prepare for what’s coming…


We move off the poser into the wound this week at ManSchool.  We all have wounds.  This is a brutal world.  We will discover some of those wounds but even more importantly, we’ll discover how those wounds shape us and the agreements we make around them.  The issue isn’t the wound.  The issue is what you do with it.

The issue isn’t that your Dad was an abusive, alcoholic, cold, checked-out man.  The issue is the agreement you made along the way that, therefore, “I don’t matter” and how that now plays out in your life.

These next 3-4 weeks are key to the whole thing.  Press into it.  Push back in if you’ve stopped coming.  Or even if you haven’t been coming, join us.  God can break into some incredible new frontiers if you will just let Him.

In preparation for the wound (and frankly, in preparation for every day we step into this world), we need to armor ourselves and brace

Weapons and Battleground        2 Corinthians 10:3-5

….weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty through God for pulling down strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.  The strongholds in peoples’ minds are prejudices and preconceptions

Basis of our victory         Colossians 2:13-15

Christ having disarmed the powers and authorities … triumphing over them by the cross.  Put on the full armor of God … Ephesians 6:10-17

Our defensive weapons

Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with the belt of truth, put away any shame, hypocrisy, religious clichés, saying and doing things we do not mean having put on the breastplate of righteousness, the breastplate of faith and love. (Eph 4:16)

Guard your heart, for from it flow the springs of life (Prov 4:23) protection for the heart is faith and having on your feet the preparation of the gospel of peace.               

Taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one this shield is big, protecting everyone and everything God has committed to us.

Take the helmet of salvation, the hope of salvation (1 Thess 5:8) protection for our mind is hope.

And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  When tempted to “doubt,” Jesus answered “it is written”.  When we take the sword of the Spirit, it is the Holy Spirit who gives us the wisdom and power to use it.

Notice, this is daily, full protection from the top of your head to the soles of your feet.  Include this in your daily prayer for yourself and your family and your realm of responsibility as we enter into this next phase of Wild at Heart


A picture of a poser…

In the movie, The Company Men, Bobby, played by Ben Affleck, works for GTX Corp – a major shipbuilder.  He’s got a pricey house, country club and leases a Porsche. He’s pretty self-absorbed and is clearly a poser.  He presents this false self of success and in that, a pretty clear shallowness emerges.  He walks into work in this opening scene and his entire world is about to be rocked.  It’s 2008 and we’re in the teeth of the global financial crisis.  He’s laid off.

He has to come home and tell his wife he’s been fired and right away, he wears the pose.  He falls back on this “I’ve got it under control, it’s not my fault, we got screwed mentality.”  He goes to anger but his stance is “I’m a stud, we’re going to be fine.”

Right after telling his wife he’s been fired, they are due to attend his brother-in-laws for a cookout.  Notice the difference in the two neighborhoods.  His brother-in-law Jack, played by Kevin Costner, is a contractor.  He’s a typical Boston, blue-collar, man’s man who has had to work for everything he has.  He cannot stand Bobby and the feeling is mutual.  The last thing Bobby wants is for anyone to know he’s been fired so he tells his family to keep a secret – especially to his brother-in-law

Bobby’s already turned down one job that would have required him to move.  He’s radically posing.  He’s in radical denial.  The gist of his whole story at this point is “this cannot have happened to me and why don’t any of these companies see just how wonderful I am”.  Bobby comes home from a day at the outplacement office.  His wife paying the bills and telling him they need to cut back and watch their spending.  Bobby grabs a juice box.  At the peak of this scene, Bobby’s Dad calls and immediately, he goes into the pose and lies to his Dad – says “work’s going great”.  She’s the responsible one.  She’s the adult.  She’s telling him to cut back, stop getting the Porsche detailed and playing so much golf.  He is presenting.  He’s still presenting this aura of “I am successful” and frankly, he won’t face the truth.  Bobby says in here “I don’t need a cushion”. 

In the next scene, his wife has taken the next responsible step of calling a realtor to sell the house so they can downsize.  Again, she’s the adult.  He’s in denial.  He’s a child.  “We’re not selling.  We’re not going to get stuck.”

Bobby goes for a job interview.  He’s incensed that he has to wait in the lobby for so long.  There’s a job but it isn’t the one he wants.  The job he has applied for has been filled but there is a regional sales manager job available in Little Rock making about 1/2 of what he was making.  He’s furious and screams at the interviewer (and the world), “I am highly qualified”.  I am!  This is the boy in him coming out, the kid that didn’t get picked for the team at school and has settled in an agreement about himself.

