Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Unqualified To Drive\Live

Were you driving today? Try and think of your drive to work or wherever you were going and ask yourself how aware were you of your drive? Do you even remember it? Did you break any laws?
 I’d guess you probably did.

Now picture in your mind that on the dash of your vehicle that you have a counter, and every time you break a law it makes a loud buzz and puts a strike against you. And I’m not talking about just some of the laws we are more conscious of like speeding, or making a right hand turn on a red light without stopping. I’m talking about the ones you do every day and don’t even think about like shoulder checking before changing lanes, using your signal light or glancing at your phone to see what notification you just received. How many points would you have against you at the end of the day?

Remember back when you took your road test for your driver’s license? You had an instructor in the seat beside you watching your every move with a clipboard and paper in hand marking down every mistake you made. What a nerve racking experience that was for me. But you knew, if you could endure and just get past this one test you’d never have to worry about somebody scrutinizing your driving like that ever again (unless your wife is in the car but I digress).

Now what if every one of the buzzes of the counter disqualified you as a driver? Or even worse, that you had to make some sort of restitution for every law you broke? Would any of us still have a driver’s license?  

We live in a strange system where we all know that we break many traffic laws every day. And frankly, we do it because we know we can get away with it…until somebody is watching us. So when you least expect it you get pulled over by the police and you get a ticket as a punishment and a reminder of the law.

Now imagine God, a being who is in all places at all times. Who knows our thoughts before we think them. You are in your body, driving through life, just going from point A to point B. God is the driver instructor, the police and judge all rolled into one. But even worse than any of the law officials he also knows your thoughts, your intentions before you do them. He knows when you make that little white lie to your spouse, when you lust with your eyes and want what your neighbor has.

Do you have a counter in your head? One that buzzes every time you do something you know you shouldn’t? Maybe you and you’ve heard the buzzer so many times that you’ve accepted it and embraced it as a way of life. I’ve been there, I’ve lived that way, and it’s not fun. In fact it is downright depressing like your living under a cloud.

What if I told you that there was a way to rip that sin counter right out and? No more guilt, no more shame no more cloud. You can wake up in the morning with a smile on your face because you know this is going to be a good day. And at the end of the day when you lay your head on your pillow your mind is quiet and at peace. Sounds too good to be true, right?

But it is true! You see before we know God, we are under something called “the law of sin and death” (how’s that for a light fluffy title?), but God sent his son Jesus to take the power of that law away.  That’s why we Christians talk about Jesus as our saviour.  This law had us in its grips and we were condemned to a whole lot of bad stuff, but then we turned to him and we weren’t. It’s freedom baby!

So then why don’t more Christians live like someone who was set free? Good question. I think the problem is that our brains can’t catch up to what has happened. The bible says that we were given a new heart when we chose to make Jesus lord of our lives, but the real work comes in accepting it.

But here’s the thing; as we accept it, we start to live it. And then we can’t help but give it away.

I pray for you today, that you can have rest for your weary mind. That even if you can’t accept that there is freedom for you, that you can at least get excited about the possibility. “But Joe, you don’t know what I’ve done”, yep I’ve hear that before and even said it myself to others when I was in the pits. But it doesn’t matter. Here’s the best part, you don’t even have to change your life! Wow! He wants you JUST AS YOU ARE right now, addictions, pain and all.

If you’ve read this and you think God inspired me to write this for you please reply. I’d be happy to talk to you more about it because I don’t know who I wrote this for.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Can Grace Increase?

Here's a funny story for you from when I was a young man. The year is 1995, I am 19 years old and recently out of high school and working full time. I moved out of my Mom's house and was living on my own for the first time.
I had recently started attending church and had gotten baptized. I wanted to get my life back on track with God.

Sarah and I weren't officially living together but she was staying with me at my apartment more than she was staying home. I was in love with her and enjoyed her staying with me but I knew it was wrong and my conscience was starting to really bug me.
We continued like that for a while until I could take it no longer. Convicted and in emotional turmoil I prayed and asked God he would give me permission to keep sleeping with my girlfriend (even though I knew the answer). I heard nothing.

