God had made me. For example, I always wished I was better at team sports; instead of being quick, aware, and aggressive, I was cautious, my mind wandered, and I didn’t have that drive to get in there and win. I was more analytical about the world around me, I enjoyed building relationships with people, and I really didn’t care about winning so much. That doesn’t sound so bad, when I think about it now, but back then, I felt like an oddball. It didn’t stop there.
As an adult, I questioned why God made me such sensitive person. Why was I so up and down instead of being more even-keeled, or better yet, care free. I was buying into the discouraging thoughts that I internalized, like “you’re weird”, “you’re not manly”, or quite simply “you’re a disappointment.”

I subscribed to these discouraging thoughts and decided I didn’t like who I was. I didn’t like who God made me to be. These feelings were more subconscious than conscious, but they left a gloomy cloud lingering over me and that brought discouragement that affected me and my family.

It wasn’t until I sought counseling with Michael Thompson (this year’s retreat speaker) that I admitted these thoughts and that I realized the damage they were doing to me and those around me. With his help, I came around and embraced all those good things that make me who I am. And I like those things -- I really do.

It was at the Apostles Men’s Retreat that year that I went to God about it. Alone with Him, I confessed how I had been buying into those lies for so long. I admitted that I had not trusted His craftsmanship in making me and I had not been seeking Him. I turned from those discouraging thoughts – I repented of them. And I’m so thankful I did.

We all have some incredible stories that have shaped us – for better and for worse. I am glad now that I can face things that once haunted me and hold them up to God’s truth that we’re all fearfully and wonderfully made. And each of us has our own role to play in His Larger Story.

I hope you’ll come out to the Apostles Men’s Retreat Oct 25-27th. My friend Michael Thompson will be giving a message of hope, strength, and life. You’ll hear testimonies from guys you know. Come show up – God certainly will!

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