Our Spirits Groan

Posted by on Oct 2, 2017 in Community, Culture, Fear, Hope | 6 comments

We see the news updates on our phones and can hardly believe what we are seeing. We turn on the TV and shake our heads, wordlessly, stunned at the carnage we once again witness in our broken world.

A morally lost 64 year-old man has killed more 50 and wounded more than 500 attenders of an outdoor concert in Las Vegas. He’d probably never met any of them. The audio of machine gun fire, along with the video of thousands running, crouching, weeping, is almost more than our hearts and minds can handle…

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What “No” Doesn’t Mean

Posted by on Feb 18, 2017 in Courage, Fear, Leadership | 0 comments

It’s taken me quite awhile to learn this lesson. I now know it’s true.

Wisdom from Seth Godin:

What “no” means

I’m too busy
I don’t trust you
This isn’t on my list
My boss won’t let me
I’m afraid of moving this forward
I’m not the person you think I am
I don’t have the resources you think I do
I’m not the kind of person that does things like this
I don’t want to open the door to a long-term engagement
Thinking about this will cause me to think about other things I just don’t want to deal with

What it doesn’t mean:

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The Lure of Passivity

Posted by on Jan 12, 2016 in Character, Courage, Fear, Leadership, Transformation | 0 comments

I really couldn’t have said this any better than my friend Chris Bruno of Restoration Project just did. In fact, he says it even better than I could have. This is worth your time…

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And the Greatest of These…is Shame.

Posted by on Mar 30, 2015 in Anger, Character, Community, Fear, Significance, Transformation | 5 comments

Most people who know much about men, know that anger is a frequent trait that we struggle with. It seems to be a reflexive emotion whenever we encounter frustration or disappointment. It comes out in road rage, kicking the cat, yelling at the kids, or abusing wives. It’s awful and it’s destructive. A second emotion men struggle with is fear. In fact, fear is often the actual emotion lurking beneath the surface in men, that presents itself outwardly as anger. Men don’t know it, or don’t want to admit it, but what we are often angry about is fear of failure. Humans are designed to long for the fulfillment of two profound inner needs: Relationship/Intimacy and Respect/Impact. While we all line up on a sliding scale in our thirst for these two, most men long first for respect; most women long first for relationship. Of course, there are exceptions to this pattern in both men and women. But that’s what they are…exceptions. Because our deepest longings tend to be connected to our gender, our deepest fears do, too. If a woman longs first for relationship, her greatest fear is abandonment or betrayal; the loss of relationship. If a man longs first for respect, his greatest fear is  failure, the loss of respect. Not long ago a friend asked me, “What are the issues that bring out the most shame in men?” I thought immediately of the above way of understanding men. The issues that are most likely to bring up the most shame, have to do with failure: Divorce Bankruptcy Failing college Loss of reputation Not measuring up in sports Getting fired Dishonorable discharge from the military Time in prison Body image Men fear all of these, and once experienced, they can result in enormous shame—the sense of being unusually defective in worth, value and significance. But nothing casts more shame than failure of sexual morality: promiscuity, affairs, porn, prostitutes, STD’s, strip clubs, abortion. These deserve their own list. They are why the Bible says, “Run away from sexual sin. Every other sin people do is outside their bodies, but those who sin sexually sin against their own bodies.” I Cor. 6:18 NCV In my opinion shame is the deepest most frequent emotion many men feel, and they have no idea it’s there, nor how to combat it. As I’ve written in previous posts, you scratch the surface of just about any self-serving, self-protective, self-pleasuring or other-harming behavior in men, and you’ll find shame. It’s the conviction that we don’t matter and no one cares anyway. So we’re going to compensate one way or another. In that respect shame is both the source and the consequence of our sin. How do we overcome shame? We renounce the lies of the Enemy that tell us we should be ashamed of ourselves. We claim the promise of God the Father that we are fully forgiven and fully accepted as sons. We remind ourselves of Scripture that says no one who trusts in God will ever be put to shame.     (Ro. 10:11) We entrust a few well-chosen men with our story, our temptations and our hopes. In doing so, we have community with each other and the blood of Jesus transforms us. (I John 1:7) For men, these three remain: anger, fear and shame. But the greatest of these…is shame. Greater still? The grace of God, the truth of his Word, the hope of community and the power of the blood of...

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Will You Wear A Mask This Year?

