the true man …

Many of us have forgotten who we really are. Life comes at us hard and it can be a real battle. There is an enemy who fears what you could become and will do whatever he can to defeat you.

We all have identities – those put on us and those we have taken on such as “I am not enough” – or – “I’m not a real man” – or – “I’m a failure” – or – “I’ll always struggle with this” and we have learned to live from this identity.  

When we move into this process, we learn of the false self and poser for the first time and start looking below the surface at the 90%.  We’re asking, “Who have I become?” and “How have I constructed this fig leaf to self-protect?” and “What is it I am trying to protect?”

It is the process to letting God have access to all of you so He can begin the process of restoration.

God is after the restoration of your true identity.

The true man – is the kind of man who has nothing to hide, nothing to fear, and nothing to prove.  

What would it be like to live like this?  In our relationships, in our work, in the community, in the moments of decision when the stakes are high – what would it be like to have nothing to hide, nothing to fear and nothing to prove?  To just come and bring the real you, the true you?  Where you appear wanting nothing in return – no applause, no attention, no compliments and rather, to just offer a real strength and love to those in need.

This is what God is after in us for when we live through this trueness, our greatest work for the Kingdom is possible.

When I hide – or — when the shame of my past shuts me down – or — when my insecurity causes me to live as a poser, I cannot bring strength and love to my world.

When our souls become whole and, over time, we go through this metamorphosis into trueness, we are opened up to the greatest treasure given us by the heart of God: the restoration of our identity.

“We are built to count, as water is made to run downhill.  We are placed in a specific context to count in ways no one else does.  That is our destiny.”

Dallas Willard

God’s primary mission is our becoming, and He is making his intentions known to us through every whisper in every day.  God is pursuing you … daily.  Not the false you.  Not the poser.  He knows the true in you and He is after that daily.  Pursuing you.  Asking you to rely upon and trust in Him instead of your pose.  He sees the man in you who has nothing to hide, nothing to fear and nothing to prove and He wants to teach you how to live this way.

My question for you today is … have you forgotten who you are? We’ll talk more about this next week.

One of my most favorite devotionals is New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp. I encourage you to pick up a copy. Here we are this week talking about this topic and the devotional from 4/12 said this … “Who in the world do you think you are? I’m serious. Who do you think you are? You and I are always assigning to ourselves some kind of identity. And the things that you and I do are shaped by the identity that we have given ourselves. So it’s important to acknowledge that God has not just forgotten you (and that is a wonderful thing), but He has also given you and brand-new identity. If you’re God’s child, you are now a son of the King of Kings and Lord of lords. You are in the family of the Savior who is your friend and brother. You are the temple where the Spirit of God now lives. Yes, it really is true – you have been given a radical new identity.

The problem, sadly, is that many of us live in a constant, or at least a rather regular, state of identity amnesia. We forget who we are, and when we do, we begin to give way to doubt, fear, and timidity. Identity amnesia makes you feel poor when in fact you are rich. It makes you feel foolish when in fact you are in a personal relationship with the One who is wisdom. It makes you feel unable when in fact you have been blessed with strength. It makes you feel alone when in fact, since the Spirit lives inside of you, it is impossible for you to be alone. You feel unloved when in fact, as a child of the Heavenly Father, you have been graced with eternal love. You feel like you don’t measure up when in fact the Savior measured up on your behalf. Identity amnesia sucks the life out of your Christianity in the right here, right now moment in which all of us live.”

Have you forgotten who you are?

Oh, to be this man …

if you click on the link below, it will take you to Wild at Heart’s website. Scroll down to episode 2 “The Poser”. Watch it. Perhaps watch it a second time. Watch it with your wife and see what conversation comes to the surface. There is rich material in here …

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 who is always full of bluster, always has to speak, always has to be right. 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. 

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 the first 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 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?

to set the captives free …

a friend of mine posted this on his website ( a few days ago …

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the captives free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Okay, let’s skip past the baby in the manger with the kings, the livestock, etc. 

Where Jesus really shows up in the gospel narrative is when he announces his arrival.  He is a young man, likely early teens, and he is brought to the front of the synagogue to read from the ancient texts.  He “found” Isaiah 61 and reads.  

In summary he says:

“I have come to heal the brokenhearted and set the captives free.”

