Friday, January 23

Present connection to the past....the Truth remains unchanged.....

"Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works." Psalm 145:3-5

Irenaeus (2nd century AD - c. 202) was the Bishop of Lugdunum, Gaul in the Roman Empire (modern day Lyons, France), an early Church father and apologist, (who was discipled by Polycarp whom it is recorded that "He had been a disciple of John") felt compelled to write about the heresies that were being promoted a scant 100 or so years after the monumental events of Christ's triumph.

Corruption, introduced by the omission of Adam (who turned to his own understanding and abilities despite evidence that God was indeed capable, more so than he) and the culpability of Eve in the eviction from the Garden, had already started to distort and mislead many from the Truth lived and reported by the original apostles and passed on to their disciples in the tradition and commission that Christ established the Church.

We see the broad and sweeping evidence in today's society of what happens as man co-ops and recreates truth, rejecting the very absolute authority of the definer and creator of such Truth, into a more palpable and easily manipulated version of subjective truth. The Church has undergone man-made designs, changes not ill-concieved or maliciously adopted, that have done more harm and destruction than advancement of the Gospel because of the agendas, both hidden and known, of man to adapt the Truth to culture rather than bring the culture to the Truth.

As we have watched the epic and historical process of governance in our nation's tradition, those who would have once accepted and believe such absolutes can be whittled down, through the cheap and often self-serving subtleties humanity visits upon itself, to the degree that what was once subtle differences of theological opinion have filtered their way into the erosion of core Truth, at least in the perception of Man, to the point where the original bears no resemblance to the current copy promoted.

As Irenaeus says in the beginning of his writing, AGAINST HERIESES, "by means of their craftily-constructed plausibilities draw away the minds of the inexperienced and take [those] captives."

"Error," Irenaeus continues, "is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward from, to make it to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself."

That is why the teaching from Scott Engelman about the 'nice guy' so disrupted and disturbed me, carrying through to the Able Men meeting the following day to the point of seriously pondering that maybe such an association with "men humble in their own brokenness, and living in the gratitude of His mercies beyond measure" who are pursuing God's call upon them to impact men (by leading in God's community those values and morals designed and subsequently abused by a fallen humanity) was not where I, in my spiritual growth, was yet capable of serving faithfully and effectively in and why I should leave the group…because of the vestiges of 'nice guy' that haunt my story and my walk.

For the 'nice guy', as Engelman points out and Irenaeus echoes from the halls of history, "error" dresses itself up to be attractive and is the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing……often mistaken in the lofty places of our community of faith as 'godly Christians'. And within the structure given in the teachings of the make-up of the 'nice guy' lie truth within the story and the agenda that I default to in the wounds of my story.

In Engelman's discussion, the 'nice guy' has the following characteristics that culminate in the "I will avoid chaos by hiding from it"-ology of relationship styles of masculinity……

He is more socially acceptably helpless, requiring those to come to his 'aid' through the hassle-free relational style to others…..i.e. 'You can't be upset with me, I'm a nice guy!' Through the manipulation of his 'nice guy attitude', he promotes a 'personal choice' of rescue from others, where they feel that such rendering of aid is of their own volition and yet remains disengaged from a deeper relational bond with other men.

Too often, Engelman points out, the dysfunctional 'nice guy' is discovered to be bland, dull, and internally dead bringing those within his relational circles to feel guilty because they recognize this 'dazzling dud' but blame themselves because of the clothing the nice guy offers…….

The conviction felt by this dysfunctional masculinity is based in self-contempt and lack of wisdom; for surely he would change if he only knew how and it is your 'job' to hope for the change to come. "I want to change, but don't know how…." Can anybody else see the wise, young ruler who asked what it took to follow Christ and went away saddened by the answer?

The 'nice guy' isn't alone in this dysfunctional masculinity and shares with the other types Engelman talks about in the last M3 meeting the core statement:
"I feel weak and afraid to powerfully enter into and to shape my world as a man so I will work hard to avoid and compensate for my inadequacies."

RED ALERT!! RED ALERT!! Core wound breached……we're going DOWN!!!! That is what I felt in the depth of my heart as I listened to this teaching…..Though I am not all these things, I can recognize enough to see the cracks in the hull……

But in that darkness, where the upset and self-loathing of a disrupted soul resides is the realization of recognizing and mourning the loss of true masculine purpose; to be a blessing and to create the environment for life in the chaos and darkness of this world…..kinda like realizing that you want to breathe, but can't because your own hands are choking you……being counter-purposed to our own desire of living a Godly designed masculinity.

As a brother in Christ (BIC)said, "Knowing is half the battle." When we realize the agenda our broken and sinful masculinity has, we can recognize when we are relating in those disrupted styles and surrender our tendencies to God's manipulations. As one of my mentors and BsIC said, "God will direct and guide you in your darkness [of your dysfunctional relational style]."

This isn't just a masculine thing….its a broken, sinful humanity thing.

I spent last night watching God move, in answering to prayer, in the lives of those that have intersected and been engaged in this journey, and how the realization, or return, to the absolute authority and truth of Jesus Christ is always an inspiring and hopeful thing; a realization of the joy that the Holy Spirit makes available to those who believe in the processes of this corrupt and chaotic world of broken creation.

