last session of the spring – “Story” …

Today, we wrapped up Manschool for the Spring.  It was a great day.  Ken Himes blessed us with coins we can take with us daily to remind us to put on the full armor of God.  Wow!  Thanks Ken.  Dave Jeffers and his team shared the plans for the fall men’s retreat.  They’ve done a great job and have found a great location.  Richard Peters shared what their small group will be doing during the 3-4 weeks before “Manschool lite” starts our summer series – their group will continue to meet and allow men to share their life story with their small group.  By sharing our story, we truly get to know one another.

We announced the launch of m&wman&woman – pursing God together – the extension ministry from Manschool where we’ll be intentional about having at least quarterly gatherings with childcare for our tribe and our women.  We’ll show videos like the “Who told you that you were naked?” and “Rethinking God – God isn’t disappointed in you (shame)” and we’ll break to let the ladies unpack it and talk through what the videos meant to them while we men do the same thing and then we’ll come back together and discuss it together.  We’ll encourage you to grab a few other couples and meet for dinner beforehand as yet another way to build our community.

notes from today…

A few of us went last week to Newnan to see the release of Eldredge’s new film, A Story Worth Living.  It was amazing and this notion of “story” has really stuck with me.  Interestingly, of note, so far, “story” is the #1 question you want answered according to the early results from our poll (see the previous post on the blog).  Story ties in with so much of what we’ve done this Spring.

“What are you so mad at son?”  It’s a good question.  “What are you afraid of?”  “Why won’t you let people get close to you?”  “Why all this discouragement?”   Why are you hiding?  There’s always a story.  Behind every man, there is a back story – the things that shaped you.  Behind every posing man, there is a wounded boy.

Many of us struggle with addictions – addicted to sex, pornography, addicted to needing other’s approval of us, addicted to needing to be seen as successful or having it all figured out.  The need for control.  Addicted to money or power or reputation.  Other medications – drugs, booze, toys like cars, guns, TV’s – striving to find that one thing that will make me feel better.  In all of this, we must ask, “What is it you’re trying to medicate here?”

There is a root in us – a story or a history that explains it.

“He FOULED me!” – someone did a great injustice to me, offended me, being ignored, overlooked, passed by … you take a lot of wounds in this life.  Pay attention to what Jesus is surfacing here.  We need to pay attention to the wounds and we need to learn how to invite Jesus into those wounded and painful places to seek His healing and restoration.

We make agreements with our pain.  Things are done to you or spoken over you.  Many times, it is multiple assaults against the same soft spot – a common theme against you.  The wounds carry a message and over time, we make agreements.  Agreements meaning we accept them as truth.  “I am not worth loving”.  “I will always be a failure”.  “I will always be alone.”  “I am a seagull.”  “My father was right, I am ______”.  “Life will never be the same”.  When you find yourself saying these things over yourself, you’ve made an agreement with a wound.  There is a pain that came into your life and you’ve agreed with it and odds are, it has played a huge role in your life.  If you believe you don’t have a voice, that your opinion doesn’t matter and that no one cares, eventually you’ll go silent.  You’ve let those other voices come in and silence you.  That’s a wound and an agreement and you need to invite Jesus into that pain.

All of this goes to storyYour life is a story.

Your heart is made for an epic story.  When you give up looking for your story, you give up living.  For many of us, our wounds have told us there is no story for us and so we’ve stopped seeking it.  You have a story – each and every one of you – that is worth living.  Maybe there has been a lot of misery in your life and you no longer believe you have anything to offer.  It’s not so.  God is in the business of turning misery into ministry.

You have a story worth living.  What will you do to find yours?  How do you want the story of your life to end?  Not all the mistakes and junk of the past but rather from this day forward how do you want your story to end?

last Manschool of Spring is this Wednesday – special info

We will finish up Manschool for the Spring this Wednesday.  We have some cool stuff – 1) a give away and 2) a very exciting summer man adventure and 3) a vision of what I think will be an exciting extension of the Manschool LiveUP ministry that we’ll reveal.  Our summer series will begin in 3-4 weeks.

If you’ve been coming this spring – and even if you haven’t been there lately – please join us.

