Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bar Barakah - Cermonial Blessing

My aunt and uncle just loaned me an awesome book on Christian ceremonial blessings, called Bar Barakah, by Craig Hill. With the journey I am on it has really resonated with my spirit because I have longed for something to confirm me as a man. How does any boy or girl in our society know when they have passed that stage of childhood and are on the road to being an adult?
Craig Hill talks in his book about the need for a ceremonial blessing in a person's life, man or woman. He mentions people in their are many people in their 30's, 40's and even 50's that are still under their parents and not feeling like they truly are an adult. He says that at one conference he was at an older man piped up saying that that feeling doesn't go away in your eighties either.
Many societies have some sort of ritual, like the Jewish Bar Mitzvah. In "Healing the Masculine Soul" by Gordon Dalbey he talks about a polygamist African tribe that at the age of maturity calls the boy out of his mothers house and takes him away to learn about the history of his people, learn trades of being a man and fasting with prayer. When the boy comes back to the village he is no longer in his mothers house, his father builds him his own hut and gives him a plot of land to farm. And it isn't until he is well established in these things that he is allowed to see his mother again, at which point he is reintroduced to her as a man, lest she steals away his manhood with her mothering.
What does our society provide to initiate us into manhood? Well, a couple that Dalbey mentions are the ability to drive, buy cigarettes, go to the bar and buy pornographic material. He also mentions join the army and one I thought about was to ability to go to the casino and gamble. So what do these really communicate to those coming of age? Well a generality would be that adulthood means having the ability to do destructive things (other than driving but that would depend on how you drive).
For me it was driving, I longed for that day for years. In fact I started taking my Dad's truck out and driving on back streets and ally's when I was 13 and 14. I just couldn't wait. But like many other things in my life that I had expected to confirm my manhood, this too was empty and left me disappointed.
The Christian blessing ceremony called the Bar Barakah would be a major milestone in the life of the one who is blessed enough to have one. Craig Hill in the book compares it to a marriage ceremony, and ascribes as much importance. He asked those who are married, how do you know you are married? Most people were able to look back on their wedding day as how they knew. He asked if there was ever any doubt that you were ever "really" married and again there was no doubt because of the ceremony. That is the importance of ceremony. Imagine if you were able to look back on your life and remember your Bar Barakah, and know that this was the day you became a man. On this day your father imparted his blessing to you and declared before all your families friends and relatives "This is my son, in whom I am well pleased. Today my son, you are a man, before us and before God". After that day a child's life would be totally different, he would be granted new freedoms and be treated with a new respect.
I fully intend to do this with my son and study this more over the next while, as my son will be coming of age in the next 4 or 5 years. It excites me to think of how great it will be, and how he will have what I never had. He will never have to wonder when and if he really is a man.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

More California Pictures

My sisters Wedding Day and Legoland.

25 Ways To Be A Servant-Leader

This is an excerpt from session 21 from Men's Fraternity. I struggle with the majority of these but when I read them my spirit just leaps in agreement that this is my calling in my home.

1. A servant-leader includes his wife in envisioning the future.
2. A servant-leader accepts spiritual responsibility for his family.
3. A servant-leader is willing to say “I’m sorry” and “Forgive me” to his family.
4. A servant-leader discusses household responsibilities with his wife and makes sure they are fairly distributed.
5. A servant-leader seeks the consultation of his wife on all major financial decisions.
6. A servant-leader follows through with commitments he has made to his wife.
7. A servant-leader anticipates the different seasons his marriage will pass through.
8. A servant-leader anticipates the different stages his children will pass through.
9. A servant-leader frequently tells his wife what he likes about her.
10. A servant-leader provides financially for his family’s basic living expenses.
11. A servant-leader deals with distractions so he can talk with his wife and family.
12. A servant-leader prays with his wife on a regular basis.
13. A servant-leader initiates meaningful family traditions.
14. A servant-leader plans fun outings for the family on a regular basis.
15. A servant-leader takes the time to give his children practical instruction about life, which in turn gives them confidence with their peers.
16. A servant-leader manages the schedule of the home and anticipates any pressure points.
17. A servant-leader keeps his family financially sound and out of harmful debt.
18. A servant-leader makes sure he and his wife have drawn up a will and arranged a well-conceived plan for their children in case of death.
19. A servant-leader lets his wife and children into the interior of his life.
20. A servant-leader honors his wife often in public.
21. A servant-leader explains sex to each child in a way that gives them a whole-some perspective.
22. A servant-leader encourages his wife to grow as an individual.
23. A servant-leader takes the lead in establishing with his wife sound, biblically-supportable family values.
24. A servant-leader joins a small group of men who are dedicated to improving their skills as a man, husband, and father.
25. A servant-leader provides time for his wife to pursue her own personal interests.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Califonia Pictures