A friend had recently told me about something he had done in a similar situation where he was wanting to hear from God, he put his bible on the table, spine down while he held it closed with both hands. He then pulled his hands away and let the bible fall open to whatever page it fell to and that was what he was supposed to read. I had a new bible I had never read and didn't know where to read anyways so this seemed like a good option for me so I did it. Here is the where it fell open to:

Romans 6
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

I was blown away. It was like God was talking directly to me and my situation. To say I was scared and intimidated would be an understatement.

When I think back on it now I laugh, what a cool thing God did for me that day.

I wish I could have understood what I was reading that day because there was a lot more to Romans 6 than I understood at the time. I've never done that bible falling open thing since and I'm not suggesting you try it. There are better ways to hear from God.
Did we continue sleeping together? Yes we did, my desire for sexual intimacy was stronger than my desire for holiness. Which opened up a Pandora's box of problems later in life but that's a story for another time.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Getting To Know Me: The Early Years

I became a Christian sometime when I was a kid, I didn't really understand much at that time. But I wanted to be good, because I thought that was what God wanted from me. Nobody taught me any different and I grew up under this idea that the better I was the more I was loved and accepted by God.

At 15 my sand foundation finally fell apart and I realized I couldn't be the good guy anymore. So I turned from Him and went to find my happiness in the world. Sex and pornography was always a lure for me and so I turned to find my acceptance in woman.

I had a number of relationships many of which I ended because of my own guilt and shame in the way I was living. This lead to meeting my wife Sarah, who at the time was another Christian who wasn't living for the Lord. 

Sarah had addictions issues that I knew nothing about at the time, nor how to deal with them. Our romance was fast and exciting, and we both talked about getting our lives back on track with God. Although she was clean and sober at the time we met, after 3 months of dating she was back into the partying and drugs. 

I was far too scared of drugs and alcohol so I didn't join her but did everything I could to try and rescue her. I nearly lost my mind during that time as I did everything in my power to protect her from herself, but it was a losing battle.

Near to a breakdown I reached out for help and found it in room of older ladies in an Al Anon meeting, a 12 step support group for those with loved ones tangled in addictions. After a couple meetings I found strength and reached out to my "higher power", the God I knew as a kid.

I broke up with Sarah because I knew that's what was best for me and I also realized I couldn't help her. Knowing she needed to make a choice between the partying and me she decided to clean up in the hopes she could get me back. It worked, we got back together but I wasn't the same, I had met God.

I had a hunger for God for the first time in my life and I believe this is when I started to own my faith. I was no longer living the faith that my Mom had passed down to me.

The people who lived on the main floor of the house I was living in invited me to their church and within a week I was baptized. I had a huge conflict within me now, I wanted to live for Christ but I really enjoyed living with my girlfriend (Sarah) and really enjoyed sex.

At 9 months of dating we found out Sarah was pregnant. Now my sin was obvious for all to see. After breaking up and getting back together we decided we would get married, after all it was the right thing to do.

We started regularly attending the church I was baptized in and we were married there in 1996. Life was not easy as we were both extremely immature, in life and spiritually. Our first son came only 3 months later and he had very severe health problems.

I was going from one dead end job to another, really feeling the need to find a career. My self esteem was crushed as I got fired over and over again. I kept looking for jobs in trades I was not skilled in and I really didn't fit in with "the guys".

Life at home was became mundane. Now that we were married sex was no longer a sin and it lost it's excitement. We decided we wanted more kids and sex became a tool for procreation. Sarah was now a Mom and her priorities were in making a home and looking after a baby and not me.

The internet was this new cool thing that everybody was talking about. I knew it had a lot of good uses but I had also heard it had a lot of porn which intrigued me. I wasn't getting much at home and had never dealt with my sex addiction. It had been kept at bay by my wife who had been willing to serve my sexual needs until her desires and energy were affected by having a baby.

