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.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Matthew West - The Motions

This might hurt, it's not safe
But I know that I've gotta make a change
I don't care if I break,
At least I'll be feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

No regrets, not this time
I'm gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love make me whole
I think I'm finally feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of this life

'Cause I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

take me all the way (take me all the way)
take me all the way ('cause I don't wanna go through the motions)
take me all the way (I know I'm finally feeling something real)
take me all the way

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

take me all the way (take me all the way)
take me all the way (I don't wanna go, I don't wanna go)
take me all the way (through the motions)
take me all the way

I don't wanna go through the motions

Friday, February 06, 2009

Those Sneaky Agreements - John Eldredge

So, Stasi and I have been writing a book together for the past many months. (It’s on marriage). Through the holidays I was pretty much chained to the computer, trying to get it done by January 15. I took Christmas Eve and day off, and New Years day (which is my son Blaine’s birthday), but the rest of the time it was write, write, write. I felt like I barely saw the holidays.

Now, I love writing. Of all the things I do, I enjoy it the most and I think it might be where I shine best. But I noticed that my heart was getting heavy when I woke up in the morning; I found my energy to write had slipped away.

I was sitting at my desk, feeling blah. But instead of just muscling through the malaise, forcing myself to write, I stopped and asked God, “Lord, have I made some agreements here about this book?”


Right away I could sense the Spirit revealing some things to me. “That dam# book” was one of them; not said in malice or cursing, but more in the spirit of resignation, “Well, I’ve got to get back to that dam# book.” Another agreement was, “I don’t really enjoy this.” A third was, “I don’t really like the subject of marriage; I wish I was writing on something else.” NONE of these were true. But they had snuck in, over time, and I had very subtly made an agreement with them.

Sneaky. Very sneaky.

Knowing how damaging agreements can be, knowing how they pin our hearts down and give the enemy a place to work in our lives, I stopped and broke them. Each of them. Out loud. “I do like this; I love writing. I do care about marriage; I reject that agreement” and so on.

The effect was almost instantaneous. In but a few moments, my heart was light, I was looking forward to the day, my inspiration for writing returned.

Take agreements seriously, dear friends. Ask God to reveal to you the ones you’ve been making. Sometimes the “revealing” will come when you make the agreement again, you catch yourself saying it out loud and you realize, “Wow – that’s an agreement.” Sometimes it’s something that plays “in your head,” in your thought life. Sometimes the Lord will speak to you what it is, or show you the topic you’ve got to look at. However it comes, he will show you.

Then, break them. It’ll do you a great good.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

--Rudyard Kipling

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Goodbye Cowboy

I have been enthralled by John Eldredge's sequel to "Wild At Heart" called "The Way Of The Wild At Heart". I think I am challenged even more by this book than I was when reading the original. Though there are many things that have peaked my interest, the stages of a man are what I am enjoying most, analyzing where I am at and where I am going.
Though the stages are fluid John contends that you cannot really pass into the next until you have completed it. I realized I have been a cowboy for far to long. There are both positives and negatives in this stage, and God has a balance just like everything else. The cowboy on on the far right of the spectrum becomes Peter Pan, forever a boy, abdicating his responsibilities. I am sure you either know or know of a Peter Pan, these are the guys whose Mom is still buying them groceries and paying their bills. Playing video games all day or engrossed in some sort of hobby or sport that occupies all their time, energy and thoughts. Or maybe they are a thrill seeker always looking for that next great adrenaline high snowboarding in the mountains or bungee jumping off a bridge.
On the far left we have what John refers to as the kitchen window boy. This is the man that because of his own fears or the fears of those closest to him has declared that life is too dangerous and chooses to be a spectator, not taking the risks and or embracing the "danger" that comes naturally to a boy\man. He is generally unfulfilled with his life but it is safe.
When I look back on my life I can see how I have bounced back and forth between the two. Maturity comes when you can balance both and ride the line between. Accepting the "wild side" and embracing it but knowing that it in itself will not bring fulfillment.
I know my wife has waited many years to see the cowboy ride off into the sunset. There is something attractive about the cowboy, his freedom of spirit, his dreams but it is always the desire of the woman that he will pass through this stage and become the warrior she sees inside. The problem is, many of us don't see the warrior ourselves and wallow in "cowboyness" way too long.
The biggest question of the cowboy is "do I have what it takes?". This is where the role of a a father is so important for a boy. Through training and discipleship he has the power like no other in a boys life to bring a boy to a place where he can affirm his son and say "yes, you have what it takes".
That is why Matthew 3:17 chokes me up "and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." Basically, God is saying "Go get em boy". If Jesus needed that from his father before starting his ministry, how much more do we earthly men need that affirmation.
I used to grieve, my heart would literally ache when I came to the realization that my father would never bestow this on me. Thank God for Jesus, he came to this world to die for me, and now I am restored to my rightful place, as the son of my true Father God. And He HAS affirmed me, He has said I have what it takes!
There is still a desire in me a blessing from and earthy father, whether biological or spiritual, but I don't need to wait for that any longer. At this point it would be an unexpected blessing, the cherry on top of the whipped cream (if I liked cherries but the example suffices). Goodbye "Cowboy Joe", awaken The Warrior!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Process Of Manhood

