Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Places Of Fear

Last week I had the awesome opportunity to have coffee with a brother that God has put on my heart for a while. We had a chance to talk and get to know each other better. While encouraging this brother God gave me a revelation that that has encouraged and challenged me.

Steve Masterson with Promise Keepers has been a major influence in my life, he has an incredible way of speaking truths about men and our roles by paralleling the physical and the spiritual. He tends to be quite blunt and does not get embarrassed easily and so in one of his analogies he compared the role of Christian men in society to the miracle of the creation of life but more particularly, sperm. As Christian men we are called to bring life just as the sperm brings life to the egg. Those sperm were created for one purpose, and that is to reach the egg. The sperm never tire in their pursuit as this is why they were given life. We were similarly created to reach God, to never tire as we reach toward the father bringing life to our places of work, our church and our families. We do this by allowing the Holy Spirit to speak through us and love those in our sphere of influence.

I would like to take this one step further and challenge us that God has also called us as men to have the courage to walk into the unknown and the places of hurt and fear in our lives and encourage those around us to do the same. God has not given us the spirit of fear, but all of us have some area or areas in our lives that we label as "untouchable" because it is just to hurtful to go there. These hurts can hold us back from the life of abundance that Jesus has given us.
In Matthew 5 Jesus speaks of the beatitudes and verse 9 states "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God". Wow!! Notice how Jesus says blessed are the peacemakers, not the peacekeepers. Semantics? I think not. The difference between a peacekeeper and a peacemaker is that the peacekeepers will smooth things over, do whatever it takes to keep the peace, even if the peace is false. Something I have been doing for far too long. You see the peacemaker boldly walks into a situation and brings the truth of the word and repentance and only then can we have the true peace of Christ (Col 3:15). Once we have walked our own roads of fear, we are then able to walk along side another and help them make those first steps.

So my area of fear has been in my finances. In my self-employment phase I created a debt that has for a long time looked far too overwhelming to tackle, so I ignored it hoping that if I pretended it wasn't there I would forget about it or it would go away. So for the last two years it has weighed down on my shoulders like a millstone around my neck, and has for the most part prevented me from looking at my family’s future with any kind of optimism.
The thought of owning a house has not been possible until the debt has been dealt with. I just couldn't go there. But little by little our finances have been looking better and better and so I sat down and made up a budget for my family, but still ignoring the debt. But the budget gave me the courage to go farther and as I looked at our expenses versus our income our financial picture didn't look so hopeless. So in a bold move I made an appointment for us to meet with a financial advisor, and we worked out a financial plan that is going help us start tackling this debt.

This has had a ripple effect and allowed me to confront some other issues in future that includes long term career plans. You cannot imagine how freeing this has been, and the new hope and confidence this has had on both Carebear and I. Things are definitely looking up and God is bringing more and more opportunity my way.

Very exciting times! Bless you!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Covenant Friendship

Why would you have covenant friendship, that just sounds weird. Well it is different, but remember, the point the author is trying to make is that we move away from what we move away from the traditional male friendship into friendships with direction and purpose.
To have an acquaintance is nice. To have a friend is good. To have someone you can talk to about what’s on your heart is awesome but to be known and still loved and accepted, now that is divine.

So what is a covenant? A covenant is simply a formal sealed agreement or contract. The author and his two friends drafted the following covenant with eight promises to add purpose to their friendship:

1. To affirm one another
2.To be available to one another (in proper relation to commitments to marriage and family)
3.To pray with and for each other
4.To be open with each other
5.To relate to each other in honesty
6. To relate to each other in sensitivity
7. To relate to each other in confidentiality
8. To be accountable to each other

Within these eight promises is safety, security and the foundations for a purpose driven friendship.

How secure would you feel if your job was up for review at the end of every week? There is no certainty or expectations that a friend will be there forever, in fact friendships in their very nature are fluid. "A covenant provides the clarity and purpose that allows individuals to solidify relationships". The author and his friends chose something that provided both clarity and assurance regarding future expectations.