Then he rolls up the scroll, hands it to the attendant, and says, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”  Essentially, you have all been waiting for a messiah to appear and I am that guy.

What a triumphant and audacious arrival on the stage of humanity!  Way more powerful and defining than the felt board representations found in many a Sunday school class of a manger, farm animals, and three kings.  The birth obviously mattered.  It was an invasion of humanity and the beginning of the “setting everything right” that God intended through that life.  But the announcement of his arrival as appointed king – come on!  It stirs me every time I think of that scene.

That triumphant announcement of his arrival is bookmarked by an equally stunning exit.  Ascending into the clouds, leaving his students to teach all nations the gospel, granting them all the authority in heaven and earth within that authority he had been given, and providing them with the Holy Spirit as a guide to direct their every step.

That transcends every heroic knighting, ceremonial pinning, or appointing of anyone in any situation since.  What could be more profound than that?

You have been appointed.  

You have been equipped.  

You have been deputized in the most profound and aspirational way.  

And likely no one ever bothered to tell you about that heritage.  

That legacy, honor, privilege, and responsibility.  

That is what we are working to restore…and it changes everything.

Because we were appointed to be co-heirs of this Kingdom.  

We are to be the hands and feet of God.  

We were intended to be the generative governors (life-giving leaders) that care for and tend to everyone who resides in our small “k” kingdoms.  

We are to be good kings that use everything in our power and discretion for the good of everyone entrusted to our care.

Morgan will speak to us

As we take a deeper dive below the surface, much is being uncovered. God is coming after the hearts of men right before our eyes. More exciting things are happening now at Manschool than we’ve seen in years. God is moving.

Morgan Snyder is going to speak to us next week in a message specifically for our Tribe. How cool is that?

You don’t want to miss it.

Until then, keep after it. Keep asking “What are you up to in me in this Father? What are the layers I need to peel back and expose to your light? What wounds are you trying to heal?”

poser … exposed

Unless you slow and quiet your life down for a first-hand relationship with Jesus Christ, little change is possible.

can you even slow your life down? Is that even possible?

Pete Scazerro was leading an emerging church in Queens. Rapidly growing. He was working 6 1/2 days a week. His wife wasn’t happy. His children really didn’t know him. Deep inside, he began to sense this building anger and resentment – he knew he was becoming a jerk. A church split occurred and 200+ left for another new church. Pete raged internally at the Pastor that left and took this people with him. Eventually, his wife had enough and said to him, “Pete, your leadership stinks.  I don’t respect it.  You don’t have the courage to confront some of the people in the church who need to be confronted because you’re afraid if you do, they’ll leave.  So, I’m not going to sit here on the second row in what I know is a hypocrisy.  I’m going to leave and go to another church.” There you go. There is nothing like a wife to expose a man for who he truly is. Pete had a choice. He could keep running faster and maybe even work harder – or – he could slow down, stop and take a hard assessment of his life. Thankfully, he made the choice to stop and to begin the process of deconstructing his false self.

“Speed is the ultimate defense. The antidote to stopping and really looking. If we really saw what we were doing and who we had become, we feel we might not survive the stopping. So, we don’t stop and the faster we go, the harder it becomes to stop.”

Dan Allender

We move fast in part because we don’t want to take the time to see what is below the surface of our iceberg …

The false self is all about hiding that 90% of you that is below the surface. Your wife knows much of what is below the surface. Your kids know it. Some of your friends see it. And thus, they are the most prone to expose you. But for everyone else, you are highly sophisticated at posing. You work hard to present the false front that you want everyone else to see and the truth is, you can make life work in your pose.

God wants what is below the surface. The life you have that you think is working behind your pose truly isn’t working. If all you’re focused on is the 10% above the surface, that 10% is all you’re giving to God. God wants it all. God wants to break the poser and He wants to dismantle the false self you are operating in.