We have no respect for due process anymore. Our society is making us more and more accustomed to instant gratification so that when we do have to wait, it grinds on our rights and feels wrong. We don't have to wait for our meals or coffee. If I want to get a hold of you I don't have to wait, I can call, email or text you, instantly. There is no waiting to have our photos developed, with digital cameras it is instant. Even our fashion has been affected by our instant world. If you bought a pair of jeans, it typically would come from the factory, perfect material and color. Now, that desired character can be bought, pre-ripped and pre-faded. Character that can be bought and worn immediately.
God is a God of process, if you want and oak tree, you have to start with an acorn. If you want a bible, it is written over the course of a thousand years, penned by a hundred different saints. If you want a man, you need to start with a boy.
The process of becoming a man does not happen instantaneously, it is a time tested formula that needs to age not unlike a good wine. The lie that many of us fall into is that we can get where we want to be without the process.
Ironically, a movie that illustrates the due process of a man very well is a childs cartoon. I have never looked at the movie Lion King this way until it was pointed out to me, but there are actually many "coming of age" stories out there that illustrate stages from boyhood to manhood.
In the Lion King you have a cub, Simba that is enjoying the ways of a boy, smart pranks, taking risks with out a care in the world. He looks, talks and acts like a boy even to the point of his mommy bathing him. His father loves him, tries to focus the youngsters energy and even saves his life. This stage is simply the "Beloved Son" stage.
Then tragedy strikes, his father is killed and like many men we may know he is all of a sudden he is thrust into another stage of life. This next stage sees him running from all he has known and all he is destined to become and he forgets who he is. He lives life without responsibility and thrives in immaturity. This stage is the "Cowboy" stage.
Next he meets Nala, and falls in love and moves into another stage of life, being called to be the "lover" of a woman. They have a perfect relationship until she realizes that the one she loves is a coward and running from his destiny. Amidst his pain he runs from her and runs into the monkey Rafiki, who is able to lead him back to father to embrace his destiny. Simba as the rightful heir to the throne and he runs back to his homeland to battle his evil uncle and take back the kingship, here for the first time we see him rise to the occasion and we see him as a "The Warrior".
The final stage though less eventful than the others is just as important as it completes the other stages, it adds a period to the sentence of Simba's life, this is the stage of King. We see a new wisdom in his face as he surveys his subjects bowing to him, honor and justice has been restored in the land.
Those are the four stages of manhood, the boy, the cowboy, the warrior and the king.
The more I think about it, if this weren't a cartoon, and the story played out with some macho character I think this movie cold be seen as gritty as any other guy flick like Braveheart or Gladiator.
I think it is interesting to note that a mid-life crisis usually finds a man feeling like he has missed a stage in his life and many times he reverts back to the cowboy stage, often times abdicating his responsibilities but that's for another discussion.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Heart Motivations

