Fathered by God – The Lover

Stage starts in your teens and runs your whole life.  Comes in really strong in your 20’s and 30’s.  The girl awakens the lover heart in you.  You all remember this.  You remember when the girl first awakened something in you.  Here is a priceless clip from the Wonder Years that captures that moment we all experienced …

Haunted by her beauty – she represents “All the beauty that he longed for beyond the beauty that was in her”.  You see, Eve captures us but the inner longing is larger than her. The longing we have for beauty – yes, she can represent it – but there is more.

This stage is primarily about the awakened heart.  Most men hide in reason and analysis but the heart is where the action is. “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life”. This is so important because when the woman comes along, she will want access to your heart – not your reason and your analysis.  Your heart.  She is not a problem to be solved.  She doesn’t want to be fixed.  She is a mystery to be loved and enjoyed.

Our hearts are wounded at this stage often through experiences of rejection or abandonment where we come to resent the longings of beauty and love in our hearts.  Or … when we have sexual experiences too soon that go too deep and she breaks up with us and breaks our heart making it hard for us to then trust our heart to another woman.

When the heart gets shut down, we need to invite God in to father us and heal the wounded places.  And we need to go back into those old, broken relationships and break soul ties and ask the Father for forgiveness for our sin.

This whole stage of manhood is about finding an intimacy with God.  It is finding what makes you come alive – the oceans, mountains, water, woods.  Find what awakens your heart – the places that make you come alive and as you go there, you can feel the presence of God.  In these places, you realize God is bigger.  He has a much grander vision for you than just Eve.  She isn’t meant to be the “end all and be all” of your existence.  There is more…

Chapel

This is the crucial thing … How you pursue a woman’s heart is not to go and see what you can get but rather what strength you can give to her.  It is a shift from looking to “get” vs. a looking to “give”.  Most men don’t get this.  Our souls are created for beauty…to drink it in.  Beauty nourishes the soul.  God hardwired that in you.  The desire is innate.  It is Excurvatus Ex Se – a life lived outward instead of the Incurvatus – an inwardly focused life.

The rescue from the vicious cycle we typically fall in of “take, take, take” from her to get our validation – to – discovering there is something transcendent I am longing for that goes beyond Eve.  It comes from God.

Make no mistake, Eve is intoxicating.  “The naked woman’s body is too much of eternity for the eye of man to behold”.  She is amazing.  She is captivating.  She’s meant to be.  BUT we need something greater.  You need more than Eve.  God is the rescue from this.

As we spend time in those places outside Eve that restore us, we start to realize that God inhabits the beauty.  Fly fishing on the stream late into the day, drinking in the beauty.  It is beyond Eve.  He’s there in the sunsets, on the stream, at the beach, hiking the mountains. He’s there.  Those things you love, He’s there.

This is tough because Eve is available and present and within arm’s reach and it is easy for us men to believe “she’s enough”.  But the truth is, you can be embraced by something even more beautiful than Eve.  Really.  That is possible.  Yes, and in fact, it is even more loving than Eve.  Mercy.  Healing.  Comfort.  The Father brings all this.  Spending time with the Father in communion is healing.  You disentangle.  It is something that goes way beyond her.

When you realize that God can, in fact, provide for you in ways Eve can’t, it actually helps you love Eve better because you are no longer depending on her to come through as a fountain for you.

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Fathered by God – The Warrior

The Lord is a warrior.  A man wants to be something to be reckoned with – it is the heart of the warrior.

Everything you’re going to want in this life, you’re going to have to fight for.  Life is hard.  You were born into a world at war.  Your marriage, kids, jobs, dreams, extended family – you will have to fight for all of it.  It is opposed.  You are opposed.

The warrior heart is essential to overcome the passivity we all inherited from Adam.  Adam fell through passivity.  We need to overcome it.

We’re wounded in the warrior stage when we are taught as boys that all aggression is always wrong.  The stage is stifled when we have a passive father.  We are wounded when we try to rise up and we’re beaten down i.e. facing down a bully and losing.

