will you care for your soul?

John Eldredge at BGS Intensive…

“There are very few “normal” days.  When I first open my eyes, if God gives me that, I can cry out, “Father.  Father.  Father”.    Dallas Willard.

The warfare today is astounding.  Satan has unleashed two things on the earth in recent years – death and hatred.  There is a spirit of death everywhere.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed but good people, young people, healthy people are dying all over the place.  Drug deaths.  Suicides.  Murder/suicide.  Random execution of law enforcement.  Church shootings.  Death everywhere.

Hatred – it’s everywhere.  Political hatred is at a new all-time high.  Rage everywhere.  Social media is infected with it.  Seemingly good people are suddenly at odds with one another with a burning hatred over differences of opinion.  It’s everywhere you look.

The stories you will hear at this camp will stagger you.  This is a dark, dark world and the war is raging.

(John didn’t say this – another man at camp shared it) … this quote of, “How much blood must the sword spill of your daughters before you will wake up and realize just how intense this war is?”

We must not kid ourselves about the intensity of the war that rages against us and our families.  Denial is not a good strategy.

If it brings life, they will gravitate to it.

If I don’t like the effect something is having on me, I’ll just walk out of the room.  My family knows this.  My sons do it.  When the conversation turns petty or negative or combative, we’ll just get up and walk out of the room.

Look for the things that bring you life – being outside, riding your bike, standing in the sun soaking up vitamin D.  Grab it.  In the chaotic, even 20 minutes away is a reset.

Your soul matters … immensely.  It is worth caring for and we are living at a completely insane pace.

Two things…

First – You should have a secret life that is fuel.  A flight back to the real.  Take a rock and a stick.  Hold them.  Feel it.  Loving the real, hating the fake.

Nationwide survey in 2001 – can’t imagine what this data is like today – but back in 2001, Americans spent 93% of their lives indoors.  We have no idea how damaging that is to the soul.  Artificial world.  Artificial light.  Artificial sound.  Artificial climate.

Embrace the practices that bring you back to the “real”.

Second – practice the fine art of engaging “Benevolent Detachment”. 

“Jesus, I give everyone and everything to you.  Release them.  All of them to you.  I pray the Cross of Christ between me and them.  Between their junk and me.  Allow it no place in my life.  Bless them.  Bless them Lord.  I release them to you.”

This is your mother in law.  Yes.  Your boss.  Your co-worker.  Your biggest client.  Your parents.

You have no idea how much you’re carrying out of a “good heart”.  Release all of them to Jesus.

Practices

Augustine said, “We must empty ourselves of all that is full so that we can be filled with everything that is empty.”

10am and 2pm every day, take a monastic minute.  A one-minute pause.  60 seconds.  Twice a day to give everyone and everything to Jesus.  Release all of it.

Care for your soul is first.  It’s primary.  It’s the first thing to go, the first thing you must get back.  CS Lewis said, “It all rushes at you like a pack of wild animals.”  Your first priority is to restore.

Allow the grace of transitions.  Don’t force your soul through traumatic situations, multiple gear changes.  Pause.  Breathe.  Do nothing.  Then go to the next thing.

Beauty is everywhere.  It heals.  It nourishes.  Take in daily beauty.  It is a reminder that everything is going to be OK.  Frost.  Sun through a window.  The sound of rain.  The key is to take it in, “I receive this beauty into my soul and allow it to nourish me.”

What are you doing with the assault on your attention?  It is ruthless.  Transformation takes place when we can look to God and receive God’s beauty.  It is a full-on fight for your attention.  Watching trauma on TV brings trauma into your soul.

The whole goal is union with God.  Union of being.  Life of God flowing into us.

___________ sucks life from me.                      Part with it.

___________ brings me life.                               Spend your time there.

Some things can be rescued.  Some can’t.

Some people can be rescued.  Some can’t

Discern the two.  Be tactical where you go and what you do.

Going from shallow soil to good soil, there are no short cuts.  But remember, “Those with good soil reap a return of 30x, 60x, 100x what was planted.”

How will you care for your soul this summer?

Manschool wrapped up for this “school year” today.  What a great year we’ve had.  We closed today with about 50 men present.  A strong finish to a blessed year of ministry.

Here are the slides from today which are a recap of all the territory we covered this spring >>>>   manschool 2019 Spring Final

I just got Ransomed Heart’s newsletter for May.  It is spot on what we’ve been talking about of late.  Here it is for your blessing …

ransomed heart

Dear Friends,

I hope I’m not too late.

