Wow, so its been awhile since I posted here. My apologies men. It's been quite a journey since we stepped back from pastoring in Oregon. While my heart would love to focus my full efforts on this ministry, my hands have been busy simply providing for my family in this transition. I'm grateful that the Lord has provided, but it's honestly been tiring. Many days on the roof, and then the summer was spent as a Camp Director. And the journey continues as we see what the Lord has for the next season as we continue to do whatever it takes to make ourselves available to encouraging today's family.
Here are a few real thoughts from my journey today that I hope will be encouraging to you on your journey...
Men, my heart is heavy for you, my sons, my grandsons. And I must admit, my heart can just be heavy for me. If I just focus on the sad state of men, how we are hated by our culture, how we have been engulfed by our culture…it can truly pull me down into the depths never to return. Each day more of our brothers on the journey up fall down. Some never get back up. That’s exactly what our Enemy is shooting for. Take out the man’s heart and he will either take down his family himself, or he will step aside and let our perverted culture have its way. Our heart has a target painted on it. And every day Satan is shooting strategically at you and me. How will we respond?
The heart of the issue today IS the heart. More specifically it’s Your heart. The heart of the man. You can’t guard your home from the Enemy if you don’t first “Guard your own heart for it is the wellspring of life.”
If I were in my 20’s or even in my early 30’s, this blog would confidently give you lots of vision for how you should journey up. As I look back over the years, the sermons, the conversations, I see that I had good-intentioned passion, but the Lord was just beginning to build my com-passion.
As I journey through my mid-forties, my heart is telling me I’d better be real with you. Yes, I do want to share vision with you that has guided my heart through many challenging seasons and led me to deep and wide blessings from the Lord. But I write, I live, as your brother on the journey up. And my mid-life heart tells me I better tend to it, or I’m due for a heart attack. I’m not speaking only about that beating organ in our chest that pumps blood through our body, though it is definitely a vital part. No, I’m talking about something much deeper. The inmost part of your being. The essence of your manhood. The center of what makes you who you are. And who you are is radically influenced by what your heart has come to believe over the years.
When you’ve grown up in the church and pastored most of your adult life in the church, you learn how to say what you should say. But that doesn’t mean that your own heart isn't also wrestling with the continual lies that Satan feeds us on our journey. Often we don’t know what our heart truly has embraced until it is too late. Now before you think I'm saying I don't fully believe everything I've stood for, please don't misunderstand my heart. I can honestly say that by God's grace I fully believe everything I've been taught about my Lord from infancy. I'm just wanting to acknowledge that along the way in life our hearts also have little lies slipped in that try to twist God's truths and keep us from ever finding that place where His Truth meets Grace.
Our heart is deep waters (Proverbs 20:5). And the monsters that can live down there are more terrifying than anything “Sharkweek” might bring to us. Most men can hide their monsters for years, even decades. Those beliefs that our heart has embraced without us even knowing. We have energy to keep up the facade. But even the strongest willed man, will finally weaken.
When we lash out and swear, or have an affair, that’s not your brain talking, that’s your heart reacting. Giving you a wake up call to what God alone can and desperately needs to touch. We need His Holy Spirit through His Holy Word to penetrate deep into our heart and set us free (Hebrews 4:12).
Brothers, when I can encourage you from my strength I will courageously do that. Yet I also want to be real in my weakness.
While I am extremely blessed to have an amazing marriage and twelve awesome children, and life-long friends all across the country, my heart wants more. In my flesh, I am not content. I can tell that God is sending me through a mid-life refining that will define the rest of my life.
Only through the Spirit’s help, and my dear bride who boldly journeys with me can I even begin to see some of the murky monsters that are surfacing out of the deep in my heart. Here’s one of the beliefs that I’m doing battle against. I’m guessing I might not be the only one.
My heart is telling me that my self-worth is much more tied to my earthly-worth than my eternal worth. I know better than that. I know that “where my treasure is, there’s my heart also… so don’t store up treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19-21).” But, as my journey through life has often been on the wrong side of “compounding interest,” its revealed what I truly value. I love my children, I just love cash too. Convenience too. And the respect my culture gives me if I have it.
There I said it. My heart has a deep desire to be respected. That’s the deeper monster. I want to be king of an earthly kingdom that will be respected by everyone. Not just a few. Everyone. And honestly my world doesn’t dish out too much respect to the man, and especially the man who desires to journey up with God’s Word & Spirit as his guide.
And if I don’t deal with these true beliefs that lurk in my heart, men I could destroy the deepest blessings the Lord has given me on earth. My precious wife and children. They offer me daily their hearts, their respect. But they can’t fulfill my deepest desires. Only my Creator God can.
I am grateful that the Lord in His love is revealing these monsters that terrify and paralyze my heart. I want to journey up to freedom in my forties. If that’s your desire, then brother you are in the right place. Obviously not because I am perfect, but because God is perfect. And His perfect love is ready to cast out our fear (I John 4:18). Fears that have been forged through our forties and beyond. Or fears that are just beginning to grow in our hearts as young men.
Men, we can have courage for our climb today, because our Father loves and respects us! Let’s do whatever it takes to lead our hearts to desire His Eternal Respect over any earthly respect that might come our way.
Courage men, by God’s grace, courage!