I am feeling a little low the last couple days, God has been downloading a lot of stuff to me and most of it has been very convicting. I am thankful for people who God had placed in my life to point out the things I don't see, but honestly it is really hard to hear sometimes. I have been the "nice guy" for so much of my life, nice guys don't have faults, and they are really humble in a prideful way.
I have become really passionate about a men's ministry tool called "Men's Fraternity", which has really impacted me on my healing journey. Naturally since it has helped me so much I have gotten really passionate about bringing it to other men so that they may enjoy the freedom that I have been given. But there was something that just has not been sitting right with me, and has given me a caution. When promoting the material to others I have felt like a salesman and my spirit really questions that. Should we ever have to try to sell God? Of course not! God living inside of us should impact those around us that they want what we have.
Just yesterday morning I was having breakfast when God just spoke to me while I was text messaging Darcy. When I heard it I didn't want to believe it, but I knew it was the truth. The reason I have been so passionate about bringing Men's Fraternity to other men is really speaking of the insecurities inside of me. Deep down my feelings have been that I have nothing to offer myself.
I have never realized until now how dishonoring that is to God, after all it is He who is doing the healing in me, not a program. He is the one who has brought my heart to a point where it can be molded and used for his purposes. God does use programs, organizations and people but He is the one behind it all.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6

It is amazing how you can fool yourself, and tell yourself that I am doing what I am doing for God's glory and not for my own. This is especially true when it comes to doing things in the Church or for some sort of ministry. After all it is for God, how can it be wrong.
I have enough on my plate right now, but I know from past experience that one of the scariest prayer I have prayed was for God to reveal things in my heart that I did not know where there.

Optimus Prime, Father To The Fatherless

In 1986, the original Prime did something that distinguished him from most other cartoon heroes. He died. He died for freedom, for righteousness”. Scott Brown of Wired Magazine goes on to assert that American culture American males are looking forward to the July 4th release of the “live-action” Transformers movie for “more than galvanic summer thrills or simple nostalgia. They’re looking for redemption, as men.”

“Prime practically parented the latchkey kids of the mid-”80s. He was our Allfather at a time when flesh-and-blood role models were increasingly few and far between”.

I remember scrambling to the television when voice actor Peter Cullen would command the troops to “Roll out!” and my second father with a voice like John Wayne playing Abraham Lincoln would contort into a Mack Truck, rev his engine, and roll his crushing 16-wheels down the heroic highway, barreling over the face of evil with unstoppable resolve. An action figure, Rubik’s cube, and Tonka toy all rolled into one, combined with an unshakable morality and sacrificial love, even the “tech specs” on his packaging in 1984 proclaimed his mission to bring freedom to “all sentient beings”. 23 years later, his steely face is plastered on a poster with a single word: “protect”. It’s no wonder so many boys laid their weekly allowance on the energon altar.

Little did we know it would do more than simply enhance merchandising; it would give a generation something to believe in when dad and the local parish had failed; it would give boys an animated role model. and perhaps even a Cybertronian god.

This is why so many people I know are polarized: excited or exacerbated, feverish or furious, titillated or ticked off, by the Michael Bay directed / Steven Spielberg produced return of Optimus and the bots, transforming into box office revenue on 2007’s Independence Day.

The question on everyone’s lips: “When Papa comes truckin’ home, will we recognize him?”

With a lack of faith in earthly fathers, and lacking a relationship with God, who is our Father, I can see the grand attraction of a robot that is both “Optimal” and in his “Prime”. Intentional or not, there is something godlike built into the stoic Autobot Commander, a titanium trinity imaging a loving Father, a sacrificial Son, and even an indwelling Spirit represented by the “Matrix of Leadership” he carries in his heart (or cab). To a lesser degree, he also represents a rugged, brass-knuckle, rubber-meets-the-road manliness that contemporary culture has slowly leeched from its men. Optimus Prime is a desperate grab for God, daddy, and lost masculinity.

“With bated breath and shaken faith we await the return of our Almighty Rig. Because without Prime, we’re stuck with whiney Spider-boys, metrosexual pirates, and koan-spouting kung-fu Christs in designer sunglasses and unisex clubwear. Because these days, the only real men left are giant robots.”

Just a toy? Purely nostalgia? I don't think so. Truly, there is something going on here that is more than meets the eye.

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...