Posted by on Jan 6, 2015 in Character, Fear, God, Significance | 1 comment

So, I was enjoying a cup of coffee and conversation with a friend at Starbucks, when all of a sudden I was staring at Danny Devito and Jack Nicholson. I took a double-take. What in the world are they doing here? But on my third-take, I had a sense that something was wrong. While these men looked very much like the well-known movie stars, there was something just a little bit off, a little bit false, in their appearance. Curious, I went over to their table and said, “OK, you know why I’m here, who are you guys?” They gave me their cards and confirmed that they were celebrity impersonators. Their calling in life was to represent someone other than who they really were. We may chuckle, but the truth is we often do the same—we spend great effort portraying ourselves to others as someone other than who we really are. It’s a mask we wear in order to cover up what’s flawed, or to impress others with an image beyond our true selves. This pattern, portraying a false self, is epidemic among mankind, and it began very early in the human story. When the first man and woman were caught in deceit, and God came looking for them, their immediate reflex was to cover up and hide: “Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized they were naked…and made coverings for themselves.” Genesis 3:7 When they “heard the sound of the Lord…they hid.” v. 8 When God called to Adam, he said, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” v. 10 With that starkly honest, and horribly revealing exchange, a pattern was set for all men and women who are aware of their fallenness and flaws—”I’m exposed, I am afraid, I must hide myself.” We learn to hide flaws behind a mask, and promote a false self that we think impresses others more than who we really are. The problem is, that on a certain level it works. There are many masks we take on that effectively cover up, impress, or intimidate: Blamer/Victim. Stoic/Tough guy/Loner People-pleaser Performer/Impresser/Workaholic Perfectionist/Expert/Authority Intimidator/Attacker/Winner Pious legalist/Judge/Condemner Rebel/Passive-ist Clown/Joker Author Larry Crabb says, “We are ruthlessly committed to self protection.” That is the underlying longing behind every one of these false-self masks. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are following the footsteps of Adam and Eve, and we believe: I am naked, I am afraid, I must hide myself. All of us are ruthlessly committed to wearing masks that provide self-protection. The Enemy, who is the ultimate deceiver, sees the genuine gifts and talents that God has given us, and urges us to distort them into self-protective impersonations: The man with high quality standards becomes the demanding Perfectionist. The man who enjoys making others feel welcome becomes the Joker who hides his true heart. The man who cares about the needs of others becomes the People-pleaser controlled by the opinions of others. The man of conviction and strength becomes the Intimidator who insists on getting his way. The man with persuasive ability to inspire others becomes the Performer who impresses. The man with enormous energy becomes the Workaholic enslaved by his job. The mask of the false-self is a broken distortion of our true self; ruthlessly committed to self-protection. The saving grace is that behind that false-self mask is a godly longing for what mankind once experienced in the Garden: The Perfectionist is longing for acceptance The Joker is longing for joy The People-pleaser is longing for...

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Dangerous Play

Posted by on Sep 1, 2013 in Community, Fear, Redemption, Significance, Transcendence | 8 comments

“What did ‘play’ mean for you as a boy? What does it look like now?” Those were the deceptively profound, seemingly innocent, questions posed to me, and a group of men, at a Brotherhood Adventure last week in the Poudre River Canyon, west of Fort Collins, CO. By the end of the conversation I thought, I wish Beryl and every woman I know could have heard what I just heard. We were men from all over the country, meeting as board members and advisers for Restoration Project, a wonderful partner men’s ministry with Peregrine, started by Chris Bruno and Greg Daley. The question posed by Chris, opened up surprising responses, including my own. My responses: • Play was initially about dirt and mud. When I was 5 my dream career was to be a ditch-digger. I longed to be just like the men I saw tearing up dirt and laying sewer lines in the countryside of Glenview, IL in 1958. That eventually got “civilized” out of me. Boys in the northwest suburbs of Chicago aren’t supposed to get dirty. • Play became about sports—dodge ball, softball, cannonballs in the local swimming pool, touch football, and “Red Rover.” That eventually got trained out of me. Sports became less about play and more about competition, performance and winning. I still wrestle to redeem the “play” of competitive swimming. Other responses courageously offered by the men present: • “In Junior High play with other boys was full of bullying and embarrassment.” • “I learned that other boys aren’t safe. And, eventually, that men are dangerous.” • “When I compete with men, I want to kill them.” (This from a guy who brought a handgun that afternoon to a 4-wheeling jaunt. Judging from past observation, we knew he was comfortable using it.) • “I’m not sure I know how to play any more. Something got lost.” There were more, deeply honest and revealing, comments from a room full of men who, by appearance, age range and by geography from across the country, looked like a typical male sampling. Almost invariably the comments revealed pain, embarrassment, uncertainty, loss, fear and shame. And we were talking about play, for Pete’s sake! Of course, on the surface we all know how to play Texas Hold ‘Em (except for me; I re-learn the rules every 5 years, or just say, That’s OK, I’ll watch.); we all know how to recite the expected familiarity with the NFL, NASCAR, the NBA, NHL or MLB. We all have our selected few sports in which we will confidently engage. But just beneath the surface “play” reveals the emotions mentioned above, and one more even deeper thought, “I’m not sure I really measure up as a man.” That’s what I wish women could have heard: the subtle, competitive, pain-tinged, and sometimes abuse-filled memories that the word “play” brings to honest men. Even a sport as typically innocuous as golf is filled with both longings for the joy of nature and male brotherhood, along with abject fear of how that first drive on the first hole is going to go. Men, does it do that for you? Me, too. One of the men, whose “play” is both adventuresome and safe, more so than just about any other man I know, is my college friend and sister’s husband, Mike Anderson. Mike helped re-introduce me to “dirt” on fishing expeditions in Canada with our kids a number of years ago. I’m indebted to him. Take a look at the pictures included here. They are of this same group of men mentioned above, having the time...

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