UNLEASHED Vol. 10 – Rescue

Rescue: to save (someone or something) from danger or harm. To free from confinement, danger, or evil.  To take (as a prisoner) forcibly from custody.  To recover (as a prize) by force.  To deliver (as a place under siege) by armed force. (Merriam Webster Dictionary).

Think about yourself, and think about what Christ did for you.  Can you see Christ ALL OVER these definitions of rescue?   There are some powerful words here to describe what God has done for us, and what we need to do for others as well.  It pumps me up thinking about what he has done for me!  He is our Savior, we were prisoners and He has freed us, He has recovered us and we are His prize, and He has forcibly pulled us from the grips of the enemy to deliver us!  We can’t do life on our own, we need Him!

  1. Rescue; such an interesting thing.  We often try hard to act like we don’t need rescue, like we have it all together and have all the answers (pride, wearing masks/posing), yet our entire existence is centered on the fact that we have already been rescued whether we like it or not; as believers we live in the grace of His rescue.  Jesus has claimed victory and won the war!  I think the goal is to embrace His rescue and live with gratitude because of it.  We don’t deserve it, but he does it because He loves us!  We then need to rescue others by loving unconditionally as well.
    1. We all need rescue and have been rescued by God (each member of the trinity has a part)
      1. God – Our Heavenly Father countlessly rescued man in the Old Testament. There is story after story of the Israelites straying away from God, then in their greatest moment of need calling on God to save them, and He did time after time.  He is constantly loving, rescuing, and forgiving always.
        1. Nehemiah 9:28 “But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight. Then you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven, and in your compassion you delivered them time after time.”
        2. Galatians 1:3-5 “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,  who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,  to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
      2. Jesus – He rescued us by sacrificing Himself for us!  He is our Savior, our Redeemer!
        1. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
        2. Romans 7:23-25 “but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
      3. The Holy Spirit – Rescues us through speaking to us, guiding us, empowering us, and encouraging us.
        1. John 14:26 “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
        2. Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
        3. Acts 9:31 “Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.”
        4. Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
    2. We need to be rescuers for others
      1. In the spiritual sense this is a newer concept for me.  Since I was a kid I think I’ve always related with that manly vision of rescue; like being a police officer or fire fighter, the adrenaline hero who saves the day, or the tough warrior ready for battle.  But as I have worked through my brokenness and my gratitude for Christ, I have been hearing God calling me to rescue others; to either share the gospel, or to lead by example and let my actions point to God.  I have only been aware of this over the last few years and only very recently gotten any real traction with it.  Up to a few years ago, I was still deep in my selfish flesh, thinking I was “doing good enough” but really living for myself and barely being able to rescue much of anything.
      2. I believe that since we are made in His image and as believes we are called to work on our righteousness and to be “Christ-like” that we need to identify with the character of Christ.  He rescues and sacrifices, so should we.
        1. Philippians 2:1-4“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
      3. I believe this means we need to join Him in rescuing and sacrificing for others.  As men, God has built us for work.  He has designed us to have strength, both physical and mental.  It takes a lot of mental discipline and strength to put others first and carry out the double love command.  I think we are to use our strength not just for personal motives (occupation, self-driven tasks), but to sacrifice our strength for those who need it.
        1. 2 Timothy 2:1-4 “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.  Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.”
      4. We need to let the gratitude we have for His love and what He has done for us motivate us to do the same for others.  To be a light, to bear fruit, to sacrifice and rescue with a glad heart.  To do it not because it’s easy, or fun, but because it’s what is right and will delight God’s heart and bring glory to His name.  Though hopefully it can be a fun process too.  I do think sometimes it can also be the Hollywood excitement of “a knight in shining armor” that we all see ourselves in, but more realistically it’s going to be a purposeful humble sacrifice that rescues others.
