Well, I just can’t resist myself during “March Madness.”  I have to write at least one more blog about this time of year, when basketball fans get into the madness.  I know I take more time then usual to watch games.  I find it very exciting to watch the competitive nature of these young men.  They will never forget this experience.  I know I will never forget the thrill of my high school ( Negaunee) winning the Class B state championship of Michigan back in 1957.  You never forget the thrill.  But today I want to share a few reflections on the Dove Men’s Care ads.  The various basketball personalities are talking about being “comfortable in their own skin.”  Of course,  my favorite  is Tom Izzo.  He and I talk alike.  We are both UPers.

First the symbolism of the dove.  In scripture the Holy Spirit is represented by a dove.  Listen to Matthew 3:16-17, “At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.  And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'”  I am fascinated with men being associated with a dove.  The symbolism could not be more relevant for men and their presonal struggle for identity today.   A man’s true male identity is affirmed when He hears his Father in heaven declare that he is “the beloved.”  Romans 8:16 tells us, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”  I would say biblically for a man to be truly comfortable in his own skin, he needs to have the assurance and confidence that his heavenly Father loves him.

But for a man to be comfortable in his own skin spiritually, he has to be honest about who he really is.  This was a difficult hurdle for me as a man.  I hit the wall in my late 40’s.  There was a lot that I did not like about myself.  It was my “shadow self,” that part of me that I was ashamed of and did not want other to see, especially as I was spending all my time trying to be a “good, caring and helpful pastor.”  It was a real trap.  I would try harder and often feel worse.  I was not comfortable in my own skin.  I was “posing” as a Christian man.  You could say that I had on an outward spiritual skin I was posing in, while hiding and even trying to flee from the darkness in me.

Well, men the good news that I have to share with you today is this.  First, God knows all my hiding tricks.  He knows my “badness” better then I do.  He is not even surprised by my false spiritual antics.  He knows when I am not comfortable in my own skin. Secondly, He loving awaits for me to come home to that place of acceptance.  It is my choice. I can bring my real, honest, lonely self to him, with all the mess I have made.  He know this as the real me, someone that needs transformation, that is, a new spiritual skin as it were.  Thirdly, he can not do very much until I am honest enough with myself and come in all of my need.  Having a new skin to be comfortable in is the work of God.  He changes a man from the inside out.

So if you are not comfortable in your present spiritual skin, don’t stay on the “treadmill” of performance and effort.  You will not be at peace with yourself.  Admit your hypocrisy and your hiding.  Come home to Jesus at the Center (your deep soul).  In that place of acceptance  surrender your efforts and allow him to bring about a change in you so that you can be comfortable in your own spiritual skin.  Remember we can not patch up the old and make it look good spiritually.  We need something new.  Jesus warns us, “”No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work cloths; you want fabrics that match.  And you don’t put your wine in cracked bottles.” (Matt 9:16-17 – The Message).