Three Lies We Use Not to Be in Community

The Lies We Use

“God did not bring you to this point of life to make you His first orphan.” – Wes Yoder

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about three reasons from Ecclesiastes that we need to be in community with other men. This week I’m going to dissect some of the lies we tell ourselves and others to not join that community. I’m going to tell you straight off this one is not going to be easy to read. It is going to be convicting. I’m going to call bull on your arguments for why you’ve been going it alone. And before you start saying “judge not” and “it’s easy for you to say”, I’ve given all of these excuses too. I’m right with you brother. I need a dose of reality too because, as of this writing, I’m not in a close community of men either.

 Lie 1 – I’m Too Busy

The most frequently given answer to “How are you doing?” (aside from “Good”) is “Busy”. Busy is an answer we use to give an impression of importance, to justify our lack of self control over our schedules, or to avoid having to say no to something else. But, we’re not too busy. We make time for what’s important. How much TV do you watch? How much time do you spend on Facebook ? Don’t get me wrong, there are seasons of busyness in life. What I’m calling out is a lifestyle of chronic busyness.

 There is no such thing as time management; there is only self-management. – Rory Vaden

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to realize the brevity of life so that we may grow in wisdom.” The truth is life is short. We’ve not been guaranteed another minute. Want to be a better father? Husband? Want to grow in your relationship with Christ? Those can not be done in isolation. Put your time where your heart is. Stop lying that you’re too busy. You’re not.

 Lie 2 – I Don’t Need To

You may honestly believe this. But the easiest person to lie to is yourself. We were designed to live in community. We are at our best when others are looking out for us and we are looking out for others. How many healthy (mentally, spiritually) loners do you know?

Men, we’ve got it tough. Think of the roles you have in life. Father, husband, home IT support, mechanic, domestic groundskeeper, domicile maintenance, counselor, mentor, friend, neighbor. It’s a ton! Don’t make it harder on yourself by thinking you can do it all alone. Still not convinced? You’ve been given experiences, skills, and talents that need to be shared with other men. Stop robbing the rest of us of that help by living in community.

 Lie 3 – Only The Weak Do Stuff Like This

The reality is that real weakness is hiding our “weaknesses”. You are truly weak if you believe this lie. Pride in turning down help is weakness. True strength is being humble enough to accept that you might have it wrong. True strength is trying out something scary, doing things that you don’t “like” to do but “need” to do.

We all know that we’re not perfect. We all know that the rest of us aren’t as strong as we make out to be. We’re not hiding anything. And when it comes down to it, we are all weak in comparison with the only truly strong man to have lived, Jesus.

 What’s Next?

Society tells us we don’t need community. We tell ourselves that we don’t need it. But we’ve been given a model in Jesus that community is where we need to be. When He started his ministry on earth, he gathered around him 12 “brothers”. He mentored them, taught them, and they were there for each other. In the dark days they were there for each other. In the celebrations they were together.

 

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another

Hebrews 10:25 NIV

 

Next time we’ll look at what makes up a community of men.

 

Are any of these lies valid excuses? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Stay Sharp!

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On Being a Contrarian

two paths

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2

 

From outside appearances my life is very common, but it’s not because my thinking is. I find great joy in challenging the status quo, even though those epic battles rarely leave the space between my ears. In fact I have so much disdain for the routine that how and when I brush my teeth each morning is completely random. I am a rebel! CARPE DIEM!

The truth is I don’t do this often enough but I should. I revel in not doing the things I am told I should be doing. I take great satisfaction in the daily bombardment of fast food advertising, knowing full well that I will never eat any of that garbage. Billions of advertising dollars? Wasted on me! I rule you!

And in my stronger moments when the culture tells me that sex sells and women are objects to be exploited I am able to stand up with resolve, appreciate God’s beauty in all things and say with confidence that my standard of beauty is found in my wife.

Those are my stronger moments. But oh how often I fail. Paul’s words ring in my ears frequently and I think, “What a wretched man I am!”

It is easy for me to analyze my many failures and try to re-engineer them. If only I did this differently. Next time I should avoid that and things will turn out better. I must be stronger and work harder if I want improved outcomes.