        1. Colossians 1:10-14 “so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
        2. James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
          1. Wow, there is no missing the point here.
          2. My wife and I just took in three foster kids about a month ago, so this is a very fresh topic for me right now.  It has been a long journey getting to this point.  It was probably about three years ago when my wife said that she was really beginning to feel the tug on her heart strings to adopt, we had two of our own boys at the time (age 2 and 1).  She said ever since she was a kid she had always dreamed of adopting and having lots of kids, but that feeling had kind of gone away for a long time.  Now it was back and she felt God calling her to rescue and adopt.  My first response was very rooted in my flesh and was a firm “NO WAY!”  I didn’t even consider it; it immediately sent terror running through my veins.  It would be too hard, it would ruin our “perfect” life, it would be inconvenient, and we don’t have enough resources (time, money, energy).  Over the next few months God started pursuing me in my quiet time, I found myself praying about it, and Rachel occasionally mentioned it here and there.  I was not even close to considering adoption at this point, still in my flesh believing the lie that it would be too hard. We had decided for our family vision that we were done having kids; the second pregnancy had been really brutal on Rachel.  So about two and a half years ago, I got a vasectomy.  At that time God reignited the call in Rachel’s heart and flipped the switch, she was passionate about adoption now more than ever.  In my prayer time I began hearing God telling me we weren’t done with kids.  That scared me to death.  So I listened to Rachel’s heart and listened to God, still with my flesh trying to flex its muscles and resist.  I knew this was getting too big for me to handle on my own anymore, so I just began surrendering the issue to God, completely opening up and admitting I didn’t have the answer or know what to do.  I’d just pray, “God, you call us to love You and to love others.  What does that look like for us?  What do You have in store for us?  How do You want to use us?  We are willing to listen and be used by You.  Give us guidance, give us peace, give us Your vision, Your will.”  It took about another year of praying specifically for that before I was willing to really listen to what He was telling me.  I began to hear from God, “I’ve called you to love others, why wouldn’t you help someone who needs help.  Haven’t I done that for you?  Look at the life I’ve given you, why wouldn’t you share that with someone who needs support?  There is nothing stopping you from being used but yourself.  Be a light to the world.  Trust me, have faith, I will guide you through.”  Well once I began hearing that, I couldn’t be ignorant anymore.  No matter how many arguments the enemy tried to get me to believe, I knew I was hearing from God and I knew I had to obey no matter what, even though I didn’t have all the answers, I couldn’t see how it would work and it seemed way out of my comfort zone.  So I started talking about it with Rachel and we began taking classes to get our adoption license about a year and a half ago.  We felt God calling us to do a domestic adoption here in Michigan.  As we started classes, we found that adoption also happens through the foster care system.  Most of the classes work towards licensing for both adoption and foster care, so we got licensing for both.  We received our adoption and foster care licenses just before Christmas 2014.  But God wasn’t done with us yet.  We learned that adopting was probably going to take a long time, possibly years.  Our case worker asked if we would do foster care or respite care (giving a foster home a break for the weekend).  We were both kind of like, well not really…  So we both started praying and surrendering.  Quickly God told us to help.  So a few months ago we reluctantly decided to help with respite care for three kids.  They came to our house for the weekend.  It was AMAZING!  At first they were shy and quiet and scared.  But by the end of the weekend we had really, truly began bonding with them and just saw how good God can be.  We literally cried when we had to send them back to their regular foster home.  Then just before Unveiled in late April we got a call for an emergency placement of three other foster kids.  We knew God was calling us to help people, so was agreed.  We arranged for them to come to us two days after Unveiled.  We’ve had them a little over a month now.  It has been a challenge!  The first few days were very hard; it was true sacrifice to follow God’s call to rescue.  But God is so good, within a short time, just two and a half weeks, we are settling into a good routine and a lot of the early issues we were having are dissolving away.  I can see how God is using my willingness to obey and be used to bring Glory to Himself.  I can see these kids responding to our unconditional love (trust me, not always easy to do, but we do it) and loving us back.  I know we have a long way to go still, but I can see and feel God’s hand in the whole thing.  We are still waiting to adopt some day, God willing, but in the meantime, we are just trying our best to listen to God and follow wherever He leads us.  I can tell you this, if it were up to me, we would not have done this.  But seeing what God is doing within me, through me, and around me is nothing short of incredible.  I am so thankful God spoke clearly to me and I was courageous enough to obey.