What are you so mad at son? How to heal the wounds

“What are you so mad at son?”  It’s a good question.  What are you afraid of?  Why won’t you let people get close to you?  What is with this discouragement?  Why are you hiding?  Why do you want to do life alone as a lone wolf?  There’s always a story.  Behind every posing man is a wounded boy.  Something presents itself and you’ll say “What was that all about?”  This anger/rage just comes up from nowhere.  This loneliness.  This hurt.  This feeling of “I’ll never be loved”.  It just comes up and we rarely are willing to go back to the root cause to discover where it all started.

Corrective words are spoken to a man but they are heard by the little boy on the inside.  The boy freaks out, can’t handle the correction and shuts down.  The emotions that present themselves out of nowhere – the search for comfort, sexual temptation, etc. ask yourself, “What is it I am trying to medicate here?”   The compulsions with food, drugs, alcohol, sex, trying to get people to notice me, like me – what is that all about?

There is a root in us – a history or a story that explains it.  Seabiscuit – “He fouled me!” – someone did a great injustice to me, someone offended me … we take a lot of wounds in this life.

John has a mother wound.  He recoiled at the notion of soldiers calling out for Mom as they lay dying.  He couldn’t fathom that.  His mother was professional, brilliant, precise, upper class, no mercy, ruled the roost, exacting in her expectations, angry, bitter, ex-Catholic – never showed emotion, appeared “perfect”, striving, etc.  It shaped John deeply.  It showed up later in his life in how he related to women.

It’s not just father wounds – it is mother wounds, wounds from sports where we were tested and validated – or – invalidated, too weak or not good enough to make the team. There are failure wounds – failed business, failed marriage.  Women fear abandonment, men fear failure.  The wounds come.

Jesus wants to heal all the wounded places and the enemy doesn’t want to lose his hold on you. This will be a fight as you try to break the power of these wounds.

Pay attention to what God is surfacing here.  We need to pay attention to these wounds and then we need to learn to invite Christ into it to seek His healing and restoration.

It often feels like there are these young places in us.  Something will happen and we’ll feel 13 again or 4.  We feel young.  Well…you kind of are.  There are places in your heart that were wounded young, never healed and never grew up.  Part of you stays at this age.

Jesus is saying, “Let me restore you” – healing the whole man.  Invite Jesus there – into the anger or the memory, the “why do I get angry when older men in authority don’t treat me well – what’s that about Jesus?”   Jesus, where did this get started?  Keep asking, keep praying “Jesus come into this. Take me back to this.  I give you access.  I give you permission.”  Then, pay attention.  Ask this and pray it and then pay attention.  Big agreements may appear.  You may realize, you’ve agreed with “I am an idiot” or “It was all fault” or “I’ll never trust anyone again” or “I’m not worthy of being loved” – those things about you that you’ve agreed with, taken in and maintained/nurtured.

When you find an agreement you’ve made – break it, renounce it.  Those phrases show up like “I deserve this” … break it.  Renounce it.  Those things spoken over you by your Father or brother or a coach – renounce them.

The enemy will fight it.  Confusion will come in.  A cloud, a fog or a malaise.  Fear.  Pause.  “I bring the work of my Lord Jesus Christ against this fear, this abandonment, this confusion – I reject it in the name of Jesus. I banish it is Jesus’ name.  It has no power here.”

Ask Jesus to reveal the beginning, the root of all this.  Where did it start? 


The Message of the Arrows – from Sacred Romance

At some point we all face the same decision – what will we do with the arrows we have known?  What have they tempted us to do?  However they come to us, whether through a loss we experience as abandonment or some deep violation we feel as abuse, their message is always the same: kill your heart.  Divorce it, neglect it, run from it, or indulge it with some anesthetic (our addictions).

Our deepest convictions are formed without conscious effort, but the effect is a deep shift in our soul.  We form commitments to never be in that position again, never to know that sort of pain again.  The result is an approach to life we call our personality.

In every way that Romance is full of beauty and wonder, the Arrows are equally powerful in their ugliness and devastation.  The Romance seems to promise a life of wholeness through a deep connection with the great Heart behind the universe.  The Arrows deny it, telling us, “You are on your own. There is no Romance, no one strong and kind who is calling you into an exotic adventure.”   The Romance says the world is a benevolent place.  The Arrows mock such naïveté, warning us, “Just watch yourself – disaster is a moment away.”  The Romance invites us to trust.  The Arrows intimidate us into self-reliance.