I have often thought about times when my wife and I were at odds, and how weak and alone I felt. In contrast though, there have been times that I have had to make a venture out into the unknown, into an area of risk and my wife has told me that she is behind me 100%. It has been those times of unity that I have felt incredible boldness and that I could take on the world. This is because my wife and I formed a covenant of marriage. I believe that this same confidence can come out of male friendships that are built in purpose. Just like a trumpeter leading the army into battle, I know my boys are behind me.

In 1 Samuel 18 we read about the story of Jonathan and David, I know that I have taken this story for granted and what it can show us about friendship. There is almost soap opera overtones in the story when you consider the huge social barriers that these two would have had to overcome. One is a poor Sheppard boy and the other the prince of all Israel. But when you throw in the fact that God promised David to be king, and not Jonathan, the rightful heir to the throne you just have to wonder how these two could have loved each other. But they did. in fact Jonathan saved David's life, probably more times than what were recorded in the bible. David and Jonathans souls became knit together and the two sealed a covenant by Jonathan presenting to David all of the symbols of his royal heritage, his robe, his sword, his bow, and his belt.
This friendship was preserved in spirit as it was too dangerous for the two to see each other as Jonathan's father, King Saul had become insanely jealous of David who had proved himself also a great warrior in battle.
This story of friendship doesn't even end when Jonathan dies on the battlefield along with his father as David takes in Jonathan's only surviving offspring and loved him as if he were his own son. WOW!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Company You Keep

When Sarah and I were at the local Christian book store buying Christmas presents I stumbled across a book that really peaked my interest. The title is "The Company You Keep" by David Bentall. The title in itself didn't really catch me as much as the subtitle "The Transforming Power Of Male Friendships".

So I have decided that for the next while my blog is going to be like an online book report if you will. I have come to realize that if I write down important points when reading my ability to retain what I have learned increases substantially. So this is as much for me as it is for you.

Men often choose friends the way they select shows on television—by incessantly clicking the remote until something appears that catches their interest for a moment.We just start getting together and with the frequency of our getting together we eventually get past all the formalities and if we are lucky an intimate relationship is formed.

In contrast, relationships of substance require thoughtful consideration, a deliberate effort and a paradigm shift in thinking about friendship. The author challenges the traditional ideas about men's friendships before encouraging men to wholeheartedly pursue the power and potential that is available from intentional friendship. Unfortunately not many men are lucky enough to have intimate relationships with other men. Many of us had friends growing up, but as we reached adulthood the value that we put on friendships somehow dimished. Much of this has to do with our inability to vulnerable.

Have you ever considered who will faithfully stand with you until the end of your life? Who will support you through losses, career crises, marriage problems, or illness? Apart from family members, who encourages you in hard times and celebrates you when you succeed?

Sadly, most men offer uncertain answers, at best. In fact, the author has found that many have never thought about actively building friendships with other men, let alone ones that will offer affirmation, motivation or unconditional love and support through the many seasons of life.

In this book the author challenges us to a new kind of friendship. One that actually has forethought and strategy to it. We don't leave meeting to chance, we actively seek finding a friend who will ultimately help us become a better man. That is, to deliberately select, pursue and build friendships with those who are willing to be honest with you, to nurture you, to motivate you and to hold you accountable in areas of life that require change.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Stained Glass Masquerade

I grabbed this album after it was recommended by In Search Of Truth, it is a very cool album. I am working on a drama that could be done to the song.

Casting Crowns - Stained Glass Masquerade

Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small

Cause when I take a look around
Everybody seems so strong
I know they’ll soon discover
That I don’t belong

So I tuck it all away, like everything’s okay
If I make them all believe it, maybe I’ll believe it too
So with a painted grin, I play the part again
So everyone will see me the way that I see them


Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain
But if the invitation’s open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

Is there anyone who’s been there
Are there any hands to raise
Am I the only one who’s traded
In the altar for a stage

The performance is convincing
And we know every line by heart
Only when no one is watching
Can we really fall apart

But would it set me free
If I dared to let you see
The truth behind the person
That you imagine me to be

Would your arms be open
Or would you walk away
Would the love of Jesus
Be enough to make you stay

Chorus x2

Well if the invitation’s open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small

Monday, January 02, 2006

Beyond Survival

Thank goodness the holidays are almost over. Christmas has come and gone like a tsunami left in its wake much damage. Okay it hasn't been that bad, mostly just stress from going from here to there, some extra pounds around my mid section, selfish kids and an empty bank account. It is amazing how our lives get turned upsidedown during this season.