        3. Rescue looks like anything counter-culture, anything that doesn’t scream “have life your way” “it’s all about you, your goals, your agenda, and your comfort.”
        4. A few things I can think of would be: any giving of your resources (time, money, and energy), volunteering, serving, counseling, mentoring, adopting, foster care, missionary work, loving our wives and family unconditionally, putting your wife first regardless of her response and with no expectations or strings attached, loving your wife how she feels love / not how you feel love, listening to your wife and not always jumping into solution mode, being there for your brothers, speaking truth to your brothers even when it’s hard and scary, supporting and building one another up, etc…  Those are all forms of rescue.
        5. That rescue/sacrifice can look different for each of us and can change over time.  At different points in life we may sacrifice more or less depending on where we are at with God, but I would wager we will feel it and it will often seem like more than we can handle; thus forcing us to rely fully on Him for direction and strength.  It is only by Him and through Him that we can truly be used for His purposes.  In order to truly be able to listen and be used by God to rescue, we must submit and surrender to God.  We have to leave it all (our agenda, our will, our desires) at the foot of the cross and be willing to do what He asks no matter what.
          1. This quote from Oswald Chambers really sums it up nicely, “It is easier to serve or work for God without a vision and without a call, because then you are not bothered by what He requires.  Common sense, covered with a layer of Christian emotion, becomes your guide.  You may be more prosperous and successful from the world’s perspective, and will have more leisure time, if you never acknowledge the call of God.  But once you receive a commission from Jesus Christ, the memory of what God asks of you will always be there to prod you on to do His will.  You will no longer be able to work for Him on the basis of common sense… If I have not been seized by Jesus Christ and have not surrendered myself to Him, I will consider the time I decide to give to God and my own ideas of service as dear… Our ordinary and reasonable service to God may actually compete against out total surrender to Him.  Our reasonable work is based on the following argument which we say to ourselves, ‘Remember how useful you are here, and think how much value you would be in that particular type of work.’  That attitude chooses our own judgment, instead of Jesus Christ, to be used the most.”
          2. Romans 7:4-6 “So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.  For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death.  But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”
      5. We need to remember, and this is essential; we have a purpose, A MISSION!  We are working for the greater reward.  We are meant to be a light in the darkness; to be selfless, to sacrifice, to rescue and to bring glory to God.  We are working to hear “Well done my son” when we get to heaven.  There is a reason for our rescue and sacrifice.
        1. Matthew 25:23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
        2. Matthew 25:34-36 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
      6. There are several stories of men stepping up and rescuing in the Bible. (Just a few here)
        1. Moses in Exodus 2:16-18 rescuing the daughters of Midian.
        2. Men being there for each other, supporting, encouraging, and rescuing each other.  Peter in Acts chapter 9, Psalm 82:2-4, Proverbs 11:8, and Proverbs 12:6,              1 Chronicles 19:11-13.
        3. Boaz providing for and eventually protecting Ruth and Naomi.
        4. Jonah.  Oh, how I can relate to Jonah!!!  God clearly speaking His will and telling Jonah to go “rescue” Nineveh.  Jonah didn’t want to go; it seemed too hard, inconvenient, no fun, and scary.  Yet after a lot of mistakes and eventual surrender, God lead Jonah there and used him in a mighty way!
          1. We can see Jonah’s selfish flesh and passivity.
          2. But after a breakthrough with God, Jonah surrenders to God’s will and eventually does what he was asked to do.
          3. God used Jonah in a huge way for rescuing a people for the Kingdom.
  2. Obstacles to Rescue: The enemy
    1. Satan’s lies
      1. Satan is constantly trying to get us to buy into his lies.  He will use any angle he can to stop you, ensnare you, distract you, and enslave you.  He hates God, he hates you, and he hates your family.  He wants you to live for yourself and not to sacrifice or rescue anyone.