The Romance whispers that we are someone special, that our heart is good because it is made for someone good; the Arrows tell us we are a dime a dozen, worthless, even dark and twisted and dirty.  Where is life to be found?  The Romance tells us life will flourish when we give it away in love and heroic sacrifice.  The Arrows tell us we must arrange for what little life there may be, manipulating our world and all the while, watching our backs.

The only way seems to be to kill our longing for the Romance, much in the same way we harden our heart to someone who hurts us.  If I don’t want so much, we believe, I won’t be so vulnerable.  Instead of dealing with the arrows, we silence the longing.  It seems to be our only hope.  And so we lose heart.

Do you see the tug of war between the two?  Have you felt it?

Have you felt this longing for “more” and yet your heart won’t let you go there?  Can you feel where you’ve walled your heart off?  There is a wound there behind that wall.  Go find it.  Deal with it.  He came to set your captive heart (behind that concrete wall) free!

The Wound (2)

The lingering impact of your wounds requires something powerful to deal with it.  It’s a brutal world and the wounds come.  Psalm 147 – “The Lord heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  You will take many wounds in this life but the defining wounds tend to come young.  Some come obviously, some quietly.  But they come.  They seem to have a pattern to them, a theme.

John’s story – his Dad gets taken out by alcohol and John turned to his girlfriend.  She felt like life.  Young, pretty, full of energy, from an intact home.  It was great.  And then, one day, she broke up with him.  Gone.  Abandonment.  Alone again.  He spent his summers at his grandfather’s ranch in Oregon – horses, initiation, tractors, his granddad teaching him things and he adored John.  And then, brain cancer and he was dead in six months.  Third person gone.  His wounds carried the same message, “You’re on your own.  Don’t trust or need anyone ever again.”

What you need to know is these wounds you have, they mattered.  They shaped you.  “I’ve got to succeed” or desperately needing other’s approval or “I must come through” – the wounds shape us.  All of our addictions – the need for sex, need for attention, success, to be in charge, money, drugs, booze … all of it – it’s not about the addictions, they are never the issue.  The issue is you’re medicating a wound.  There’s a wounded heart in there and you’re doing whatever you can to numb it.  You can be a Christian, driven angry guy – or – a Christian, checked-out, passive, shut down guy.  Down in there is a wounded heart and the addictions are just adding to the mess.

We men famously mishandle our wounds. Ask a man about his wounds and he’ll deny it, minimize it, “it was years ago and I’m past that now”.  Really?  “Sure it was abusive in my home but I don’t think it shaped me, I’m past it.”  Really?  We’ll either deny it or minimize it – or – we’ll embrace it as our identity “I am the seagull” or “I am an idiot” or “I’m alone” or “I’ll never be successful” or “I can never be loved”.  We’re living out an identity someone else gave us.  That’ll never heal it.

God has to sneak up on us.  He’ll dismantle the false self.  You construct this false world to insulate you from the pain and the most merciful thing God can do is break it.  The worst thing is when our sin works for us – when the false self works for you, you’ll live that way forever.  God will come after that false self with some form of disruption to get to your buried, shut down heart.  He’ll even allow you to be wounded again in the place of your deepest hurt if that is what it takes.

Do you know your wound? Can you name the way your heart was wounded?  Do you know the message of your wound?  What was your Dad’s message to you?  Dig into these.  Get alone with God and ask Him.  Go to the pain.

The yearning of your father’s love – you can never get enough of this.  The belovedness, the adoration, the delight.  Did you get that?  Did you get his validation through word and experience – a process of learning where he showed you and then cheered you on as you did it yourself?  Did you get that?  Push into this.  It takes bravery to drop the pose and face this pain.  All of the strength you want in this life comes from the healing and restoration of your heart.

Your real convictions are deep down in your heart.  Isaiah 61 – “I’ve come to heal the brokenhearted and to set the captives free.”  Jesus is relentless in His pursuit of your heart.  He drives at it, pushes, striving to rescue your heart – to restore us to His side and to restore us as men.  He stands at the door and knocks.  If any man opens the door, Jesus will come in.  Step one of healing your broken heart is to admit it, name it and then to open these places to Jesus and give him access and permission to go there so He can break those agreements you’ve made with the pain.