Bobby is finally exposed at the family Thanksgiving.  The poser is revealed and that great fear he had been hiding was laid out right in front of his brother-in-law.  With all the family present and Bobby still telling everyone that he’s working, his little girl lifts her father to God – “Let my Daddy get a job” and BOOM he’s exposed.  The lie he’d been carrying is now out there for all to see.  His brother-in-law – in an act of true grace in a rotten economy – comes to him and offers him a job working on his construction team.  Bobby’s response?  “I don’t see myself pounding nails”.

Bobby’s wife approaches him about selling the house and taking the job.  She tip-toes into this.  She’s careful to not run over him but she’s still being the adult, still the one saying, “we need to do something, you need to get a job”.  She’s affirming him as a man, calling to his masculinity – almost saying, “Rise up, you can do this.  Rescue us”.  He shuts her down.  Still in denial.

Here is where his denial peaks.  This is when the rubber meets the road and he’s finally smacked with the harsh reality.  He’s at the golf course – the classic pose.  Unemployed, about to get foreclosed on, wife has gone back to work and he’s still driving the Porsche to the Country Club.  He’s pulled off the course.  She’s canceled the CC membership – they cannot afford it.  Bobby is now exposed to the CC crowd. 

Furious, Bobby confronts Maggie at work with “how dare you cancel our Country Club membership”.  Maggie come back at him –  “This is real Bobby.  This is happening to us.  You’re wandering around like you’re in some sort of daze, playing golf, getting the Porsche detailed.”  Bobby – “Maggie I need to look successful.  I can’t look like just another asshole with a resume.”  I need to look successful.   And then, “I’m a 37 year old loser who can’t support my family”.  The poser cries out – I must be heard.

Finally, it happens.  Finally, the poser is broken.  Sometimes God has to really disrupt your life to get your attention.  He learns his son has given back his XBOX back because the kid realized they couldn’t afford it.  Bobby is slammed.  The kid is an adult and Bobby’s the child and the whole story changes.  Goes to Jack and asks for a job.  He spends his first day on the job carrying lumber up four flights of stairs.  The Porsche is gone and a beaten up Lumina takes its place.  Bobby has new boots and a new belt but he’s not ready for prime time and all he’s good for is hauling lumber.  But…it’s a job.  Jack pays him an extra $200.  Jack the jerk is rescuing Bobby.  He’s fathering him.

The new Bobby emerges.  He’s learning how to do the job.  He’s using his hands.  He’s filthy and sweaty.  He goes to bat for his friend and fights for him and gets him a job.  No longer self-absorbed  Jack is working overtime to get the job done by the deadline so they can get their bonus.  Bobby learns that Jack underbid the job to just keep them all working through the winter and needs the bonus just to break-even.  Bobby is being shown the things a true man will do for the benefit of others.

Bobby’s former boss is starting a new shipyard.  He’s calling out to Bobby to catch the vision.  “We used to make something here.  These men were building something they could see – not just figures on a balance sheet.  Something they could see, smell.  Those men knew who they were, they knew their worth.”  This is now Bobby – he no longer relies on a balance sheet, he knows what it means to build something, he knows he now has what it takes and no longer needs to rely upon the pose.

The poser is gone.  He’s grown up, responsible.  He apologizes to Maggie and owns his part.  Living with his parents, he’s been totally taken apart and is being rebuilt.  He is real and free for the first time and as Maggie says, “you were never here before.”  Bobby’s restored.  He stops to play hoops with his son.  He’s engaged.  He’s involved.  His priorities are in order.  He’s teaching his kids as he’s helping them build the tree house.  Offered a job to start a new shipbuilding firm, he goes to Jack – who is working on Sunday – and admits to Jack, “I was scared all the time”.  The poser is dead.  He’s willing to be real and true and authentic.

Do you see it?  Do you see how the poser just automatically boots up?  Do you see how Bobby had come to rely upon his false-self?  Do you see how the “real Bobby” was totally buried?

This is what posing does.  It buries the true you beneath the veneer of “I’ve got it all under control.”  There is great, great freedom in authenticity and not having to pose.  There is great freedom and letting it go and discovering the real you, the one God made and the one God adores.  Let it go and let God father you.

So what is it with you?  Where are you posing?  How does posing separate you from friends, your wife and more importantly, from God?  Dig into this and see what God exposes.


The Poser (3) – what lies beneath?


What lies beneath your surface?  What I see – what you’re willing to show me – when you present is about 10% of the real you.  What lies beneath?

What is it that you are covering up?  What do you fear?  What about you nags at you that you truly don’t have what it takes?

Why do you pose?  What motives lie beneath this false front you’ve created?  Say that again – what motives lie beneath?