      2. He will try and sell you on lies like, “You don’t have what it takes!” “You’re not good enough.” “No one needs you, what do you have to offer?” “Just sit and be quiet, no one wants to hear from you.” “You’ll make a fool of yourself.” “Someone else will take care of it, just sit, don’t move, and don’t take a risk.” “Protect yourself.” “Don’t trust anyone.” Or on the other hand he will use subtle lies to keep you where you are, “You already do enough.” “Someone else will do it, someone better.” “God isn’t really calling you to do this.” “It’s someone else’s problem, you don’t want to get involved in something messy.”
      3. He uses fear, doubt, and anxiety to wrap chains around our hearts and hold us back.  Satan will try and use logic and reason to get us to justify ourselves to stay put.  He lies in order to feed into our original sin of passivity.  If you are hearing lies having to do with self-protection, fear of something other than God, or not listening to God’s will, I guarantee that is the enemy holding you back from a breakthrough with God.
    2. The World
      1. I think it can be easy to forget our mission in the busyness of life in our culture.  That’s where the world tries to distract us just enough to keep our eyes out of focus of God and God’s will and just enough focus on our agenda and our will…  After all, it’s all about me right???  If I’m only thinking about myself and what I can do, I will always underestimate the power of what God can do, thus I’m not listening to God and His will.
      2. There are so many “carrots” being dangled in front of our faces that try to pull our attention away from God’s will for us.  There are so many products, comforts, and sensations the world tries to offer us as substitute gods to blind us from true life with God.  The world is constantly trying to get us to accept false idols and to go to those idols for life instead of finding life in our relationship with God.
    3. The Flesh
      1. Always has “self-protection” as a number one priority.  The flesh does not like change.  The flesh does not like to be pushed, or challenged, or told it is wrong.
      2. Uncontrolled, the flesh will always prompt you to run and hide in passivity whenever things don’t go your way.  Or it will bully and bulldoze to scare off anyone or anything opposing it.  It will rise up anger within you when you are convicted.  It will push you to fight or flight when you know you’re wrong in order to try and save face.  It will create excuses after excuse; it will blame others for what it is doing.  It will always be looking outwards to analyze and critique others but never reflect on itself.  It will cause you to hate truth and ignore wise counsel.
        1. Romans 7:5 “For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death.”
      3. We all have it, we all feel it.  It comes down to our mental discipline and mental strength in God as to how well we battle to keep it in its place; which is  to keep it muted in surrender to the Almighty God!
    4. When we get wrapped up with the enemy we are in no place to rescue, in fact that’s when we need rescuing ourselves!!!  The enemy is going to use lies, distractions, and self-protection to get us to believe it’s better to stay where we are, where “it’s safe” (yeah right!) and that staying put is a better option than following God’s will and allowing ourselves to be used by Him to rescue others.
  3. The solution?  Battle well!  Cling to your links of support!  I think there is an interested relationship between being rescued and being able to rescue here.  We are rescued by God and empowered to rescue by God.  Think we can be used to rescue our wives and brothers and can be rescued by our wives and brothers (Wow, does that sound familiar?  Authentic fellowship anyone???  That’s why God calls us into community and not to be alone).
    1. Link #1 God: surrender to Him and be willing to listen and obey.
      1. We need to be in constant prayer and communication with Him!
        1. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always,  pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
      2. God is constantly pursuing us; He is always working to move us forward in our walk with Him.  He is often going to ask us to love/rescue/sacrifice in ways that seem impossible to us, ways that are out of our comfort zones, and to do things we are not necessarily going to want to do.  To love/rescue others requires a deep connection with Jesus.  We need to make sure we are building in quiet time often with Him so we can connect and really listen; we have to make ourselves available to Him.  If we don’t give Him quiet time to be still and listen, we will be lost and unaware of His plans for us.
      3. We need to be constantly asking God what He wants us to do and where He wants us to go, and then be willing to obey no matter what.  To ultimately sacrifice ourselves to God so he can use us to rescue others.