The good news is that God wants to restore the warrior in us.  He allows hardships, trials, difficulties to come our way not because He’s abandoned us or is cruel but because He’s trying to teach us and train us.  When you see the passivity creeping in on you – choose against it.  Say to yourself, “No, I will not go passive here. I will stand up. I will speak up”.  Every time you do, it strengthens you and you will feel like more of a man.  Overcome your fears, overcome your self-doubts.

The warrior heart is that inner resolve, that inner strength that says “I will yield to nothing”.

Most of our training comes in the spiritual realm – spiritual warfare.  Whatever comes at you, the accusations, discouragement, assault…the warrior rises up in you and you say “No” – shut it down by the authority given to you by Christ.

Our tendency is to either go passive or take on too much.  “I must take this on to show I’ve got what it takes” and you take on way too much – or — the fear “I can’t take this on.  I’m afraid I don’t have what it takes.”  For all of us, in the crucial moment, when the battle is fierce, that question will always arise “Do I have what it takes?”

The enemy wants to shut down the warrior heart – through passivity, fear, shame, humiliation or defeat.

Stay in the battle, regardless of how it turns out.  (Think of fighting for your wife)  That is the heart of the warrior.

Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt became an American symbol of the “strenuous life” – one of his favorite phrases.  He believed in hard work, in pushing the body, in living on the aggressive, muscular, energetic side of life.  He worried that his generation of men were going soft and that the body would rob the mind and then the manhood of the nation.  He was right to be concerned.  We should be terrified of this today.

He didn’t start out like this.  Born into a wealthy family, he was a sickly child with severe asthma.  He was intellectual with a fierce curiosity and zeal for investigating life, but his body failed him.  Exertions brought on breathlessness which left him weak and bedridden.  Even when he paced himself, he quickly ran out of energy.  He seemed doomed to a nearly housebound life.  His father finally intervened and sat him down and said, “Theodore, you have the mind, but you have not the body, and without the help of the body, the mind cannot go as far as it should.  You must make your own body.  It is hard drudgery to make one’s body, but I know you will do it.” 

It was a turning point.  What boy wishes to disappoint his father?  What boy does not take to heart his father’s solution to a life-altering challenge?  A family member who watched the conversation later said that young Theodore, “the sorry little specimen”, looked up at his father, “threw his head back and declared he would do it”.  He devoted himself completely to the challenge.  He lifted weights, hammered away at a punching bag, swung dumbbells and spent hours grunting himself into position on the horizontal bars.  Years went by with little improvement.  Finally as a freshman in college, it started to take hold and Teddy experienced a “miraculous transformation”.  Those dreary years of exercise, hour after hour, made him into a man who knew the power of work, of will over body, and of the need for a man to live a strenuous life.

Later in life, he tragically lost his dear wife and his mother in one 24-hour period.  He was destroyed – “the light has gone out of my life” he would write.  He had a baby daughter he knew was in need a woman’s care and what he did next shocked the upper crust NY society but it completed the process of making him a heroic man.  He handed his beloved daughter to his sister, sold nearly everything he had, and moved to the Dakota territories, where for several years, he had been investing in a cattle ranch that overlooked a bend in the Missouri River.  He remained there for three years.

Why did he go?  Why such a dramatic move?  The answer seems to be that Roosevelt needed to restore and rebuild and he knew only one way to do it: return to the strenuous and the difficult.  Perhaps those hours of lifting weights and balancing on horizontal bars had surfaced forces of soul he needed to summon once again.  Perhaps a return to the arduous physical life was the only way he knew to quell the turmoil of his heart.  Obviously, he needed space, wilderness, difficult tasks, and looming danger.  He knew this was the key to healing.  He had experienced this truth in his life before.

After arriving in the Dakotas, Roosevelt did not spend three years in a comfortable chair by the fire with a brandy in one hand and a book in the other.  Instead, he became the western hero of his dreams.  He herded cattle and broke bucking horses.  He stood down grizzlies and fought off desperados.  On one occasion, he tracked down thieves for three days across 300 miles in subzero temperatures.  Once he took the criminals captive, he then traveled another six days and 150 miles to surrender them to authorities.  And the wilderness healed him.  He tamed the wilderness around him by way of taming the wilderness of his own soul.  He grieved and got through it.  He lived in the moment, in the physical, and in intimate connection with nature.  It forced him from living entirely in his thoughts to living a rooted, earthy life in which thoughts come only after work is done.