This is my annual “sabbath” letter, more commonly remembered as my “What are you going to do for your soul this summer?” letter.

I’m guessing you’re making plans for the next several months, even if they are plans that you can’t make plans this year. And I’d like to step in as an advocate for your soul—which probably needs some advocating, if you’re like most adults. The pace of life, the constant demands, the drone of media coming our way make any kind of soul kindness hard to come by. Our lives are so full we lost track of our souls long ago.

Thus, my letter.

You have a soul. It is a lovely gift from God. Your soul is what enables you to enjoy your life. When you find yourself laughing at something in a carefree way, that’s your soul feeling happy. When you are moved deeply by someone else’s story, that’s your soul too. When beauty makes you worship, when stillness allows you to exhale deeply, that’s your soul doing well. Your soul is an extraordinary gift from God. And it needs some care.

As Jesus said, “What does a man have if he gets all the world and loses his own soul? What can a man give to buy back his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). You can lose your soul long before you die, by the way. It’s lost quite easily in the mad rush of life, the unrelenting pressure, hurry, worry, fear and lack of any real space to simply be human. 

So—what will you do this summer to be kind to your soul? Where is your sabbath this summer?

To clarify, family “visits” do not count as sabbath or soul care. I understand the need for family visits; they play an important role in our relational networks. But they are not sabbath, not even vacation, for the simple reason that they require from us. Often they require a great deal. When we enter into the gravitational field of family visits, we encounter all the dynamics of family ecosystems—everyone’s brokenness, their demands, their disappointments, and their warfare. It’s just the way it is in a broken world. I’m not disparaging family visits; I’m simply trying to point out that they do not qualify for sabbath in any form or fashion.

Notice—what’s the condition of your soul when you return from a week with the inlaws? Don’t you typically say to yourself, “I need a vacation?” And if you could choose between the obligatory family visit or two weeks in Tahiti, which does your heart leap at? Well…there ya go.

Banzai weekends also do not count for sabbath, vacation, or soul care. Rushing out the door to get to some destination where you go-go-go all weekend can be loads of fun, but again—notice the condition you’re in Monday morning when you return to work. You’re exhausted; you need caffeine to even keep going. 

You shall know them by their fruits.

Allow me a personal story. Last summer Jesus invited me to take a road trip with him. No agenda, no deadlines, no one to take care of, or come through for. I brought my fishing gear because I thought I would spend my days fly fishing and my evenings in leisurely time with God. As my soul began to enter rest, I realized that the adrenaline rush so central to fishing was not what I needed. My soul needed care, which meant it needed quiet. Ease. A very slow pace. I ended up hardly fishing at all, which at first was a disappointment, but by day three was a rescue. 

This is very simple really—sabbath makes you feel rested. It makes you feel renewed. It restores your soul, to quote the famous Psalm. 

Sabbath reconnects you to the God you love, and allows you time to linger with him unhurried. It also reconnects you with your own soul, allows you to feel, to think about stuff you normally don’t get to think about. By its nature, sabbath is not an adrenaline experience.

So—as you make your summer plans, when is your sabbath?

It doesn’t have to be that gorgeous cottage in Hawaii, or villa in Tuscany (which is good news). Sabbath is so much more available, attainable. It can be a choice to simply set aside evenings every week this summer, where all you do is sit on the porch and enjoy the sunset, let the breeze caress your face, do absolutely nothing at all. A friend has a hammock on her porch; she said to her husband, “I’m going to lie in the hammock and do nothing; I get to be human again.”

Sabbath can be long walks in your neighborhood, the park, or “open spaces” common now to most urban areas. (Notice I didn’t say a run or mountain bike ride, because sabbath has a nonchalant nature to it. It’s slow, kind, easy, simple. Sabbath walks let you notice flowers, birds, a stream—all the things we normally rush by.)

Nothing in this mad world is going to encourage you to plan, and protect sabbath. It’s something you’ll have to choose, and fight for. But it’s utterly worth it, I promise.

So—before you set this letter down and go on with the ten other things currently demanding your attention, stay with the question for sixty seconds—What will you do for sabbath this summer? Block it out on your calendar.

Offered in love,
 

John

Manschool wraps up this Wednesday

Please join us this Wednesday morning May 22nd as we wrap up the Spring session of Manschool and we break for the summer.

You’ll hear from Beau Hughes and his thoughts about the Become Good Soil intensive. We’ll go through some reminders of the ground we’ve covered this Spring.  It is amazing at how much territory we’ve covered.  We will also give you three things for your summer.