Motives.  Think about that.  What is your motive for presenting this “I’ve got it figured out” false self?  What is your motive for snapping like a rattlesnake when your wife questions you?

We all have this false self we present.  It is elaborate, sophisticated and practiced.  It is habit.  It is habituated – like software, it just boots up.

We’ve worked so hard to create this persona, this image that we want to present that our default is that it is automatically going to boot up and run.  We have to work hard to stop it.  We need to disentangle.

The false self becomes less and less efficient at producing life and as we discussed last week, it doesn’t draw people in.  It pushes people away.  We present this image and in reality, it is a buffer, a shell to keep people away.  We desperately fear letting people in to see the true self.  So we hide and we present.

It is an addiction and like any addiction, it never truly delivers.  Just like booze or drugs or porn or an affair – they all promise an end to the pain and a deliverance but in reality, they snag you deeper into despair and isolation.  So it is with the pose.  It draws you in and – at all cost – you will maintain it lest anyone see you as a failure.  The more you nurture it, the more addicted you become to it and the less and less it works.  And, the more isolated you become.

A friend last night – “I’ve got about 10 guys all across the country that I can get on the phone or take a trip with and just be real.  I have no one here locally.  Why is that?  What’s wrong with me?  You know I can call up any of these guys and lay it out and confess I’m really struggling with _____ and yet, then right before I hang up, I can toss out this great closing that covers it up and smoothes it over and makes it look like life’s just great for me.  What’s that all about?”

We are hiding.  Each and every one of us.

Aware that we are not what we’re meant to be and desperately afraid of exposure, terrified of being seen for what we are (or are not), we run off to the bushes to hide and emerge with a shell around us.  We hide at work.  We hide at the gym.  We hide behind our spirituality or our rigid, rules-based life.  We hide behind our income or our title or our “manliness” of rugged, hard-scrabbled, hunting, country boy-ness.  Most of what you encounter when you meet a man is a façade, an elaborate fig leaf.  A brilliant disguise. 

You only see the very tip of the iceberg. 

Everything we are after in this study – after the wild at heart, the adventure, the beauty to fight for, the posing, the wounds – everything is about one thing, being fathered by God.  That’s it.  That’s the “secret” of Wild at Heart.  It’s all about being fathered by God.  By knowing, I mean really, truly knowing you are God’s beloved.  That He adores you.  That He’s proud of you and dreams great dreams for you.  To truly feel that – to feel and know God loves you – that’s what we’re after. 

One man said the other night at a gathering where we were sharing about out experience with Wild at Heart – “Is it OK that I take from all this simply a renewed focus on loving others?  I mean can I just come out of this and just be better at loving my wife and my kids and others?”  Yes, you can but the key thing you are going to miss if, that becomes your mission, is knowing and feeling and deeply enjoying that God himself truly loves you.

What God cares about in that iceberg at the top of this page is not the 10% above the surface that you let everyone else see.  No, He wants the 90% below the surface.  In fact, He wants the deepest, most painful parts, those parts buried in the very deepest waters of your soul.  He wants the pain, the shame and the hurt.  Drop the pose and offer up to God your deepest pains and your deepest longings and let Him father you in those.

Carrying these poses is very much like lugging around that iceberg every day.  Freedom, great freedom, lies on other side of dropping the pose and no longer having to present this false front.  It is honesty and transparency and integrity.  Carrying the pose is exhausting.  It will wear you slap out. 

Aren’t you tired?  Aren’t you ready to give up the pose and be authentic?  Aren’t you ready to be washed clean and know God adores you?  “Be still and know I am God.”  Get quiet this week guys.  Find a solitary place and go answer those questions from last week.

Be still and KNOW that you are God’s beloved.

it is getting tricky…

And so now it gets tricky.  We are into the poser and we’ve moved beyond the testosterone-laced Wild at Heart call of the adventure, battle, rescue thing.  That draws us in.  That is beautiful because it awakens something in us and then BAMMM, the poser hits.


Now it gets tricky.  Now we’re going a bit below the surface.  Now some rough edges are being exposed.

And now the temptation will be … to check out.

4-5 weeks into this, the temptation will be to quit this race we’ve embarked upon, this new frontier we’ve agreed to push into.  Now’s when we say, “We didn’t know it’d be this rough, we didn’t know there would be rough weather and cold nights and Indians and rattlesnakes to deal with.  We need to turn the wagons around and head back to town where it is safe.”  And in so doing, the great American frontier was never discovered.  We never saw the Mississippi, never saw the great plains, never saw the Rockies nor put our feet into the blue Pacific.  We never truly lived.  Oh we were safe, but we never truly lived.