        1. “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby; this book changed my life.  I went through it as I lead a small group.  It was amazing to learn the truth described in this book.  It basically helps you understand how to listen to God and obey God.  I would recommend this book to every believer! A big part of why I am writing this right now is because of this book.  It talks about the seven realities of experiencing God: God’s Work, Relationship, Invitation, God Speaks, Crisis of belief, Adjust, Obey and Experience.  It also talks about how God speaks to us: through prayer, through the Word of God, through the people of God (the church) and through circumstances.
          1. I can definitely relate to all seven ways of experiencing God thought he foster care adoption saga.  God shared His work with me, what He wanted to accomplish.  We have a relationship; I give myself quiet time with Him daily (or most days).  He personally invited me to come along with Him on His vision and plan.  He spoke to me through prayer, through scripture, and through my wife.  I TOTALLY felt the crisis of faith involved with actually surrendering and accepting that we were actually going to do this thing and adopt/foster care, and again once we had three kids in our house and it was a rough start!!!  We adjusted our lives to take in three kids in need.  We have completed the journey as we fully obeyed His will and are currently experiencing Him throughout the whole situation.  It has been so hard, but so rewarding to begin foster care!  It is totally of God, I can see Him and all the blessings He is giving us through this!
          2. I can also identify where I heard from God about the same topic in many ways.  He clearly spoke to me through prayer, repeatedly, in a mighty way.  He spoke to me through scripture.  He spoke to me through Rachel and through some sermons at church.  Finally He spoke to me through all the circumstances of our family vision, closing doors, opening others…
          3. This is a HUGE reason why I’m working for the 3:18 Men of Freedom.  I had been hearing God telling me to get involved in some kind of men’s ministry for several years.  At that time, I didn’t know it was His voice for sure.  The enemy was having a hay day getting me to believe lies that held me back, but Jesus crushed them!  After going through Experiencing God, there was no doubt; I had been hearing from God for a very long time and had been choosing to debate with Him.  Once my eyes were opened, I knew I couldn’t be ignorant anymore.  I had to obey.  It was scary; it seemed impossible, and I did not feel qualified (I still battle this all the time).  Once I accepted the call, God opened door after door; it’s been nothing short of amazing to see where God has taken me personally and how He is using me.  I never thought in a million years I would be doing today what I am doing.  It seems so surreal; but I know it’s Him, I’ve heard Him, and it is nothing I would have chosen on my own, that’s for sure!  But it has been so rewarding to surrender and obey.
    2. Link #2 Wife: she needs our strength and she can offer support.
      1. Rescuing our wife, we can do this in big ways and little ways.
        1. In John Eldredge’s book “Wild at Heart” he talks about how we are wired for a battle to fight, a beauty to rescue, and an adventure to live.  God naturally designed us with the fire and passion of a warrior to come in as a “knight in shining armor” to save the beautiful maiden from the villain.  But do you really view your marriage that way?  Don’t get stuck in a rut, don’t go passive.  Here are a few key excerpts from Ch. 10 A Beauty To Rescue.
          1. Page 183 “From ancient fables to the latest blockbuster, the theme of a strong man coming to rescue a beautiful woman is universal to human nature.  It is written in our hearts, one of the core desires of every man and every woman.”
            1. We need to always remember she needs us to constantly pursue her and protect her and rescue her, she has the same enemy we have who never sleeps and who is “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” John 10:10.
          2. Page 184 “Eve is the crown of creation, remember?  She embodies the exquisite beauty and the exotic mystery of God in a way that nothing else in all creation even comes close to.  And so she is the special target of the Evil One; he turns his most vicious malice against her.  If he can destroy her or keep her captive, he can ruin the story.”
          3. Page 184 “The deep cry of a little girl’s heart is am I lovely?  Every woman needs to know that she is exquisite and exotic and chosen.  This is core to her identity, the way she bears the image of God.  Will you pursue me?  Do you delight in me?  Will you fight for me?  And like every little boy, she has taken a wound as well.  The wound strikes right at the core of her heart of beauty and leaves a devastating message with it: No.  You’re not beautiful and no one will really fight for you.”