Will you consent? Will you stop? Will you listen?

the false self does not work…

My wife and I watched 20/20 Friday night.  There was a case they were covering back from mid-90’s.  The wife was on trial for her husband’s murder.  It was the first case to be covered from start to finish nationwide on CourtTV.  Cameras were all over the courtroom.  The wife’s lead attorney saw this as his big break.  Dressed in an expensive suit with gold cuff links, gold bracelet, and slicked back hair, he launched into his opening statement to the jury.  For 3 hours, the attorney talked about what a big deal this was for him, what a great opportunity it was, how he’d work his entire life for this moment.  3 hours!  The courtroom was dumbfounded, and the Judge commented at the end of the speech that in all his years, he’d never seen such an exhibition saying to him, “Opening remarks are your chance to tell the jury why your client is innocent and how it is you will lay out the case proving her innocence.  It is not a time for you to talk about yourself and what a big deal this is for your career.”  Weeks into the trial, realizing he was in over his head, he petitioned the court for a mistrial claiming he didn’t have time to adequately prepare.  The judge denied his motion, and, in the end, his client was convicted of murder.

The poser, the false self was exposed.

The false self took over and seized the opportunity to shine.  That man’s talents and abilities were supposed to be used for his client’s benefit.  He was hired to serve and work for his client.  Had he been operating out of his true self, the outcome could have been very different.  But the false self turned it into a time where he could get all the attention on national TV.  That he appeared talented was more important that what he could actually do. 

The false self has perhaps no better place to shine than in our relation to money. Money plays a huge role in the false self.  That we can use money – or the appearance we have money – to project an image we want others to see.  Money lures us as a way we can medicate our pain and hide our weaknesses.

Money is either going to be an idol we worship or an instrument we utilize.  It is easy to get to the place where we can have the assumption that everything is for our consumption.  That’s when money is an idol.  That everything is for me and my pleasure. Or living out of our true self, we can understand that everything is not for our consumption.  That by being generous, we can slay the beast of money from taking over our lives.

I would argue that much of what we do around money, around stuff, around a new car or a new toy is being decided through the filter of the false self.  That “I need this” or “I deserve this” or “I’ve worked hard for this”.  The root factor in all these is the false self.  The root in all of these is “I”.  The false self takes an instrument (money) and turns it into an idol.

The true self, the true man knows that abundance is not for his consumption.  He knows that money won’t prove anything to anyone.  Being rooted and grounded in who he is, he doesn’t need to project anything to the world about his business success or wealth.

Let’s look at the difference between the false self and the true self. Test yourself along the way. Where are you in these? Are you living/operating out of your false self?

“Mostly what you meet when you meet a man is his false self – his version of Adam’s fig leaf – behind which he hides from fear and attempts to avoid anything that generates the feeling of dread and death.  The false self can be understood to be the sophisticated construct developed out of separation from God to avoid pain and shame. 

We also build it to provide our identity, power and meaning.  It is a reaction to fear.  Ultimately, the false self attempts to disengage from authentic and loving relationship with others, with self and with God in order to self-protect.  Our false self provides the illusion that we can make life work apart from God.”

The brilliance of God’s design for masculine initiation is that the more we truly want life as it was meant to be, the less efficient the false self becomes in producing what feels like life.

As we said last week, you can navigate life pretty well out of the false self … for a period of time.  Eventually, it will catch up with you.  It’ll show up in how you relate to your children.  Or it will show up in a seething anger that is just below the surface.

For most of us, our wife best knows the false self.  She can call it out.  As men, we become very sophisticated in faking it in most relationships.  But thankfully, as we grow and move deeply into relationships such as marriage, the false self begins to get exposed.

Mike Mason said a wife is “wonderfully in the way, like a tree growing in the center of the living room.”

Nice.  The imagery of a tree growing in your living room is appropriate for just how easily Eve can expose you.

How I relate with other people, particularly those closest to me – especially my wife – is one of the greatest indicators of my spiritual maturity.

What is your impact on your wife and the other people closest to you?  Your son?  Your daughter?  You have a style and a way of relating.  How does that land on your wife?

becoming true…

“There are many men who think they want to be a matador, only to find themselves in the ring with 2,000 pounds of bull bearing down on them, and then discover that what they really wanted was to wear the tight pants and hear the crowd roar.”

We fear exposure and failure.  Afraid, I hide. A man is a caricature of masculinity.  A fig leaf.  A sophisticated pose having constructed a façade that protects him in a way and gains him some applause. It helps us avoid feeling exposed.   We all fear being found out.

Until those core questions in us – “Do I have what it takes?” and “Who am I really?” – until those are answered – by God – a man will live for his identity rather than from his identity.