I think you will find this final session will be very encouraging.

the real you …

here are the slides from this morning … manschool 2019 15

iceberg

Believe it or not, this iceberg is you.  10% of you is visible above the surface.  It is what you’ll let us see.  The other 90%?  It’s hidden and you’ve developed an elaborate system to keep it that way.  That’s your pose.  It’s the image you’ve created that you want us to see but the real you is below the surface.  That’s where God wants to go.

The pose works for only so long.  Throw a good storm into your life and the pose is quickly exposed.  Your wife is very good about tweaking you just enough to peel it back and expose the false self.  A true, good friend can do the same thing.

Lately, we’ve been talking about Soul Care and I believe one of the kindest things you can do for your soul is to face and expose your pose and to reject the false self you’ve created and live out of.

I will tell you that it was hard to give this talk this morning.  The deeper we got into it, the more I sensed the audience checking out.  In the last five minutes, 6-7 men had their phones out and were checking email.  That tells me something.  Brushing up against the pose is just enough to turn some men away … “it’s too much to think about” or “this isn’t for me” or “I don’t have time for this” is usually the reaction.

Plus, there is the “swamp thing” going on.  We’re so deeply into swamp of our lives that pulling out to address something like our pose seems too invasive.  We’re barely making it as we trudge our way through the swamp and so, to open the hood and do some heavy lifting seems like it might drown us.

It won’t.  It just might save you.  This is where God wants to work.  He doesn’t want to deal with your pose – it’s fake after all.  He wants the real and He wants to pursue the real you underneath your mask.  Brene Brown summed it up nicely …

“Our “masks” and “armor” are perfect metaphors for how we protect ourselves from the discomfort of vulnerability.  Masks make us feel safer even when they become suffocating.  Armor makes us feel stronger even when we grow weary from dragging all that extra weight around.  The irony is that when we’re standing across from someone who is hidden or shielded by masks and armor (The Poser), we feel frustrated and disconnected.  That’s the paradox here: Vulnerability is the last thing I want you to see in me, but it is the first thing I look for in you.” 

Craig McConnell said this about posing …

As long as the counterfeit, the posing works, we’ll never desire and pursue the authentic and real thing.  So, you know what God does for our redemption?  He disrupts our lives.  God either allows or orchestrates things to happen to expose us for us to see that we are living far less of a life as a man that we can be.

Exposure isn’t to shame us.  Exposure is to heal us and to drive us to something more.  It is to become true, more authentic, more real to be the man God desires us to be.

Life’s working good … why change? 

But then … God will disrupt things.  Shake us.  Rattle us.  Get us to realize, “My God, what have I become?  Am I just another shark in a suit?”

God takes us through these difficult, disruptive moments/events where we realize that this life, the way I’m living, who and what I am is not what I want.  It’s at that moment we get the invitation – there is another way, there is more.

Take some time to be alone with God to ask some pretty tough questions about yourself… 

How do you see yourself as a man?

What words would you use to describe yourself?  Would you use words like “courageous, strong, loving, passionate, genuine?”

What words would those who know you use to describe you?

Do you have the courage to ask those in your life what they think of you as a man?

What do you fear they would say?

What would you hate to hear?

What might be true of you from the eyes of others?

You can tell what kind of man you’ve got simply by nothing the impact he has on you.  When you’re in the presence of a man, does he bore you?  Does he scare you with whole doctrinal trip?  Does he make you want to scream because he’s just so very nice?

What do you think your impact is on others?

What’s the affect of your life on others?

What do you fear it might be?

We need to turn and say, “God I want the real thing”.  So, where is it that you’re faking?  Where is the counterfeit?  Identify that and then ask God to turn it, remove it.

What would that look like? 

Find a quiet place and go to God. 

What am I?  Who am I?  What am I like?

 

WHAT TO DO WITH THIS ?

Dan Troller asked me this morning how he should best push into this question of posing.  Great question.  Take these questions Craig asked one by one.  Get alone with your journal.  Ask the Father these questions and be candid in what you hear, what you’re sensing and feeling.  Write it down.  How do you see yourself as a man?  What would others say about you?  What do you fear they’d say?  Good, weighty questions.  Take them, wrestle with them.  Do the heavy lifting of being authentic with the questions.

Then, get with 2-3-4 men you trust (at least two) and be willing to share your revelations.  Let them hear your story, hear your answers to these questions and let them speak into what they see and hear about you.

Do you want the freedom on the other side of this?  Really? 

Then do the hard work of excavating beneath the surface.    

excavation