Canaan’s Rest represents a quiet place “set apart” for the purpose of hearing God's voice, growing in intimacy with the Lord, and being renewed in soul and spirit.

Month: April 2014

The Man Box

I recently came across a new term related to men in our culture.  It is called the “man box.”  “In the absence of emotional authenticity, American men become homogeneous in their expression of self.  This encourages their location, willingly or otherwise, in what many writers have come to call the Man Box.  The Man Box is a set of rigid expectations that define what a ‘real man.'”  Basically it is a “rambo”  type man who is self sufficient, expressed in a guise of competency.

But the Man Box exposes the  incompetency of men in relationships.  Asking another man to “please be my friend” represents a social risk of failure because men have given little attention to cultivating this kind of interpersonal risk taking.  “It creates a moment of uncertainty that is agonizing for men.  To ask for friendship suggests vulnerability, flexible social standing or even willingness to admit need.”  Most of these values are in short supply in typical male relationships.

Men, I can not stress the importance of “male bonding.”  I can speak from personal experience working with men for many years.  I only wish I would have opened my heart to other men sooner.  Even though I am a “heart” type of guy (ENFJ – Myers- Briggs) I was well into my fifties before I opened up with other guys.  I spent a lot of years protecting my wounded, fearful heart.   My biggest learning was this: When I experienced other men loving me for who I really was, it gave me a heart that could finally open up to the love of God.   Praise God!!!

Find a group of guys that are committed to “soul talk.”  Or find another brother who is willing to risk talking about the pain in his heart.  Remember, men move in “circles of competence.”  Social risk making is not rewarded.  But living  risk free has it price.  Men are left feeling disconnected, hidden or unfulfilled.  Communication with our wives and children will be hindered.  Being a husband and dad requires vulnerability and transparency, not competence and and knowing the answers.  At home the “fix-it” mentality will not heal family wounds or resolve family secrets.

Men, we need to embrace the “uncertainty” of connecting at the soul level with other guys.  This is where we learn to relate emotionally as men.   It is in these conversations that we learn  to be honest and authentic.  We are being real rather than competent.  Uncertainty in relationships takes courage, because there is risk involved.  Remember without risk, there will be little relational growth.  Find a group of guys that are willing to share their secrets, rather than their successes.  “Does anyone bring a lamp home and put it under a washtub or beneath the bed?  Don’t you put it up on a table or on the mantel?  We’re not keeping secrets, we’re telling them: we’re not hiding things, we’re bringing them out into the open” (Mark 4:21-22 – The Message).


The Mark of a Man

In Luke 21, Jesus is talking about the future when he says, “They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be  brought  before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.  And so you will bear testimony to me” (v. 12-13).  Could the time come when men of God will be called upon to testify in difficult times?   To name the name of Jesus in our day is much more risky than just ten years ago.  How will you respond in adversity?  Consider the number of times Jesus warned his followers about being “hated.”

The following definition of the masculinity came to mind, when I ponder being a godly man in our culture.  “The power to honor the truth – to speak it and be it – is at the heart of true masculinity.” (Leanne Payne).  Truth is hard to come by in our Post-modern age, when our culture has accepted the proposition that truth is relative.   Paul warned us, “You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food – catchy opinions that tickle their fancy.  They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages” (II Tim 2:3-4 – The Message).

I am personally grieved at the manner in which “church people” are being blinded to the truth.  A cloud of deception seems to  prevent many from seeing what is happening in our culture.  I sometimes feel like a “watchmen on the walls” wanting to cry out,  “Don’t you see what is on the horizon.”  Jesus warned of this when He quoted Isaiah: “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.  For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes” (Matt 13:14-15).

Men, I trust that you want to be a “truth-teller” in our culture.   The true masculine expression will honor the truth. Godly men will not only speak truthfully but also live by the truth   Our intention and commitment must be settled. We will live by the truth, no matter what. So what does that look like?

This is how I see it for my own life.  First, acceptance of Scripture as the expression of “objective reality.”  This is how reality works.  Secondly, to be a humble, loving follower of the truth.  This means allowing Jesus to transform my life from the inside out.  No secrets.  Thirdly, desire to live a life of integrity.  Head and heart flow together.  Fourthly, to live an authentic life.  What you see is the real me.  Fifthly, admit  and confess when I have failed to live up to the truth. “Lord, help me to be an honest man in all areas of my life.”

Finally, remember the wonderful promise of Jesus: “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure.  Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you” (John 8:32 – The Message).  Truth will free you from that self-enclosed, dark, fearful, insecure, lonely hiding place within, bringing you into the light, allowing you to live freely.