Of course these are lies that ultimately lead to no change, no improvement, no salvation. I cannot do it alone.

“’Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit’ says the Lord Almighty.” (Zec 4:6)

I no more have the strength to take on the world than I have the power to create it. I must rely on the power of the Creator of the Universe. He seeks relationship with me, and for some reason I resist that. And that is when I fail.

Which is why I find so much joy when I don’t do what I should do, or when I do those things I should not do. It is in those moments that I feel the presence of the Lord guiding me. Oh what joy to be a contrarian!

You can learn from my mistakes or you can learn from your own, but I hope you will join me in experiencing the tremendous satisfaction that comes from witnessing God’s amazing power. When life gives you trouble, as it surely will, try the following:

  • Humble yourself and admit that you do not have the strength to win this battle. Acknowledge on bended knee that God has succeeded where you could not.
  • Pray for His strength and power to carry you.
  • Listen and be attentive. What is asked of you may be difficult and it will certainly be challenging. Doing the right thing is rarely easy in this world.
  • Prepare to be filled with the joy that knows no bounds.
  • Don’t keep it to yourselves. God wants you to succeed so that others may experience His love and mercy.

I look forward to an amazing journey with you all!

Not yet… I’m not ready!

Change- Transitions

Transitions in life seem to be sometimes unexpected, difficult at worst and unsettling at best. So how do you deal with them? Maybe your young child has moved onto the next phase… maybe your oldest has moved out… maybe it’s a new job or house… a loss of a loved one. Sometimes it’s a change in mindset or one of those “aha” moments that forever changes your view on life. So, how do you cope?

Let’s be clear… closing the door, hiding under the bed, or covering your eyes and ears hoping it will all go away are not helpful solutions… even though they may be effective for brief moments! Going fishing, drinking more beer, watching more sports… immersing yourself in whatever hobby or self-medication of choice also doesn’t work and sometimes makes it even worse. So what do you do?

Some things to think about and do when faced with change and transition…

  1. Pray… for guidance, discernment, courage and wisdom… and then listen (that’s a hard one for me)!
  2. Seek God’s wisdom from scripture… marinate in His words, let them seep into you, soften you up, and re-flavor your life
  3. Give yourself grace… transitions are tough, can take the wind out of your sails and take some time to get readjusted. It’s like a mourning process and you can experience all of the emotions… sadness, anger, resistance, denial and on and on… It’s okay to not have all the answers… really… and to feel… yes I used that word!
  4. Ask for help… I know this is a tough one for us guys but it really works. I would suggest asking someone to walk with you who has been through something similar. Experience is an amazing teacher! Someone 10-15 years older with a helping heart is a great place to start. I’ve got a group of guys called my “Personal Board of Directors” who have carried a lot of the load over the last few years! What a blessing they have been!
  5. Persevere… sometimes it takes pure fortitude to make it through. When you’re through it, share it!
  6. Be thankful and celebrate… for the people, for God’s presence, and for the growth experienced

Change is inevitable! What do you have in place to thrive through it? Ask for help now!

March 2016 Whetstone Newsletter

God loves us as we are, not as we should be. Brennan Manning

 

Welcome to the March 2016 edition of the Whetstone Newsletter!  If you haven’t heard, the Whetstone is honored to have three new monthly writers. Find out more about them here. This month we have 5 great articles on topics like beer and Jesus, 7 Habits of a Family that Wins, and youth sports.

On to the newsletter!

Read

I Love Beer More Than Jesus – Morgan Snyder

“And yet, right here Jesus loves us. Right here in our propensity to attach our desires to so many things other than relationship with Him, He loves us.”

I can really identify with Morgan because I like (ok, love) beer. The flavors, the colors, the aroma.  As Homer Simpsons says, “Mmmmmm, beeeeer.” But, have I given beer a place that should only be occupied by Jesus? At times, Yes! How about you? “What do you love more than Jesus?”

“Our addictions can be conduits of profound grace, for in facing them, we come face to face with our Jesus and the depth of His love for us.”