          4. Page 186 “When a woman never hears she’s worth fighting for, she comes to believe that’s the sort of treatment she deserves.”
          5. Page 186 “a hesitant man is the last thing in the world a woman needs.  She needs a lover and a warrior, not a Really Nice Guy.”
          6. Page 186 “The number one problem between men and their women is that we men, when asked to truly fight for her… hesitate.  We are still seeking to save ourselves; we have forgotten the deep pleasure of spilling our life for another.”
          7. Page 188 “If the man refuses to offer himself, then his wife will remain empty and barren.  A violent man destroys with his words; a silent man starves his wife.”
          8. Page 188 “What makes Maximus or William Wallace so heroic is simply this: they are willing to die to set others free.”
            1. To me, that shows the sacrifice to rescue.  It gets my blood boiling.  It makes me want to go swinging at Satan and protect me wife!
            2. Notice too, how all this is about rescuing her for who she is?  There are no conditions to the rescue, no prerequisites, no fine print.  We are loving/rescuing her for who she is right now, no exceptions, and no excuses.  We can’t rescue her if we are aligning ourselves with the enemy by critiquing her or putting restrictions on our love/rescue, “I’ll rescue you, when you…” Rescue is selfless, if we are resentful or holding back; we are not being Christ to her.  Our rescue of her need to be unconditional and undeserved just like Christ’s rescue is for us.
        2. We need to help her answer some of her core needs/questions/desires.  She is wired to internally ask herself: “Am I lovely?” “Am I worth fighting for?” “Am I noticed and valued?”  Now obviously, she needs to be getting these questions answered by Jesus, but we can come along and help in His rescue of her.
        3. Be a student of your wife.  Really watch and listen.  Be a listener!  Women are relational in their communication style; very opposite of us, we communicate to problem solve.  I know this is soooooooo hard, but don’t immediately go to solution mode!!!  We heard her first few sentences and have already brainstormed five solutions, but often that’s not what she wants/needs.  We want to talk, fix, and move on (preferably as fast as possible).  But it’s not about us.  We can rescue her by allowing her time to talk and to just listen, without interrupting, without giving solutions to her problem, but just listen and relate with positive feedback like, “You know what, that does sound awful!”  Ask questions.  Share your heart with her.  She will light up!  Instead of giving her solutions, ask her what she thinks she needs to do next etc…
        4. Put her first.  Just as Christ has put us first.  Find ways to sacrifice for her.  Do it without strings attached.  Do it regardless of her response or if she notices or not.  Give it time, you’ll see.  .  In Emerson Eggerich’s book “Love and Respect” he talks about the crazy cycle and the energizing cycle.  Men want/need respect and women want/need to feel loved.  For the sake of argument, let’s say the man acts unloving first, her natural response in her flesh is to react disrespectfully, which make the man act more unloving, and the crazy cycle goes around and around. There can be a lot of damage caused here.  The solution is to put the other person first and avoid the crazy cycle.  She acts disrespectfully, love her well, put her first and do not react in unloving ways.  It may take a while; you have to continue doing this regardless of her response.  But over time the energizing cycle motivates each of you to build into each other in loving and respectful ways.
        5. Love her well.  Gary Chapman’s book, “The Five Love Languages” is a great read for you and her.  There are five love languages: quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, gifts, and acts of service.  Again, be a student of her.  Talk to her about it, get to know her love language and love her in that way, this is very often a sacrificial act that rescues her.  Love her how she wants/needs to be loved, not how you feel love.  Quite often, our love language is different than our wife’s.
          1. It took me a few years of marriage to realize her love language wasn’t physical touch.  What???  I was shocked!!!  Mine was physical touch, and that was one of the only ways I knew how to show love.  Once we read this book, I was able to think of her first and love her in ways she truly felt.  Powerful stuff here guys, if you haven’t, read the book, I would especially encourage you to read it with her, so the two of you can have some heart conversations.  You will be blessed by it.
        6. There are four basic things we in the 3:18 Men of Freedom leadership team have come up with to help support and rescue your wife.