All men need what Roosevelt found – a strenuous physical life, the possibility of harm, challenges to face, enemies to oppose, land to conquer.  Our lives push us away from this.  We work in cubicles or comfortable vehicles.  Technology serves us and keeps us from exertion.  We live in opulent blandness – overfed, over-tended, over-entertained, and overly preoccupied with ourselves.  But men need aggressive, physical lives.  They need contest and conquest, strain and struggle.  Otherwise, we lose ourselves to softness and effeminacy.  It is not much of a surprise that a New Testament world that is translated effeminate from the original Greek actually means “soft through luxury”.  It is a warning. 

Roosevelt reminds us we are not disembodied spirits.  We are souls sealed into bodies.  We need to work the machinery, be alive in both body and soul.  It will awaken the masculinity in us.  It will help us untangle our inner knots.  It will remind us we are men.   (from the book Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men)

Fathered by God (3) – The Cowboy

About age 13, the question arises and it is “the” question of the masculine journey – “Do I have what it takes? Am I a man?”  It defines our life as men.  We get it answered through older men in their affirmation, validation and initiation through experiences in adventure and hard work.  Like when your Dad or Granddad tasks you to do something for the first time by yourself and you think “Wow, he thinks I’ve got what it takes and he thinks I can do this.”

The heart of the cowboy is wounded at this stage when he doesn’t have any of these experiences – when he never ventures out, never takes risks and never has those experiences that test him.  Or it is wounded when he does and he has failures and his Dad labels him – “you’re a Mama’s boy” or “You’re an idiot” or a “whimp”.

Teddy Roosevelt knew he was an unfinished man and so he put himself into hard places, learned to hunt, took on hard work with his hands and tools = he went into that unfathered place and got it.

So the encouragement to you is to fix things at your home.  Fix the broken sprinkler.  Fix the busted door.  Go to Home Depot, ask for help, watch youtube videos, figure it out and then do it.  Don’t just call someone.

Without these experiences, we become men who won’t take risks, who are hesitant, soft, stay in areas where we feel safe.  It’s wrong to let a man stay on the couch or the boy to stay in front of the video game.  Seek adventure with other men.  Your heart loves being a part of something and being invited up into something big.

The risk is that you find something you’re good at and you lock onto it.  Work.  It’s safe.   I can do it.  “I can do my job” and so you go there. All your energy is poured into work and you disengage from the rest of life.  Work becomes your life.  You don’t need to take risks, work justifies you.  It justifies a small existence.  And so everything else in his life suffers because work is his life.  The contra is true as well – that we can become adventure junkies and just spend our lives seeking the next, greatest adventure.  And that’s a small life too because where is the wife?  Where is the investment in the kids?  Where is community?  We must seek an appropriate balance here.

If you’ve missed this as a man – go get it.  It’s there.  God can take you there.  You can learn to hunt or to fix a lawnmower or build a table. It’s never too late.  You can pick up deer hunting at age 40.  You can learn to fish at 50.  You can learn woodworking or plant a vegetable garden.  You can hike the Appalachian Trail.  It doesn’t have to be outdoors – though we suggest that because there is something about nature that tests us – adventure can be starting a new ministry, working at a food bank or starting a small group of men.   The point is, adventure is just beyond your comfort zone.  Will you take the step?

It seems like God allows hardships in our lives because there is something He wants to surface.  It’s one thing to be told you have what it takes, it’s quite another to be tested and see there is actually a resolve in you that rises up in the face of adversity.

So the question for you today is “At what point in your life do you find adventure?”  Where is it?  Are you living any adventure?