Men, we are after LIFE in all this.  We are after the Father.  We are dredging trying to clear the silt out of our channels so the river of life can flow.

You’re going to have to fight for this.  You are going to have to fight.

See you tomorrow morning.

The Poser (2) & questions for you


Posing began in the Garden in Genesis 3.  Adam & Eve made this intense effort to hide.  The fig leaf is their pose so their true self could not be seen.  The issue isn’t the fig leaf, the issue is the hidingThe issue for you is your hiding.

Bart manipulated people for self-adulation.  He manipulated his wife and turned conversations on her and her need to be restored thus deflecting his need.  He manipulated to elevate his prominence at Ransomed Heart.  He manipulated to seek self-significance. 

Morgan, when in the company of real men who he wanted to be like, felt inadequate.  It’s amazing how quickly you can shift from feeling like a man, acting like a man and when you’re around real men, you suddenly feel like you don’t have what it takes.  So he learned to hide by being that guy that is “always coming through”.

Just about anything can be a layer, a pose.  Posing is a counterfeit life. You’ll never move from the counterfeit to the real thing if the counterfeit is working.  The tragedy is that it can work – for a while.  So you stay with it.  Leaning on the pose creates a dependency on it.  It won’t go away easily.

Christ is genuine, true, deep and real and to get to me and to break the pose and move me off that, Christ will disrupt my life.  He exposes the fake to turn us to the real. As he breaks you, at some point you just get tired of posing and you simply want the real thing.  You crave the authentic – “What would it be like to be an authentic man for a change?”  So many of the disruptions in our lives are God inviting us to another way to live life. 

Warning – the problem with the posing is that it gains a permanence in our life.  We become posers who talk a good talk and do a lot of stuff and get a little applause but we’re hiding, we’re faking.  We have to turn and change directions.  We have to say, “I don’t want that anymore”.  We have to believe God can make me a man that can deal freely, strongly, authentically with anything that pops up.  To get there, we’re going to have to turn and leave something we’ve relied upon (perfected?) for a long, long time.

Anything can be a pose…Craig, while giving this talk said, “Do you realize what’s beneath my teaching/leading?  This could be desperately wicked.  (what’s the true motive)  It may be all about something else.  It may be all about me and nothing about helping you encourage your hearts to find the real thing.”

Do you see?  Do you see how this happens?  Do you see – deep down – what drives us?

It’s that image of what we want people to think we are instead of the authentic reality of who we truly are and desire to truly become in Christ. 

Alone time questionsI want you to take 45 minutes and get alone.  Go out in the woods, go find a quiet stream to sit by, sit on your patio or drive way as the sun is setting.  Be still.  Know God.  Feel Him.  Meditate on Him.  Drive out all the distractions and ask yourself these questions.

  1. How do you see yourself as a man? What words describe you? Words like strong, passionate, dangerous for good?
  2. Do you have the courage to ask those in your life what they think of you as a man? What words would they use?
  3. What is your effect on others? Remember Bart’s effect on his wife.
  4. What do you fear your effect is?

Living in the Light – an opportunity to face a huge issue

sunrise at ccc

As we exited CCC this morning, this is what greeted us.  God’s glory was shining.

Thanks to Eric Kennedy for his offer to lead a small group through the Living in the Light material which directly and transparently goes after the addiction to pornography.

Many of us pose in this area.  We mask it, justify it and would never let on to anyone that we’ve got a problem with it.  As we discussed this morning, keeping it in the dark layered by this false-self, false-front, false-persona of “never being a man who’d struggle with something like that” is exactly where Satan wants you.  He wants you alone and far removed from God, layered up behind the false-front and if he can get you there, you are ripe to be taken out completely by pornography.

If you’re ready to come clean and admit this is an issue for you, Eric is offering an opportunity to come out of the darkness and step into the light.

All you need to do is respond below.  Just say “yes, I need this and I will commit to seeing it through”.  It will be confidential and I’ll compile the list and we’ll set up a time for the group to meet.

The Poser (1) – Wild at Heart

Today we dug in a little deeper and it struck close to home for many of us.  Now we’re getting into the “real stuff” and it’s only going to get better from here.  Stay with this.  Push into it.  If something unnerved you today, journal it, find a brother and talk about it, open it up – whatever you do, don’t ignore it and stuff it back down.  It popped up for a reason.  Push and find out why it struck you.