          1. ONE – Remind her DAILY that she is a princess/daughter of Jesus, the King of Kings!  She needs to remember that he LOVES her so much, as a Father, as a Daddy, and He desires an intimate relationship with her.  The enemy will try everything in his power to make her forget this; you must battle for her through this one simple thing EVERY DAY!
            1. I usually do it in a text or e-mail every day.
          2. TWO – Pursue her!  Don’t let the business of life stop you from this!  Make time to date, COMMUNICATE, do things that will make her feel special and show her that you are thinking about her.  Share your heart with her.  Do you know her story?  Step into her story; let her talk about her story.  Knowing her is huge!
            1. Over time, Rachel and I have shared our stories.  It can be scary and hard to be authentic, but I can tell you, if your hearts are with God and for each other, it will draw you closer together.
            2. I struggle with pursuing her well.  We date, and it’s fun; we do well together.  But often she is the one who plans/organizes dates.  I know I need to do better at loving her well and showing her my pursuit by planning more dates.
          3. THREE – Give her time.  Build in regular time weekly for her to have with Jesus, quiet time, alone time, peaceful time.  Allow her time to journal, encourage her to journal.  She NEEDS this time to stay close to God.  Even if she doesn’t want it or says she doesn’t need it, encourage her to do it, you’ll never regret it!
            1. Every morning Rachel does her devotions while eating breakfast.  I help her with this by often cooking her breakfast and packing lunches so she can have the time.
            2. We now have five kids, so a practical thing we do is to allow her quiet time on her own before going grocery shopping.  She will leave an hour or two early so she can go get tea somewhere and have quiet time with God to journal and read.
            3. She will often tell me she “doesn’t need it this week.”  And there are a few weeks where I can’t force her to go, but I will fight for her and really encourage her to go!  Most of the time she listens to me…
          4. FOUR – Have a common adventure!  TOGETHER, create an adventure you can both enjoy!  NEED HER TO BE A PART OF THIS!  Don’t just bulldoze your agenda, don’t let it be only your idea, develop it together.  NEED her to have an intricate role in your collective adventure, your collective story.
            1. We bought a camper last spring and have begun doing family camping trips several times a summer.  Last summer we had a blast and I am looking forward to this summer!
            2. We are now on the adoption and foster care adventure!  So far it has been hard but amazing!  It is bringing us closer together and helping us appreciate what Jesus has done for us so much!
      2. Being rescued by our wife
        1. We have to be authentic with her, take off the mask, quit posing, and allow her to see your true heart.  She can’t rescue you if she doesn’t “know” you.  The more open and honest you are with her, the more of an essential role you are allowing her to have, a role she desperately wants.  When we are posing and wearing masks we are shutting down our hearts and putting out the image of a man who needs nothing and has everything, that crushes her heart because it answers her core questions with “No.”  God has built her to love, nurture, and support.  In Emerson Eggerich’s book “Love and Respect” he talks about how our wives are designed to support and to be a ‘Cheerleads” for us.  That when we love her well and put her first, she will come along as a mate to help and support, to rescue us.  When her core questions are being answered with “Yes!” she will come alive and respect us; to be there as support, as a cheerleader, and when we need it, to rescue us.  She will want to give of herself for us and sacrifice for us.
        2. She is more than capable of rescuing us if we let her. She can be strong is circumstance when we cannot.  She can step in and love in ways we cannot.  She understands our heart and can speak to us in a way no one else can.  She can often see things from a different point of view and rescue me from myself.
          1. Rachel rescues me all the time!!!  When my patience is running thin (mainly in parenting) she often can sense it and inserts herself into the situation to help ease the strain on me and help me avoid totally giving into my flesh.  Earlier in our marriage, I probably would have been “too manly” to accept her help and may have even been resentful about it.  Now however, I am so grateful for her love and rescue when I need it (even when I don’t know I need it).  Her rescue makes me feel supported and loved, and I love her more because of it.  It makes me feel like I’m worth something when she is willing to rescue and help; it makes me a better man, it strengthens me.