Honor Your Fathers

Another subject that came up at our recent “Wildman” Saturday was the relationship with our fathers.  Some still had dads alive, while others had lost their dads.  When men get honest about their past unresolved pain, the subject often turns to our fathers.  So we talked about the struggle of “honoring” our fathers, even though the relationship might not have been that great.

As most of you probably know the command to honor father and mother is the only commandment with a promise.  We read in Deut. 5:16, “Honor your father and mother, as the Lord your God has commanded, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”  To dishonor our father will cause our life not to “go well.”  We will sow  the bad seeds of resentment  planted in our soul, producing bad fruit in our relationships, especially at home.  Mark it down – it is a spiritual principle.  How do you react when your wife says, “you are just like your father?”

Years ago I learned a valuable lesson in the honoring of my father from John and Paula Sandford  through their ministry of inner healing.  They called Prov 20:20 their “20/20 vision” scripture.  ‘”If a man curses his father and mother, his lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness.”  What I learned was this:  “That single fifth commandment is a description in all human life of the way reality works. In every area consciously or unconsciously that we judged or dishonored our parents, in that very area life will not go well with us.”  I learned to forgive my Dad, let him go, love him and honor him, without any expectations, because of this commandment.

I know in this short blog I may be opening up a “can of worms” for some men.  But my point is this.  Take the commandment to heart.  If you are not honoring your Father, begin to do so.  It will take some soul work.  Begin by being honest about any anger or bitterness you may harbor.  Ask God to soften your heart.  Talk to another brother about your struggle.  As you go through the process of forgiving and letting go, ask God for the strength and grace to “honor” your father.  My dad and I never had a close relationship.  He never dealt with his heart issues.  But because I went through the process of forgiving and letting go, I could honor my dad

Men, as a father it is important to model honoring your father.  You do not want to have “bad seeds” planted in your children that are a result of your bitterness and hurt.  I know I had to stop ‘bad seeds” from being planted in my family, because they are passed down to me by my father.  Men, you can stop the growth of these seeds by humbly coming to the cross, where you can confess your judgments on your father, thus laying down a heavy burden.  It will be a gift to your family.

Blessed Peter

During this Lenten season I have been reflecting on the passion of our Lord.  Peter keeps  coming to mind as I think of the men who read this blog.  Peter can be a great encouragement for us, when we fail our Lord. I consider Peter the Patron Saint of  a men’s “Soul Care” group. Peter was a “real guy.”  He was a rough, seasoned fishermen.  He was the outspoken leader of the 12 disciples.  After Pentecost he was the a leader in the early church.  Jesus called him a “rock.”  He said confidently to Jesus, “…I’m ready for anything with you.  I’d go to jail for you.  I’d die for you!” (The Message Luke 22:33).

But he denied Jesus  three times, just as Jesus had predicted.  The last denial was accompanied by a curse.  “Then he began to curse and swear, ‘I don’t know the man!'” (Matt 26:74).  Here is a manly man swearing that he know nothing of Jesus.  Wow.  What a fall.  Luke tells us that after the third denial, “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.” (22:60).  Imagine the pathos for Jesus and Peter’s utter failure. When Peter remembered  Jesus prediction we are told, “he went outside and wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:62).  Yet after the resurrection Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him.  Each time Peter said, “You know that I love you.”  This is the same man who denied Jesus only a few days prior.

Remember Jesus said this would happen.  Jesus has said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.  And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-2).  The enemy certainly tried to separate (sift) Peter from the Lord.  Jesus know this would happen.  So he tells Peter that he is praying for him.  Through this experience, Peter would be able to help others, because even in failure he experienced God’s love, not rejection.

So men, how do you see  yourself in the denial of Peter.  Here is my encouragement.  The focus of the story should be on Jesus’ relationship with Peter, not that of Peter.  Peter, blow it big time.  So will we.  We can say that it will not be so, but like Peter it will happen.  What Peter remembered through this sad story is the love Jesus had for him.  That is why Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him.  Peter could say Yes, because he know how much Jesus loved him.

So there you have it men.  Open your heart and soul to receive the great love God has for you.  Let it sink into your soul.  Bask in this love.  Know it is true.  Like Peter you will blow it.  When your spiritual eyes meet those of  Jesus, similar to that of Peter, what you will encounter are the eyes of loving kindness.  Jesus sees through your failure.  You are being shifted.  In the midst of your failure and recovery, don’t take your eyes of Jesus.  His love for you will overwhelm you with gratitude and thanksgiving.  I know this is true because I am “a beloved sinner” like Peter.

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