Click here:

California and California Coast

Some Great Quotes

There is a "tear" in the masculine soul-a gaping hole or wound and into this hole demons have fled- demons of insecurity, selfishness and despair. Consequently men do not know who they are as men. Rather they define themselves by what they do, who they know or what they own.

As we bring our insecurity, unforgiven and immature thought/behavior patterns to the Lord honestly and vulnerably, He can free us from our pain and weakness and both lead and empower us to live a new way.

Unfortunately for themselves, their families, and their communities (men) have been satisfied with surface definitions of their masculinity, and have not probed the wonders of their deep masculine selves. Were they to choose to do so, our word would be a much different place, for men would be able once again to truly lead, guide, and direct their own lives and others. They would be able to carry their fair share of the burdens of our human and Christian communities. They would once again be truly able to enjoy their lives, not in selfishness, but in the wonder of contributing their strength for the well being of others.

Ted Dobson
Catholic Priest

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Masculinity in a Feminized World

It is hard to speak about feminism, because from a man's perspective there are some things that are just not right. And I am not sure our feminized society is willing to receive it.
Before we get too far into that we need to acknowledge the wrongs that men inflicted on women, wrongs that gave a need for the feminist movement in the first place. Men crossed barriers when they took a God given role of leadership and used it to dominate and rule over the wife and family with cruelty. If men had treated women with the respect and honor they deserved there likely would not have been a feminist movement. But here is the problem, it seems as though we swung the pendulum too far the other direction.

Was the "Masculinity Movement" ready to abdicate power?

Of course there has not been a "Masculinity Movement" (although at times I think if we keep the direction we are going we will have one) but it did seem like men gave up without a fight. It makes me think of the strategy that the English had to get rid of the Scottish during the time of William Wallace. The right of "prima noctes" was the right of the English lord to bed the bride of a Scotsman on her wedding night, in as such "breeding" them out.
It seems like it only took one generation to turn the tides of the genders, as it was only in the early 60's that feminism really caught on. Feminism in itself is alright and was\is possibly needed, but it goes too far when it crosses the equality line and starts to take war against masculinity and the attributes of manhood.
The battle is not only in the Human Rights tribunals, or in the media. It has creeped into our churches across North America

I read on a blog recently the following:

"I work at helping my children see the manhood of Christ. But, I’m afraid that I don’t get a lot of help in this regard. As I observe the typical church, listening to sermons and Bible studies I often hear only the softer side of Christ presented. As a matter of fact, I recently asked participants in two seminars to list characteristics of Christ. In both the women’s seminar and the men’s seminar, the descriptors were words like, loving, forgiving, kind, compassionate, gentle. There were very few words that would have been compelling to men."

Even our churches are infected with it.

"I agree Christ was all of these things. He was the most incredible example of each of these characteristics, but that’s not all he was. He was also the most worthwhile example of courage, tenacity, service, assertiveness, righteousness, leadership, determination and Godliness. These are characteristics that are more likely to get a man’s attention. But we don’t hear about these things often enough from our pulpits or in our Bible studies."

I love to think about Jesus, when he enters the temple and sees the money changers defiling his father's house. I like how in John 2:15 it says Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them out. This is such a beautiful picture because Jesus is angry, yet he does not sin. I love picturing my savior running around this temple with fire in his eyes and lashing a whip. That's my man!

