A Good Man

Posted by on Dec 15, 2015 in Character, Legacy, Transformation | 0 comments

What does a good man look like?

“He whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;

whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;

who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;

who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

He who does these things
will never be shaken.”

Psalm 15

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Shame Returns, The Sequel

Posted by on Sep 24, 2015 in Character, Jesus, Redemption, Transformation | 5 comments

shameMan, am I vulnerable to Shame!

Those who know me, have heard me speak, or have read some of my blog posts, know I have a passion to see men (and women) freed from Shame. (I even capitalize the dang word because of its significance.)

I’m often reminded that the root of my passion about this subject is my own vulnerability to the message of self-condemnation, and disappointment in self, that rears its head on a regular basis.

Shame is the message that, not only did I do something wrong, but there is something wrong with who I am. Guilt is conviction about our behavior; Shame is condemnation about our identity. Conviction comes from the voice of the Holy Spirit. Shame is the condemning lie from the Enemy.

I know all of this. Yet I am still vulnerable. My guess is I’m not the only one. Because Shame returns.

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Remembering What We’ve Never Known

Posted by on Jul 17, 2015 in God, Transcendence, Transformation | 4 comments

“I desire something I vaguely recall; I long for something in my future that somehow I remember.”— Cindy Crosby Have you ever found yourself longing for something undefinable? Some spiritual or emotional experience you sense is out there, but you can’t necessarily describe? I have; and I think almost all of us do. To me it’s Transcendence. In her fascinating book on the spiritual dimensions of creation and nature, By Willoway Brook, author Cindy Crosby describes her insights gleaned from countless hikes in a nature preserve, called the Morton Arboretum, near her home in the western suburbs of Chicago. (Coincidentally, it’s the same place I proposed to my then-girlfriend and my now-wife back in 1975.) While watching and researching Monarch butterflies she discovered that every fall millions of Monarchs leave their natural habitat in the eastern parts of North America, pass through the Midwest, and arrive “home”— a remote fifty acres at 10,000 feet altitude in a mountain range in Mexico. None of them have ever been there before, but something in their DNA compels them to return “home.” Crosby points out that Monarchs aren’t the only species that demonstrates the same familiarity with, or memory of, a place they have never been to: Gray whales migrate 7,000 miles up the Pacific coast from Baja California to the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Eels descend east coast streams they’ve never been in to spawn and then die Chinook salmon climb from the Pacific a thousand miles up the Snake River to breed Each September some 70,000 Bar-tailed godwits fly 7,700 miles, non-stop over 6-8 days, from Alaska to New Zealand, then return the following March. We humans have our own “migrations” to experience something out of the ordinary: Each summer nearly 1,000 athletes compete in a 26 mile marathon up to the summit of 14,110 foot Pikes Peak in Colorado, and then back down. This August and September over 65,000 people will attend the Burning Man event in northern Nevada to experience “community, art, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance.” (Wikipedia) Every able-bodied Muslim has a religious duty of pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime. This year more than 2 million will make this Hajj. An estimated 3 million Christian men attended the Promise Keepers’ Stand in the Gap event in Washington, DC in 1997. 5 men have attended all 48 Super Bowls since the first championship in 1967. Somewhere deep inside, we humans have a longing for the spectacular, the spiritual, the ecstatic, the breath-taking, or the transformational. Like the extraordinary migrations of some of the animal kingdom, our pilgrimages reveal a pull to return to a familiar place we’ve never been to before. They reveal a longing for a new place that feels like home. C.S. Lewis wrote: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” Do you experience that? I’ll bet you do. It’s what we are looking for on a hike through a forest of redwood trees. It’s the joy we experience at the sound of an orchestra majestically playing a moving piece of music in perfect unison. It’s the reason tears stream down our cheeks when we watch a son, daughter or friend participate in a sporting accomplishment that we know took enormous discipline and courage. It’s why dozens of anonymous beach hikers stand in silence as the sun slowly sets on a gulf coast Florida beach, then spontaneously cheer together when it disappears from view. It’s why we stand in awe in a...

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Glory and Ruin, Part II

Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Character, Heroes, Redemption, Transformation, Uncategorized | 0 comments

“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.”   —Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn As a survivor of the Gulag Archipelago, the massive Soviet system of prisons to which political and religious dissidents were abandoned from the 1940-80’s, Solzhenitsyn had an unusually awful exposure to mankind’s wickedness. Though he might have considered himself above those who committed such crimes, he was honest enough to admit his own flaws. I am convicted, and compelled, by the fact that men are capable of performing some of the most heroic of acts, as well as the most heinous of crimes. (I touched on this theme in a post a year ago, also entitled Glory and Ruin). Our daily headlines reveal stories of men engaged in life-risking bravery alongside depictions of men committing unspeakable brutality. Glory and Ruin. It would be nice, as Solzhenitsyn suggests, if we could just separate the wicked men of our world into a consolidated group and just get rid of them. The truth, as honest men will admit, is more complicated. Although there are without question, unusually evil men and unusually good men in the world, most of us know that, while we long to become men who others trust and admire, we also have the capacity for selfishness, betrayal and deceit. Glory and Ruin. I am convinced that, just as men carry the potential to inflict unusual harm, they carry equal potential to bestow unusual blessing. Glory and Ruin resides in all of us (women, too, by the way). Scripture urges us to  “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Heb. 3:13, 14. Men, let’s take an honest look in the mirror, and admit and repent of any selfish patterns of Ruin. And then, quickly, embrace the Glory present in all of us who claim the transforming power of the blood of Christ. Glory and Ruin. I see it in me; I see it in other men. You do, too. Believe in, and call out, the...

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You Are Light

Posted by on May 11, 2015 in Character, Community, Transformation | 0 comments

As I’ve met with a group of over 50 men on Friday mornings this past year, I John 1:7 has been a core verse for us: “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin.” What a great verse for us to remember, and to live out. This verse reminds Christ-followers that since “God is light,” we do not intentionally walk in darkness as we did before. Eph. 5:8 says the same, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light…” At one time we were defined by darkness; now we are defined by light. Our group has applied this challenge “to walk in the light” to our relationships with each other as well. We have increasingly entrusted our stories, our joys and hopes, and our struggles and challenges with one another. In doing so, two wonderful things happen: • “We have fellowship with one another”– We discover we aren’t alone in our journey; many others have similar circumstances • “The blood of Jesus…purifies us”– Our shared faith in the power of the blood of Christ has a transforming affect on us. Are there men, or is there one man, in your life with whom you can have this kind of walk? Will you reach out to...

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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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