I got accepted into school in 1998 and also got a grant to buy my first computer. This is also around when I started viewing porn online but with dial up internet you were limited with what you could get access to. Things got much worse in 2000 when we got high speed internet...

7.5 Years (2752 days) Later

On whim I decided to check out my old blog. I honestly forgot how much I used it. Spanning four years I posted 155 times and some of those were in my darkest times.

I think I wanted to forget this blog, pretend like it didn't happen because much of it felt like I was going through the motions. I didn't get honest with myself until late 2008 so much of what I posted previous to then feels like a counterfeit me.

But really, that was life. I didn't know what it meant to live in freedom, life was just one bondage to another with spurts of freedom in between.

I had so many questions about myself and what it meant to be a man. I was very confused for a very long time. And I was trying to find God in that and me in God....but until I got honest how could I?

I rated my ability to be loved by God by how free I was from my sin, which never seemed very far.

But I was still seeking Him in the midst of it. And that makes me very proud of the old Joe.

"What does it mean to be a man?" that question haunted me for years. When my first son was born in 1997 and I HAD to be a responsible adult that question hit me like a freight train. I am so happy to say that question no longer haunts me and I don't measure my ability to be loved by God by the distance from my sin.

Hence the name change of this blog from "Healing the masculine soul" to "Jesus's Disciple". My focus was on healing my broken masculine, now it's time to concentrate on being more like Jesus. Welcome along on my new chapter in this blog.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Jesus; Warehouse Janitor

One thing that has changed for me in this last year is my focus. Typically we tend to focus on behavior we want changed without really looking at the root symptom. Most teachings on pornography for example, only scratch the surface of a much deeper problem. But these problems tend to live in areas of the male psyche, behind a door that says "do not open".
Men are waffles, women are spaghetti. If you have never heard this saying before it refers to how with women, everything is connected, like one long spaghetti noodle on a plate. Men however, have many compartments like a waffle, all segmented and not really connected. This is no flaw in design, it is what allows us to go to war when the time comes to protect those we love. We are able to take the fear that would disable us and shove it into one of those compartments and walk onto the battlefield. I believe that we as men have taken this principle and applied it to everything.
I had many containers, and I am willing to bet most men do. We don't even realize how many there are or that we have them. For many men, containers are a source of comfort, nothing ever really has to get dealt with to continue on with life. But what kind of life is that?
I had trouble containing my containers, especially after my first real confrontation with with the reality and finding out that I wasn't the perfect husband. My containers started to overflow with the grief I had inside, and the confusion as to who I was. My wife couldn't answer the questions, no female can bestow masculinity to a man, I needed another man.
As funny as it sounds, as much as most men are unaware that they even have these containers, they know that they don't want to start cracking them open. Fathers (myself included) have helped their sons build their very first container when we tell our boys that men don't cry. I know of men that haven't shed a tear since that day.
Containers can hold a a whole host of ugliness, the more that a man has had to face in a his years on this planet, the bigger the pile if undealt with. The more emotionally bankrupt the man, the more containers he is unaware of.
I have pictured what my container "warehouse" looked like when I first started my journey, hopefully this will shed some light into the male psyche.
Imagine a large warehouse, and industrial warehouse. This warehouse has many large shelves that can only be reached with a forklift. The isles are endless, the floors are swept clean. And on each shelf sits 3 to 4 containers. The warehouse is full, and each container is placed chronologically after the other as the pains of life happened. Got the mental picture? Good.
Now have a massive earthquake hit that warehouse so that all of the containers fall off of their shelves are are sitting piled on the floor. This I believe is an accurate picture. Some of the worst hurts are somewhere underneath everything else. Some containers have cracked and are leaking their contents out into everyday life, tainting all that we say or do.
My warehouse is looking very organized these days, most of the containers on their shelves, very few new ones are coming in and a large number of containers from my past have been emptied and swept clean and thrown into the fire. I hired a janitor.
I was a Christian for a long time before I realized that Jesus could help me with my warehouse. Not only could he help, but he wanted to. The sacrifice on my part was to trust him with the key. We now go through the containers together, little by little, one by one. One day my warehouse will be very empty.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Decline of Masculinity - David Menzies

To paraphrase the old Molson Canadian tagline: I AM ... an idiot.