We’ve all taken arrows in life.  The question is, “What have you done with those arrows?”  What message have you agreed with?  What walls and barriers have your created in your pose to protect your heart?  There is great freedom in “going to the pain” and facing these hurts you’ve stuffed down.  They mattered.  They shaped your life.  It’s time to free the prisoner (your heart) from the concrete walls of your pose or the façade you present others and invite Jesus there to heal the brokenhearted.  Are you willing?


Wounds – are you willing to “go to the pain”?

Disney’s The Kid.  We see Russell Duritz.  He crucifies people.  Leaves wreckage behind.  He is a heartless man.  What is wrong with him?  What’s his story?  “What have I become?  How did this happen to me?”  Have you ever felt that way about yourself?  Ever wondered how you got this way?

Where along the way did I lose heart?

The heart is the center of human personality.  Jesus wants your heart close to Him.  The heart is the center of the action.  “It is wicked” – yes, no doubt … before Jesus gets a hold of it.  Acts 15:9 “God purified the heart”.  Matthew 13 – the parable of the sower – “The seed that fell on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart.”  As a believer in Christ, you have a new heart, a good heart.  We no longer want to sin.  That isn’t our desire.  We still sin but our heart doesn’t want to go there.  Christ has removed your heart of stone and given you a heart of flesh.  It is your heart that Jesus came to rescue and restore.

Through our wounds and our pain, many of us have hardened our heart.  That’s what we see in Russell Duritz – he’s a jerk and runs over people and hasn’t shed a tear since his 8th birthday.  His heart is hard.  And this happens to all of us – this is a brutal world for the heart.  And we find ourselves not being the man we wanted to be.  Feeling our future is uncertain, fear compels us.  That’s where the perfection comes from.  It’s where our emotional distance comes from.  Our drivenness.  The anger is rooted deeply in … the heart.

John shared his story.  Working in Washington DC.  Driven man.  Crisp.  Sharp.  Intense.  Untouchable.  Angry.  Lead, follow or get out of the way.  Brutal perfectionist.  Began to notice that he didn’t have any close friends.  That his anger was just beneath the surface.  No real interest in God the Father.  No interest in “Father”.  Jesus yes but not the Father.  Uncomfortable around men.  His anger would especially come out around older men – particularly older men above him that weren’t leading well.  Married but totally emotionally distant from his wife.  Affair with his work.  Consumed with fear.  “Life is up to me.” 

Finally he had to deal with it and had a counselor go deep with him to figure out where all this was coming from.  He dug into his story.  He had a great few  years with his Dad, traveling with him, camping and fishing all the time and then his Dad fell into alcoholism and he disappeared.  No Dad.  He didn’t know how to handle it or interpret it.  “I must not be worth fighting for.”  The camping trips ended, fishing trips ended.  Family blew apart.  John started acting out, rebelling, getting in trouble, arrested.  It was a cry of “engage with me, rescue me”.  In John’s wounded-ness he made the agreement, “I’m on my own.  I’ll never need anyone.”

The arrow pierced his heart and rather than asking God to heal it, he just shoved it in deeper.  “I can live heartless. Fine.  Who needs a heart?”  He became driven and emotionless.  Do you now see how he became this driven, emotionless, angry man who didn’t trust older men?

The core question of a man of “Do I have what it takes?”  Our wounds tell us “no” via the silence.  The question has never been answered and so we’re haunted by the doubt that “I’m not”.  In The Kid, we think Russell is just a jerk and then we hear his story.  There’s always a story.  Always a story.  Beneath every posing man is a wounded boy.  This is a brutal world on a boy’s heart.

The Father/Son relationship is the primary relationship in this world.  Every boy needs to know that – 1) his father adores him – and – 2) have the core question answered of “Do I have what it takes?”  Even Jesus needed these.

Dad has the power to bless by giving his son these and he has the power to cripple a boy by withholding them.  How about you?  Did your Dad do these things for you?  Do you see how if you didn’t get this foundation from him how it could have shaped your personality today?  This isn’t an exercise to go and blame our Dad’s.  No, this is an effort to find the pain.  Many of us will rewind the tapes of our lives only back so far – maybe to college or when we got married and we haven’t been willing to go back to the things that shaped us as kids.  That is where we need to go to ask Jesus into those places so He can heal them and you can be restored.

Are you willing to talk about it?  Are you willing to go to the pain?