In Christina Hoff-Sommers book The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men we see how even secular culture is seeing the potential for damage. In a review of the book, the reviewer states:

"This book tells the story of how it has become fashionable to attribute pathology to millions of healthy male children. It is a story of how we are turning against boys and forgetting a simple truth: that the energy, competitiveness, and corporal daring of normal, decent males is responsible for much of what is right in the world. No one denies that boys’ aggressive tendencies must be checked and channeled in constructive ways. Boys need discipline, respect, and moral guidance. Boys need love and tolerant understanding. They do not need to be pathologized."

And my favorite quote:

"it’s a bad time to be a boy in America. . . ."

I believe that there is an all out war on men (though very subtle), we are trying to smudge the lines in the name of equality but damaging the goods in the process. We need to realized that when a man rises up is not at the expense of a woman. Not only that, but if men do not rise up, there will not be any men left.

Wounded Heros

It is annoying how your ideals can change when new information is added. I think of how Halloween was such a fun day growing up. I never got into the scariness of it, but I did enjoy dressing up and getting candy. There was never a question as to if you were going to go out trick or treating, that is just what you did. Fast forward to adulthood and you find out its horrible roots, and the spiritual implications and all of a sudden as a Christian father you are wondering if you even want to participate in such a horrible festivity.

Another example somewhat similar would be from the movie "The Matrix". At one point Morpheus confronts Neo with a choice, red pill or blue pill. Red pill everything stays the same and life continues as you know it, blue pill you find out the truth of your existence.

I have had few male role models in my life, and growing up I really had no one that was willing to really invest in me. To spend quality time with me and showing me what it meant to be a man. At some point in my childhood I attached to my Grandpa. Even though I cannot remember him ever really investing into me, one on one, I saw some traits in him that I admired. And at some point I decided I wanted to model my life after his.

As a man I now ask myself what it was that I saw in him. First and foremost I knew he was respected and considered wise by those that were close to him. Second he was a man of faith. While he still had his eyesight he was constantly reading the bible and his daily bread devotional was always on that days date, having been read that very morning. We were always blessed to have him ask the family get-together's meal because when he prayed he prayed as a man who knew the God whom he was praying to. I knew he was a gentle man, soft spoken and slow to anger. Compared to my own father my Grandpa was his opposite, and as painful as it is to admit I was looking for my father's opposite.

Going through my masculine healing journey I have come to some realizations that in many ways caused me to build my foundations on sand. Grandpa was a wonderful man, and I do not want anyone to hear anything other than my admiration for who he was, because I loved him very much. But I have realized the he was not that different than me. He was wounded.

He grew up in an alcoholic home and I can only assume his way of dealing with his alcoholic father was to just get quiet. He married my Grandma and from everything I can gather she was very similar to his own Dad in her harshness and controlling of him. My Mom had recounted many memories from her childhood of my Grandma verbally beating my Grandpa into submission. Grandma also had the gift of gab which took the pressure off Grandpa to be the conversationalist. And so he fell into the background which is where he seem content to be.

Both my Mom and my Uncle have recounted to me how even though Grandpa was there in body during their childhood he wasn't really there emotionally. And in may ways he cheated his children from any emotion, positive or negative. He met the Lord when he was a young man and through his many years of reading the word had much wisdom, but to tap into his wisdom you had to almost force it out of him. I can appreciate how he would have felt beat down by my Grandma, but what was it in him that was okay with his passivity?

It has only been through revelation in my healing that I have been able to recognize the same wound in both of us. I hypothesize that my Grandpa struggled with the question of what it means to be a man as well. I think the fact that I looked to my Grandpa as a masculine role model really communicates how mixed up I was. One of my favorite books (Raising a Modern Day Knight) has the best definition of manhood. author Robert Lewis defines it as:

"....someone who rejects passivity, accepts responsibility, leads courageously, and expects the greater reward; God's reward".

That is the awesome thing about God, realizing this does not bring resentment. Actually the opposite, I see my Grandpa as a fellow wounded man and it brings me much compassion for him. I wish Grandpa could have been the man God created him to be, I wish he could have been a courageous leader, but regardless I know he was a man after God's heart and I will see him again someday.