You read it right: I’m an incompetent goof. A pathetic primate who can barely function in our oh-so-complicated world.

Why the lowly self-assessment? No, I didn’t invest in Bre-X. Nor do I drive an Aztek. Rather, it’s the advertising industry that’s convinced me I’m a loser due to one glaring prerequisite: my gender.

For the last several months, I’ve taken note of several radio and TV ads whenever there was a script depicting two people of different genders. In every spot except one, men were portrayed as imbeciles.

Even if the script established the male character as a successful business owner, he still came across like the classic Phil Hartman character, Unfrozen Cave Man Lawyer from Saturday Night Live. (The defrosted Neanderthal would continually note that the attributes of today’s world – “flashing neon signs” and “fast-moving cars” – would “frighten and confuse” him.)

In today’ advertising world, unfrozen cave men abound.

In a Toyota spot, a male Toyota owner is depicted as being virtually brain damaged when he addresses a female Toyota customer service clerk. He can’t remember (or doesn’t know) what needs to be serviced on his car. He doesn’t even know what he wants to drink. Thank goodness for the know-it-all service rep who tells him what needs to be done to remedy his motor (without even popping the hood). She also informs him he’s experiencing a craving for caffeine.

A Rogers Wireless spot promoting the BlackBerry Curve depicts a male commuter admiring the BlackBerry of a female. He mentions he plans on getting such a device himself one day.

“I was set up in minutes,” the woman explains.

“... In ... minutes ...?” says the fellow in a tone that suggests he’s contemplating quantum physics.

A CIBC ad establishes “Tom” as a successful businessman. Along comes a female customer who’s not in Tom’s line of business but, naturally, is an expert when it comes to Tom’s trade. She tells him to install a CIBC e-commerce solution in a tone reminiscent of how a principal would address a kindergarten student. Tom’s response: “They [CIBC] can put in an online ordering system?” Naturally, it is uttered with child-like wonderment.

Likewise, a Royal Bank spot features a successful male salon owner who apparently knows nothing about the salon business (from e-commerce to ambient music.) Naturally, a condescending female customer educates the poor doofus.

Of note, one man recently had enough of the male-bashing. Peter Regan, a single parent in Calgary, filed a complaint with Advertising Standards Canada after he took exception to a Rona ad. The spot depicts a female Rona employee dealing with a female customer who laments that her husband never helps around the house. The clerk responds: “That's OK. They [husbands] are all like that.”

In August, the ASC decided the commercial indeed contravened regulations and “disparaged men and/or married men.” Rona was told to remove or alter the ad.

I doubt I’d ever be inclined to complain to a regulatory body about how a group was being depicted in an advertisement. If one is truly offended by such creative, isn’t it more meaningful to vote with one’s wallet – i.e., by patronizing the competitors?

Even so, the question arises: what is the unspoken strategy of having men cast as dimwits? It cannot be random chance. In fact, it’s statistically impossible that in 99% of scripts, the male is the one who is dazed and confused while the woman (or child) is portrayed as an oracle of wisdom.

My hunch: when it comes to getting slagged men tend to take it, well, like a man. Aside from the Rona complainer, men tend to be stoic and silent about such slights. And there’s never been a male equivalent of MediaWatch, a cabal of taxpayer-funded humorous harpies whose mission statement is to rant about how ads depict women and girls.

York University marketing professor Alan Middleton agrees with my thesis. And he adds another noteworthy point: since women in many households control the purse strings, ad agencies figure it’s not a prudent idea to upset the individual who is most likely to be making the purchase. Thus, if the script calls for a dolt, it’s a no-brainer to the man will play the fool.