Pause. Let that sink in. Do you live for your identity? Are you still seeking to manufacture your identity – what it is you want people to think when they see you? Are you seeking approval? Applause? To be noticed? Then you’re living for your identity.

This is the opposite of a man who lives from his identity. He knows who he is and whose he is. He doesn’t have to have your approval. He just “is”. There is a quiet comfort and strength in such a man. The applause of the crowd isn’t what he’s after, if anything, he seeks to avoid it. He knows he brings strength and a clarity of purpose. He knows he is a beloved son, fearfully and wonderfully made.

Please understand this — your masculine heart, the truest you, created in the image of God, is always … at every moment – being expressed and operating through either the true self or the false self.

The false self in you is the matador. You want the role. You want the applause of the crowd, the uniform, the reputation. Until that angry bull is standing across the ring from you. The man operating out of the false self wants you to think he’s got it all figured out.

The false self in every one of us is nearly perfected. We’ve figured out a way to make life “work” operating in our pose. But behind the scenes, our relationship with our children is broken. Our wife says we’re always angry. She can’t approach you with a question because you have perfected the art of deflection and turning it against her. “You don’t respect me” becomes a weapon.

Jesus wants this false self. He wants to put to death the false in you so He can bring forth life. The process of sanctification is God chipping away at your poser. Chipping away at that “chip” you have on your shoulder for all the ways you’ve been wronged by life. God wants the real you, the true you. The man that no longer has to pose and that will trust God with his heart and that will know, “In you LORD, I am enough. You tell me “I can” and you push out the shame and the fear. I want to rest in you.”

There is much more we will unpack on this in coming weeks.

will you live as a son?

“and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”. 

Matthew 3:17

In chapter 2 of Becoming a King, Morgan challenges us with this … Even Jesus needed the validation of His Father. His Father’s constant validation was a holy reservoir from which Jesus drew strength for the rest of His days.

What would it be like, deep in your masculine soul, to live in an atmosphere of abundance as a beloved son of the Most High? To live with an abiding expectation of goodness now and goodness around the corner? To know a profound sense of robust well-being, a sense of being provided for, protected, and fed?

To experience a union with God that nothing could dissolve.

Imagine what it would be like to receive that validation from the Father, to have that reservoir from which to drink daily.  To be integrated in your masculine soul.  To live in ever-increasing union with the Father.

I suggest to you that it is available.  And I submit that this reunion with our Father is the primary work God is up to in your life and mine.

So often we are caught up in the regrets of the past or the worries over our future.  In so doing, we become what AW Tozer called “a practical atheist” – believing God exists in the past and in the future, but for all practical purposes that a genuine reality of and connecting with God doesn’t exist.

Too many of us have bought the lie of the enemy regarding our fatherlessness –

“I must be the strongest man in my world”

“If anything good is going to happen, I’m going to have to make it happen”

“Life is up to me”

“I’m on my own”

“Why does this always happen to me?”

Have you noticed how quickly these sentences pop up in our mind if we are willing to listen?  Agreements with lies bubbling up from the orphan within us? 

Do you see the layers of fatherlessness being expressed from deep in the soul?

To recover this – to become a son – we have to make a choice.

Are you willing to open your heart and unlearn the Father as you have learned Him –- that he is distant and uninterested or that He is harsh and disappointed in you — and instead learn him as He truly is?

We must choose a spirit of sonship.  It is turning of our souls to receive the lavish love of the Father.  It is hard to do because it will require you to forsake the other places where our wounded hearts have sought independence and a self-sufficient life – the patterns of behavior you’ve relied upon to make life work.  It is your pose.  (We’ll talk more about this next week)

“Since you are the sons of God, we must become the sons of God.”

George McDonald

The invitation is here. Will you continue to live as an orphan? Will you rely upon your pose, your false-self to fake your way through life as a man who “has it all together”? Or, will you surrender that and step into the radical acceptance that you ARE indeed a son of God … and boldly live that way?

Watch this video from Les Miserables.  Jean Val Jean is a criminal.  He stole bread and served 17 years in hard labor.  He’s out now on parole.  Someone sends him to a door of a house.  It is the Bishop’s house.  At the door, Jean Val Jean shows his yellow paper and announces he is a screw up, a criminal.  A wreck.  He tells him, “I’m dangerous.  I can’t read but it is yellow, and I know what it says.  It says I am bad”.