Fathered by God (2)

Boyhood is designed to be a time of exploration and wonder made safe by a good and loving father.  If that was “well done” by your dad, you felt the delight of fathering – of knowing you are the beloved son.  You were designed to hear it – you needed to hear it.  The boy needs an assurance that he is loved, prized and beloved.  Without it, he can feel abandoned.

The Prodigal Son, despite his desire to leave home and spend his inheritance, when he turned home he saw his father run to him and embrace him.  It is a message of “You matter to me.  I delight in you”.

We are wounded at this stage through experiences that tell him he is not the beloved son.  It is a passive father – who doesn’t say “I love you”, doesn’t hug, doesn’t show affection and who checks out emotionally, relationally and spiritually.  A young boy doesn’t know how to interpret that.  He gathers from it, “It must be my fault” or “What I do is never really good enough”.  Or it comes through a violent father – physical, verbal, sexual abuse.  The boy learns he is not safe and not adored.

We see wounded men at 30-40-50 – they crave attention or the story always has to be about them – or – they can’t move confidently into their world.  They are hesitant.  Fearful.  They seek love through chasing success, needing constant affirmation or fixating on sex.  None of that ever works.

We see that the way a man’s heart was handled as a boy has shaped him as a man today.

Most of us did not get that effectively from our earthly Dads but we can receive it daily from God.  Hearing that from God and knowing you are a son brings healing to your past and gives you this foundation you need so that you can move confidently into your world and into the masculine journey knowing you really are a son.

It’s crucial.

(From the book)  “You are the son of a kind, strong, and engaged Father, a Father wise enough to guide you in the Way, generous enough to provide for your journey, offering to walk with you every step.  This is perhaps the hardest thing for us to believe – really believe, down deep in our hearts, so that it changes us forever, changes the way we approach each day.  Of the thousands of conversations I’ve had with men over the years, in a counseling office or around a campfire, and of all the personal struggles that fill the pages of my own journals, I believe this is the core issue of our shared dilemma as men.  We just don’t believe it.  Our core assumptions about the world boil down to this: we are on our own to make life work.  We are not watched over.  We are not cared for.  When we are hit with a problem, we have to figure it out ourselves, or just take the hit.  If anything good is going to come our way, we’re the ones who are going to have to arrange for it.  Many of us have called upon God as Father, but, frankly, he doesn’t seem to have heard.  We’re not sure why.  Maybe we didn’t do it right.  Maybe he’s about more important matters.  Whatever the reason, our experience of this world has framed our approach to life.  We believe we are fatherless.

The enemy’s one central purpose is this – to separate us from the Father.  He uses neglect to whisper, “You see – no one cares.  You’re not worth caring about.”  He uses a sudden loss of innocence to whisper, “This is a dangerous world, and you are alone.  You’ve been abandoned.”  He uses assaults and abuses to scream at a boy, “This is all you are good for”.  And in this way, he makes it nearly impossible for us to know what Jesus knew, makes it so very, very hard to come home to the Father’s heart toward us.  The details of each story are unique to the boy, but the effect is always a wound in the soul, and with it separation from and suspicion of the Father.  It’s been very effective.”

How would you like to drive an M-1Abrams tank?

m1a1_abrams

Kerry Williams has arranged for a special event for Manschool men – the chance to spend a morning at Fort Benning driving M-1 Abrams tank simulators.  These are full motion simulators.  They are exact replicas of the actual M-1 driver’s compartment.  Each simulator will have an instructor who will put you through a class on tank driving.

This is a fantastic opportunity to spend the morning on base doing something incredibly cool as a Tribe.  After we are finished, the group will meet for lunch somewhere nearby.

We have room for up to 50 men on a first come, first serve basis.  The actual time of the class is 9am-12pm on Wednesday July 27th.  We will arrange for the schedule/carpool once we have the RSVP’s.  You’ll probably need to get to base around 7am to get through security, etc. but more details to come on this.

We won’t have manschool that Wednesday if a bunch of men take Kerry up on this opportunity but I’ll let you know that as we get closer.  If you want to do this and can get off work for a few hours, please RSVP right away so we can reserve your slot.  Comment below to book your spot ASAP.