Indeed, as long as complainers such as Peter Regan remain the exception as opposed to the rule, expect men to be depicted as dumbbells in advertising for decades to come. But then again, what do I know?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

In The Light

I was just in the washroom....yeah I am sure you wanted to know that. As I sat pondering the moments of life that one ponders as they sit on the porcelain throne, I looked up at the clock. The clock was ticking away as it normally does, but the time was way off. As I watched a bit longer I noticed that even though the clock was ticking, the second hand was not actually moving, it was just quivered with each tick. Powerless to move.
There are many metaphors that I see in this which reflect where I am in life. The clock is ticking, so if a person doesn't look closely, they would think it was working properly, if the glance was brief enough they would assume that whatever time the clock was displaying was correct and and it could lead a person astray.
I am grieved by how my God is displayed in my life, for I am full of faults. I profess my love for the God who redeemed my life, but fall short in reflecting His love to a world that is searching......for something....for Him.
My heart is to be like the moon, unlike the sun, the moon has no power on its own to create light. It can only reflect the light of the true source of light in our solar system, the sun. Many times the world gets in the way and you can only see a sliver of that light, but when there is nothing blocking the light it can shine so brightly that we can see where we are going and the oceans tides are affected.
God is that light, the true source. The more I let Him into my life and let Him change me the better I can reflect His light. The world and all of its temptations cannot block the light.

The disease of self runs through my blood
Its a cancer fatal to my soul
Every attempt on my behalf has failed
To bring this sickness under control

Tell me, whats going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That Im still a man in need of a savior

I wanna be in the light
As you are in the light
I wanna shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, Lord be my light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the light
All I want is to be in the light


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Just be....

This is my latest challenge, I really don't know what this looks like. All my life I have struggled with significance, I have always wanted to know I am unique, that I have something special. But I have never thought that just me, alone am significant. This has manifested in a desire for leadership and position. I took a lot of pride in the fact that at age 24 I was a business owner. I did an awesome job of making my business look good, have a professional appearance. I designed a great logo, the sharpest looking business cards, professional invoicing, nice looking company vehicle. The list goes on and on.
I was also very involved in my hobby of radio control cars, there were no clubs in the area so I started one. I loved being the president, we got a great looking website and logo, started making appearances in various shows around town.
I don't think I am being conceited when I say I did a really great job of making things look really good.
These things were a reflection of what was going on inside of me. On the outside I was a really nice guy, tamed if you will. I was no threat to anybody and people inherently trusted me. But there was no substance.
With my business there was no way I could have even gotten it off the ground had it not been for the financial support of my parents. My Mom loaned me money that was to be used for supporting my family so that I could keep operating capital in the bank. I would often use money in my account to buy myself new toys, RC's, vintage toys for my collection, computer games or technological gadgets. All to satisfy my flesh. My Dad owned the building I had my company in and I shared space with him. There is no way, that had I needed to pay rent that my company could have survived five years.
My RC club did okay, I think mostly because nobody else wanted to start another. There was a lot of infighting in the club, a core group of 3 or 4 that worked hard so that the others could have fun. But eventually they burned out and started complaining why nobody else was helping. I had a few critics that used the anonymity of our club's website to take shots at me, something that cut me to my core. Eventually when the going got too tough I stepped down and let somebody else take to blows.
In both cases when the rubber met the road there was no substance. Its like had I written a book, it would be a 500 page novel with the best looking cover and the catchiest title. But the pages would be blank. Had I been a block of gold thrown into the smelter for the impurities to be burned away, there would have been nothing left. Jesus was speaking of me in Matthew 23:27 when he said "What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity."
How do I learn to just be. To have the confidence that the way I am IS the way God me? That I am valuable without being able to offer you something. That I am important without a label or title. I can tell you right now, I don't know these things.

Unqualified To Drive\Live

Were you driving today? Try and think of your drive to work or wherever you were going and ask yourself how aware were you of your driv...