        3. When she is in a righteous walk with God, she can come along with Him to rescue us.  We should be getting our core questions answered by God in our quiet time with Him, but He can use her to help rescue us too.  She can help give affirmation to our core questions, “Do I have what it takes?” “Am I strong?” “Am I wanted, valued, needed?” “Am I a man?”
        4. When those questions are being answered “Yes!” it opens us up to a whole new world where we can follow God together.  My wife has certainly helped God move me in big ways over the years, ways I would have probably never gone on my own.  Ways that have been so hard but so rewarding!
    3. Link #3 Brothers: we need each other’s strength and wisdom.
      1. Rescuing our brothers and being rescued by our brothers.  These are one in the same…
        1. It takes guts!  It isn’t easy, but very worth it.
        2. Simply stated we have to have trust, be authentic, be accessible, be courageous, and be present to help rescue each other.
        3. First you have to have guys you trust.  Guys who understand brokenness and who won’t judge.  Guys who know your story.  Your real story.  Not the story that looks pretty from the outside, not the half story that shows you’re not perfect but leaving out “the really bad stuff”, but the authentic story about the lies that have attacked your life, the mistakes you’ve made because of wounds and idols, the ugly sin, what God is doing with you now, where you still struggle and where God is leading you.  We are all broken, brokenness is relatable, and we all have a story to tell.  Once you go to that level, you will have such trust and respect for each other, you will battle together from there on out.
          1. Once you share and let the walls down, where is nothing more to hide from, nothing more to fear.  There is so much FREEDOM here!
        4. You have to be accessible.  It doesn’t always have to be in person; be bold, be courageous, when you are struggling ASK FOR HELP, ASK FOR PRAYERS.  Seek good godly counsel.  Don’t go passive and hide in the dark, call it out by name and get your warrior buddies praying for you!  Make a phone call, send out an e-mail or text, but show the enemy you are not alone!!!
        5. You have to be present for each other.  At times, we have to remember not to go to “solution mode” with each other as well.  It’s tough for guys to share struggles, fears, failures, and mistakes.  Often, we need to bite our tongue and listen, the time will come for solution mode, you know it’s coming, but don’t interrupt or cut off a guy who is seeking help; let him talk and wait for him in invite you into the problem solving process.  If you cut him off, you are making it about you, and you might lose him.
        6. We can learn from each other, from each other’s triumphs and failures.  We can draw from each other’s strength and wisdom.  We can help rescue each other, if we are walking closely with God and with each other.
          1. This is a huge reason I am doing what God has asked me to do with the 3:18 Men of Freedom.  I have been blessed to be surrounded by a great church body and good godly men in my life.  Men who helped me grow.  Men who were courageous to speak truth to me and to lead by example.  I know this works because I’ve lived it and I want it for everyone.
  4. Questions to ponder:
    1. How well do you accept and identify with the fact that Jesus has rescued you?
    2. How is your quiet time with God / devotional life?  Are you taking the time to listen to Him?  Where might God be calling you to rescue others?
    3. If not, what steps do you need to take to begin sacrificing and rescuing for others?
    4. Do you allow your gratitude for Jesus’s rescue to motivate you to put others first?
    5. What does your rescue of others look like?  Do you do it with a glad heart?
    6. Does your rescue of others come from your own ideas?  Or from God’s call?

Men, I pray you can see yourself somewhere in this material.  We are all in different places in our walk with God.  We are all a work in progress!  Don’t beat yourself up, be patient.  Don’t be satisfied where you are; be willing to listen and to be stretched in order to grow.  I want to challenge you to find where you are at with rescue and truly ask God where he wants to bring you.  I know I spent most of my life not rescuing very well, if at all.  There is such a sense of reward when I allow myself to be a sacrifice for God; to listen to Him and to do something hard, something challenging, and something I never in a million years thought I could.  I pray you have experienced similar events in your life, and if not, I pray you would begin the process of allowing Jesus to guide you to His will and to obey.  Step out of your comfort zone, be fearless!!!

In Christ,

NickVandenBerg

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