 

7 Habits of a Family That Wins Mark Timm

“I know I want a family that is strong, that can handle whatever adversity comes its way, and that is positioned to leave a legacy that matters for generations to come.”

I am really digging this series by Mark Timm. It’s a unique way of looking at family through the lens of of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Mark’s 7 habits for families are:

Care, Commitment, Character, Communication, Collaboration, Change, and Celebration. Over the next few weeks he’s going in depth on each one. I’ve linked to the ones that he’s published so far.

 

Social Media and Secret Live of American Teenage Girls Nancy Jo Sales

“Kids today are often accused of being narcissistic, but they may be learning their exhibitionist ways from their parents. Accompanying the boom in selfie culture is a rise in competitive spirit, as well as a disturbing trend of sexualization. Likes, hearts, swipes—­validation is only a tap away.”

Dads, listen up! We are called to protect our children, from others and from themselves. Nowadays predators don’t have to drive around in creepy vans to entice our children. They can find your kids’ social media profiles and “connect” with them there. Be involved, be proactive, be loving. You may tick them off, but at the very least you may keep them from seeking validation in the wrong ways and for the wrong reasons.

 

Boys Need Their Moms Tim Challies

“Boys need their moms—I am convinced of it. Even teenaged boys, boys who are nearly men.”

Ok, one for the ladies this month. Boys seem to be tough for moms to figure out. They do stuff that even they can’t explain. But, they need you. They need you to help prepare them for his future relationship with their wives. You have a great deal of influence on the man he will become.

 

Do Christian Parents Flirt with the Idol of Sports? – Todd Hill

“There’s an idolatry problem in our community related to youth sports. I see this problem every weekend as families gather at the field rather than their church. It’s a problem in my heart, too. “

We all have our idols, some are just more acceptable than others. Youth sports is one of those “accepted” idols. And it’s not just youth sports, I would add youth activities in general. And even more alarmingly, we as parents can make our children in to our idols. When we put our children’s happiness and comfort before everything else including our spouses and relationship with God we have given them a position they can’t and shouldn’t be in.

 

Listen

Why You Need a Life Plan Now – Michael Hyatt

“Far too many people drift through life, dissatisfied and nagged by regrets. But there’s one tool that can help you fight the drift and pursue the life you want. “

I really enjoy Michael’s podcasts and books. He just released a new book called, Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want. Order now and get some bonuses like a detailed action plan guide and audio training.

Watch

The Value of Aggression – Ode to Dan Gable – Tim Ferriss

“As an athlete, he had a 182-1 prep and college record. His single loss, in his final NCAA match, infuriated him. To make up for it, he out-trained the world and won the gold medal at the 1972 Munich Olympics…without surrendering a single point. This is like winning Wimbledon on serves alone.”

As a former wrestler I was very familiar with the work ethic and mythic like legend of Dan Gable.  He was just amazing as an athlete and coach.

Do

Did you miss the Whetstone’s exciting announcement? The Whetstone now has 3 monthly contributors!  Check them out here.

 

Stay Sharp!

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Exciting Whetstone Announcement!

Hey Friends!

I am honored to announce that the Whetstone has three new monthly contributors. Ken Campbell, Gavin Kaszynski, and Pastor Gerry Harrow.

 

Here’s a little bit about our new writers:

 

Ken Campbell

Ken Campbell

Sinner saved by grace and servant of Jesus, married to Chris and father of Patrick and William.  Also a thinker, reader, tinkerer, and pursuer of outdoor activities as time allows.

 

Gerry Harrow

Gerry Harrow

Jesus follower called to be a pastor after 30 years of corporate climbing… husband, dad, and grandpa trying to live an impactful life.

Keep up with Gerry at:

www.gerryharrow.com

 

Gavin Kaszynski

Gavin Kaszynski

Gavin is a contrarian from Texas who occasionally sees God in BBQ. When not playing hockey he spends time with his family and works in healthcare.

Welcome to the Whetstone’s new writers!  We are looking forward to see what you have in store for us!

Stay Sharp

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