And thinking how sadly it is because of the very nature of humanity's sinful self-preservation (and the wounds that we cause our children, our families, and loved ones) that the immediate following thoughts (far beyond the praises of God's loving and merciful nature of forgiving and empowering the very return of such to the fold and the stepping out in answering to the calling to purpose) that I looked for the hidden agendas in the methods and words of such displayed realizations of those prayers simply because of past histories and wounded experiences..

I was built to be a blessing, to bring life in the context of chaos and darkness where the light of life's heartbeat can be grown. That is my warrior purpose, and one that I've recognized too often I use for my own purposes.

"They also overthrow the faith of many, by drawing them away, under a pretence of [superior] knowledge, from Him who rounded and adorned the universe;" Irenaeus states, "as if, forsooth, they had something more excellent and sublime to reveal, than that God who created the heaven and the earth, and all things that are therein."

And therein, even in the midst of such uncertainty of the sinful tendencies of my 'nice guy' wounds, lies the answer of the assurance of –no matter how zigzagged or hazy the path I stride upon borne of the free will choices I have made and the interactions of the choices also borne of free will of those that intersect and blend into my pathway ---I walk a path towards the hope assured and the desired relationship with my Creator, because I know my old self and have seized upon him to embrace his brokenness I hide and gaze at the Father's face as a prodigal once more.

Peter's question echoes in my head under the wise and heartfelt counsel given in both the personal disruption and the chaos visited upon those who intersect my world….."Lord, should I forgive my brother seven times?" And Christ's response of "Seventy times seven."

History shows me that the tendency of mankind is to allot such a limitation upon the number of times that we may visit upon each other the corruption of our sinful desire to protect ourselves and establish upon the chaos of our lives the order to which Adam believed himself (and thus our thoughts too) capable of. I will treat you nicely, but without substance and depth.

And, yet, in the realization of the powerful and righteous nature of the God I follow (who has forgiven me daily for the sins known and unknown that have coursed through this fallen structure), my course of action does not allow me the luxury of the temporary satisfaction of manipulating the world around me according to my own experiences and wounds, for I must be able to forgive and give without reservation because of the forgiveness I myself have partook of and continue to do so on a daily basis of need.

I must move within the chaos to bring that which I have been designed to bring, absent of my agenda and my requirements, but set upon the realization of provision of acceptance that Christ purchased for me with His blood.

To essentially believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to move within the lives of those who have caused the greatest pain to redeem them and inspire those who fearfully contemplate dreams denied despite overwhelming and possibly limiting mountains to overcome…….and through the desire to know and walk with the superiority of relationship with God, by its very nature, have to be willing to be hurt very severely should the redemption of another prove false and the dreams of one fall into despair.

To dare to reach into the lion's jaws, absent of my own agenda, and stay the course of God's absolute truth. Even to the expense of my own preservation and the lost of that precious agenda that everyone, myself included, has.

To fall upon the sword of another for the testimonial and redemption of an outsider, someone maybe that is not even involved in the circles I inhabit, with all of my body screaming against such unwise and foolish actions. I want to protect myself; from pain, from sorrow, and even from the disappointment of evil's influence.
Even at the expense that such sacrifice we may give (as we are guilty of doing with Christ's purchase of our punishment upon the Cross) would not be realized at that moment ---indeed, if ever.

Even in the darkness of our own dysfunctional relational styles, there is a hope that shines brighter than our own understanding and it is through our refusal to allow the base, sinful old self the power and effort to protect ourselves that we find such hope simply buried in the filth of our own sinful desires of self-protection and service.

"For even as gold, when submersed in filth, loses not on that account its beauty," Irenaeus says, "but retains its own native qualities, the filth having no power to injure the gold….."

Our righteousness, once given through the grace and mercy of Christ cannot be tarnished or diminished in the realization of our own brokenness but rather uncovered and allowed to be treasured and shown as our dependence upon the Creator's design.

Live to be a blessing……and be blessed beyond your own capabilities……

As a husband,

As a father,

And as a man desirous and in full pursuit of God…..


Anonymous said...

You quote a man named Scott Engelman here. I was shocked to see that, as I have had a terribly negative experience with Scott Engelman. In my opinion, this man has an underlying (but sometimes too obvious) desire to dominate and debase women, including his wife, who I know personally.

I am somewhat old-fashioned and still believe in biblical structure for marriage, including submission with mutual respect, however, my experience with Scott E. has revealed to me that his personal ideas and attitudes are severely lacking in respect and regard for women in general. -and my opinion has been reflected to me from many men who have regularly attended his M3 Men's group, as well.

Just FYI...

Navalpride said...

Well, first off there are two problems that I see with your comments, anonymous. If you are old fashion/biblically structured kind of person, then you should know that accusations are made with names attached....being anonymous solves nothing and generates discord among the brethren (family of God).

Secondly, I am wondering what happened with you that would cause you to say "his personal ideas and attitudes are severely lacking in respect and regard for women in general" and have had that opinion reflected back to you by men who attend M3.

I can show you several teachings (and audio to back it up) where the bibical structure of marriage is very much a part of the M3 teaching and in fact, women are reflected more in esteem and respect than any other teaching I have listened to. If men who attend M3 are reflecting your opinion, they are going against what I have listened to being taught.

I wonder if there is something that is coloring your perception.

I wonder why, if you know Scott's wife personally, if that is related to this surprising comment you posted.
Either way....I don't general refuse to post comments