The Bishop tells him “I know who you are” and welcomes him in.  He feeds Jean Val Jean and gives him a warm bed to sleep in.  Jean does what he knows, and he steals from the Bishop.

God shows up and redeems Jean Val Jean and pays the full price.  He sets him free to become a new man saying, “I have ransomed you”.

This man is you and I. We have attempted to do life on our own. Exhausted in our shame and failure, the LORD welcomes us in, feeds us and gives us a place of rest. He tells us He knows who we are at our deepest core – not a criminal, or bad, or a screw up but a beloved son. That everything HE has … is for us. He then turns it back on us and calls us to cease living from a place of fear and hatred and to instead live as a beloved son.

Will you live?

God speaking to you

How is your heart?

Manschool resumed today with about 35 men in attendance. Welcome back to some of you and we were glad to have few newcomers.

We will resume working through book Becoming a King in a couple of weeks. This week and next, we’re going to be talking about 2020 and the impact it had on us as men. We will have more to say on this next week but suffice to say, you have been through a TON as a man over the past 9-10 months. Job insecurity, fear over the virus, loss of loved ones, economic panics, racial tensions, the insanity of the election and more. Any one of those would be enough trauma but we’ve endured all of them.

What does that do to a man’s heart? What do you do with it? How do you cope?

We’ll press into this over the next two weeks. Until then, I encourage you to do some homework. Listen to the attached podcast from Wild at Heart. It goes right at this very issue in a powerful, transparent, frank way…

Proverbs 4:23 – “Above all else, guard your heart for from it flow the springs of life…”

Guard your heart. My heart took a beating in 2020. The temptation is to go to resignation – that spirit of “I just give up” – or to go to comfort, or zone out on Netflix, or give into the tyranny of 24/7 news and picking sides, etc. All of these are deadly for a heart that is already beaten up.

It is time to do a check-up on your heart. Be honest with these questions posed in the podcast and ask God to show you. Join us next week.

I’ve quit going to church but I miss Manschool.

It has been a tough year in our country and in the church at large. Attendance at churches nationwide is way down. Small groups have formed. New churches are forming. Lots of folks are watching church on YouTube and enjoy the experience. Some divisions have formed. Disagreements over masks, over politics, over policies. Some of it hasn’t been nice. Some of it has been painful and destructive.

The enemy is at work. Make no mistake.

A number of men have quit coming to Manschool because they have left Christ Community. Let’s just get that out there and say it. Manschool is not just for Christ Community. Manschool is for men. All men – all vocations, all colors, all denominations, all seeking the “more”. Several of our most regular attendees have never been to church at Christ Community. Amen. Yes!

A number of the men who’ve quit attending church at CCC have told me, “I miss Manschool”. That, my friend, can be easily fixed … COME BACK.

The doors are open. Men are welcome. If you have left CCC and even if you left over a disagreement, I want you to come back to Manschool. Stepping back into that room can lead to healing of those disagreements. I want you to know that we want you back at Manschool and odds are, you need to be back. You need Tribe.

You need to know you are missed because YOU matter.

Listen to this. Morgan Snyder’s newest podcast featured a counselor and towards the very end, he read this incredibly compelling story about stepping into a house and meeting Jesus and the Spirit. Hear these words. I almost came to tears listening because this is EXACTLY how I feel at Manschool …

You see lights up ahead that are windows in a cabin. Your guide leads you to the door where you remove your shoes and the guide says, “before you open the door, you must understand what this cabin is. It is your heart. When you step inside, you will see and feel the things in your heart openly and you will have awareness of your deepest longing. While there, you won’t be able to lie or pretend because that is only possible outside your heart.” So you open the door. You step inside with your guide and you see it is filled with people for whom you have love and are either in your life now or have been in your life in the past. You look around and you feel the warmth in this room. You see their faces. Look around and notice who is here…

These people have been there for you for maybe a while or maybe just a short time but you have grown in relationship with them. You find your heart brimming over with love and appreciation for the people in this room. In this room, you find a sense of stability and strength because these people encourage you to be the person you are and encourage you to become a better person.