The dictionary defines survival as "a state of surviving; remaining alive". I don't know about you but this doesn't sound very fun to me. So much for this abundant "Christian" life.


God has been speaking to me about rising above what is going on around me. When the pressures at work are pushing me to and fro, rise above. When that angry customer comes in and tears a strip out of me, rise above. When the world is pressuring me with the stresses of Christmas, rise above. This is the beautiful thing about the Christian life is that we have the choice of being a part of the world system or separating ourselves and living on the plain of existence that God has called us to live on. The word says in (Eph 6:12) "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." If that is not a different plain of existance, I don't know what is.

I have realized as well that the enemy has me right where he wants me when I am in survival mode as I get horribly selfish. I am grasping for every crumb just to make it through the day. Just like two people drowning in the middle of a lake, they will grasp onto whatever they think will hold them up and drown each other. All of a sudden my focus goes back to my own two feet and my own needs and I start to forget what’s really important. I start to complain about my current situation, my job, the people, I stop serving my family and my church and I get just plain old grumpy.


God can use me in even when I am in survival mode, because he is God, but I am certainly not modeling a Christian life that would be desirable to the world. So what is the opposite of survival? Thriving. The definition of thriving is " To grow vigorously; flourish". It is not hard to know when am in a state of thriving, the fruit is all around me and my focus is on things that are eternal.

Okay now I know I am in survival mode, I need to get into thrive mode, how do I get there? Well I need purpose. Purpose is the vehicle that is going to drive me out of this desert land of starvation and death into the land of plenty, the promised land. So what is my purpose? Well Carebear and I went out on a date and we decided to take some time to jot down what we know our purposes are. Here are a couple of the things I came up with.

My purpose is to:

  • make disciples
  • to be a loving husband and father
  • to worship my God
  • to serve my family
  • to share Jesus with those who I come in contact with
  • to understand and seek God's destiny for my life

The discipleship wheel puts it into three main categories, to love God, one another and the world. The pillars of this are truth, repentance and faith.

This Christmas I failed, I succumbed to the pressures around me and went into survival mode. But when I move into the land of "thrive" and leave survival I take on a new title, I am a survivor, one who has been been pushed to the limit and come out on the other side.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Remembering 1986

You know you are old if you remember these events from 20 years ago!!!!
  • The space shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after launch killing all astronauts aboard
  • In the Soviet Union the Chernobyl nuclear power reactor explodes, thousands are exposed to lethal amounts of radiation
  • The movies "Ferris Beuller's Day Off", "Labyrinth" & "Short Circuit" hit theaters
  • We were watching our favorite cartoons like Teddy Ruxpin, Duck Tales, GI Joe, Inspector Gadget and of course Transformers
  • Top selling albums were Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins (Top Gun), Stuck With You by Huey Lewis & The News and Walk Like An Egyptian by the Bangles all on tape cassette
  • The original Nintendo hits the market
  • Our favorite sitcoms were The Cosby Show, Cheers, Family Ties and Night Court
  • Everybody's talking about Haley's comet
I thought some of these equivalents were kinda cool, see what you can come up with
  • "E-mail" = "Sticky Notes" (non-personal communication)
  • "N Sync" = "New Kids on the Block"
  • "Coke C2" = "Pepsi Free"
  • "SUVs and Minivans" = "Stationwagons"
  • "Walmart" = "Consumers Distributing" or "Sears"
  • "Japanese Street Racers" = "American Muscle Cars"
  • "The Taco Bell Chihuahua" = "Spuds McKenzie"
  • "XBox 360" = "Atari 2600"
  • "Joan Of Arcadia" = "Highway to Heaven"
  • "Simpsons" = "Flintstones"
  • "Ipod" = "Walkman"
  • "Rugrats" = "Muppet babies"
  • "Gotees" = "Stubble"
  • "Vote For Pedro" = "Save Ferris"

Unqualified To Drive\Live

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