Oh to be this man — “A man of strength, integrity, who lives with an intentionality and has a movement in his life towards God and others.  A man who rescues others, who lives well, loves well and who is free, strong and loving.”  We all know a few men like this; real, authentic, genuine men.  Men who are transparent and strong.  Men who don’t pose, are humble and yet so strong.  They are very rare but when you find a man like this, aren’t you just drawn to him?  This vs. the poser, you know that man that has his shirt unbuttoned showing off his chest hair, cigar dangling from his mouth saying things like “I should have been a cowboy.”  That guy…does he draw you in?  No, of course not.  That guy, the poser, no, he pushes people away because he is terrified to let anyone see his true self.

We’re all born with this question of “Do I have what it takes?”  Can I rise up and face and deal with all that is required of me as a man?  It’s a question that haunts us.

And we’ve all been told – some on multiple fronts, some in quite painful ways – “No, you don’t have what it takes.”  Maybe it was your father or an older brother.  Maybe it was a boss or a coach.  Maybe it is your wife.

When that plays out, when you’re told “You don’t have what it takes”, when that is seen and we’re exposed as not having what it takes…there is nothing worse.  I liken it to having a colonoscopy.  Then they tell you to take off your clothes and put on that gown, you’re exposed.  I doesn’t matter what you walked into that hospital as – a doctor, a trial lawyer making $1 million a year, a Pastor, a CEO, an NFL superstar – none of it matters.  Suddenly, you are naked, vulnerable and exposed.  That is what it feels like to be told “You don’t have what it takes” – naked, vulnerable, exposed.

We all have areas where we get our applause.  But we all have areas that haunt us where we don’t have what it takes.  So what we do is we hide.  We hide those areas so no one will see us.  And we concentrate on the few areas of success, skill and ability.  And with those other parts, we hide. 

We pose because if we were truly seen as not having it all together, we couldn’t take it.  So we fake it.  We mask it.  We fall back on the strengths of our checkbook or our looks or our athleticism or our intelligence or our theologian-like knowledge of the Bible.  In so doing, we create this buffer around us, this bubble that keeps people a certain distance away from our core where they can’t see our vulnerability and weakness.  We don’t let anyone in too close perhaps even most particularly, Eve because she has the ability to cut our legs out from beneath us so we don’t let her see our weakness.

The beautiful thing is that Christ offers us a genuine strength so we don’t have to hide, pose or fake it.  His restoration goes deep. What He offers goes beneath the surface of what people see – the 90% below the surface. 

What God is after in us is a restoration, a transformation to becoming a man that is engaged, loving, moving towards others, offering, handling his world with a strength and courage and reliance on God.

Breaking the pose is a step towards freedom.

A step to the future so I can start being trained for my role in the Kingdom instead of battling my past – i.e. I am wounded by this weakness I have, the things that were said against me, so I have crafted this slick pose, this false-front so that I can appear to be “the man”.

Breaking the pose means being strong enough to be vulnerable, to be real.  That authenticity will draw people in whereas the Poser pushes people away.

We have to cultivate this shift to authenticity and away from the pose.  We don’t fix it in one session.  No, these fig leaves we’ve crafted to mask our true selves have been perfected over decades.  They just don’t quietly go away in the night.  You’re going to have to fight for freedom (remember the warrior?) and pursue this breaking of the pose. 

It is like a rough, clay filled piece of dirt.  We have to dig the soil.  Harrow up the field.  Fertilize it.  Plant it.  Water it.  Pick up the rocks.  Dig it all up again.  Re-fertilize.  Compost it.  Kill it back, burn it.  Dig it up some more, re-fertilize, replant.  And in a few years, you’ll have lush, green fields producing a good crop.  A good soil = a good outcome.  It takes time and work but the outcome is very much worth it – an abundant life.

Dropping the pose is going to take work but it leads to life.

How many of you are living in the past?  Fearing the future?  All of this at the utter cost of missing the “now”?  What’s the cost of the pose?

more next week…

to be this man…

Looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday morning…   Read Chapter 3 of Wild at Heart.

Some business – James Warren has a project that may need about 10 men this Saturday to help a church that recently had a fire.  The pastor of this church came to our Lead to Lead conference and James was praying with him and asked him if there was anything our church could do for him.  He was blown away at the offer and told James about the need to move items after the fire.  He is going to be getting me details and I’ll pass that along.

That got me thinking (and thanks to Bill Angles for prompting me on this yesterday) – for the following weekend when “The Church Has Left The Building” – there may be many of us in need of a project for that weekend.  If you have an idea or a project already set up, please bring it to ManSchool on Wednesday and we’ll present it to the group.

Now for this thought to prepare you for Wednesday…

“Don’t we all want to be that man?  That man of strength, integrity, who lives with an intentionality, who has a movement of his life towards God, towards others, a man who rescues others, who lives well and loves well.  That man who is free, strong and loving?”