The Quest for Authentic Manhood

This has been a long journey for me. It started when our first son was born, I was newly married and working a minimum wage job. I was confronted with the fact that I could no longer sluff off my responsibilities in life, it was time to be a man. The scary thing was that I had no idea what that meant. I started to make some small steps in my life that I thought would fulfill that need, like going back to school. It helped for a bit, but still left me empty. For three years I tried to ignore the calling while comforting myself with my vices. In 2000 my world came crashing down and I was violently confronted with my ignorance towards this subject. I was left even more confused and heaped a whole pile of hurt on top of it.

I sought out other men, surely I am not the only one feeling like this. The first couple of guys I shared my questions with more or less ran from me as if I were diseased. I now realize that for them, even though they may have appeared to have masculinity cased on the outside really didn't know any more than me. They were just able to fake it better. And they really didn't want to confront something that was that "deep", after all we are men, we are self sufficient. When you are hurting and somebody tells you just to "buck up" and continue on and actually shames you for acknowledging your hurt, that can be really damaging to a man psyche.

Eventually I did find some companions for my journey, but there is a danger in just healing enough that the hurt goes away, but not really dealing with the wound. For me, to deal with the wound I have had to dig deep, deep inside and confront some ugly things that I really don't want to admit are there. I have had to dig back to my childhood and recognize some of the things that were missing and other areas that were overdone. Its sounds like a long process and in some ways it is, but the healing is so worth it. I have dealt with this all my married life and have cheated my wife and children from having the real me. My wife says that deep down she has always been able to see the man I now am, but the "log jams" in my life have stopped me from reaching my potential.

Where do I go next? The journey of healing is really just beginning. A friend encouraged me when I was sharing with him that the healing, freedom and empowerment that I am now experiencing is only a drop in the bucket compared to the total healing, freedom and empowerment that He will bestow on me. Very exciting. I have not arrived, and I am very aware of this, but at least I know where I am going and am embracing the journey.

Friday, December 05, 2008


Time to blow some dust off my blog. I have desired to blog all the amazing things God is showing me and new things I am learning but it seems that I the time is not quite right.

I have been blessed by many things lately, but mostly by my amazing wife. She is so amazing how she carries the heart of God to me time and time again. God is doing so many amazing things in her and I get to be front row and center.

God has led me to some amazing books, the first was "Healing the Masculine Soul" by Gordon Dalby. This was the perfect book for me, so much insight into myself, my pain and understanding why I have done some of the stupid things I have. I highly recommend this book for any man that is struggling with masculinity, and how to become a man after God's heart.

"Wild at Heart" by John Eldredge has been a huge blessing to me. I find that He doesn't write at quite as technical a level as Gordon Dalbey does, but manages to hit the heart issues even deeper. I find that the two books compliment each other very well and have just kept me trucking down the healing journey.

Men's Fraternity ( has been a wonderful nugget that God helped me to stumble across while I was looking through podcasts on iTunes. After listening to the first 6 sessions I quickly downloaded the other 18 (24 sessions total in the "Quest for Authentic Manhood"). These audio sessions basically take the same message from the books previously mentioned and expand it into a 24 week journey of healing. I have had to do it individually but the ultimate goal would be to do it in a small group with other men. It has been so healing to me and maybe one day when I am healed I could bring it to the men of our church or even city.

It is amazing how God loves to give us a heart of reconciliation. In 2 Corinthians 5:18 it says "And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him." And so it should come as little surprise to us that when we ask for this, he is ready to give it to us and wants to.
I have felt led to pray for several couples whose marriages are facing a similar similar battle to the one we faced in ours. As I have gone to God praying for these couples he has used that same spirit to walk in bringing unity between my Sister and Dad.

God is good, thats all I can say. He has brought me men to speak into my life, to be accountable to and has given me a boldness I have never experienced in my faith.

As wonderful as that sounds the battles are still raging and the pain of redemption and purification continues.

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...