What I've been thinking and what I've been reading for you to compare notes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

God Does it Again!

Back in June I shared how God answered a prayer for a new guitar. (See my blog dated June 13, 2006 - "Guitar Prayer Precisely Answered.") It was around the time of my 50th birthday and family and friends (by the hand of Providence) pitched in with the exact amount of the prayed-for instrument.

Fast forward to November and my wife Deb's 50th birthday celebration. I knew all along what I wanted to get her: a Korg electronic stage piano, model SP-300, just like the one she plays every Sunday at church and practices on every Monday night at Worship Team rehearsals. She was always saying how great it would be to have one at home to use and enjoy. I even knew what it was going to cost me and so I had hustled up the money (with God's help) - planning on marching into the store the week of her birthday and laying down the greenbacks - lots of 'em - for my sweetheart's birthday wish.

When I got to the store - the same one from which we had purchased the church's piano - the salesman told me that, not only did Korg not make this model anymore - but the newer model replacing it didn't have built-in speakers - a feature Deb would definitely need to play at home since we do not have an amplifier. Furthermore he announced that the replacement models wouldn't be in until the following week.

Being the mild-mannered man that I am (ha!), I cooly breathed a prayer to God that went something like this: "Dear God - help!"

Bass player Jeff Woodbury had dropped by the church earlier in the week to fix some broken speakers in his amp and had mentioned a Korg SP-300 in a guy's home that was basically new and probably for sale.

Long story shortened: I picked it up the morning of Deb's birthday for less than half the cost of the unit when it sold new in the stores.

God is good!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Men's Secret Wars by Patrick Means - Part I

With the recent tragic fall of Ted Haggard, Mega-church pastor and President of the National Association of Evangelicals, I want to blog a few quotes and comments from a book that came out ten years ago - "Men's Secret Wars" by Patrick Means, published by Revell in 1996.

Sadly, the author speaks of moral failure from personal experience: "...discovery of my extramarital affair (resulted in) immediate dismissal from the ministry in which I had served for almost twenty years." (Page 8)

Page 18 - "Far too often in the Christian community we overfocus on strength and external success and scorn weakness and failure. If we do ever struggle with temptation and failure, we're expected to replace it with instant victory. A popular book sold in Christian bookstores a few years ago was, 'Now is Your Time to Win!' In bold letters under the title, the jacket trumpeted, 'You can bounce back from failure to success in 30 seconds!' I don't know about you, but the failures that have trouble me are not the kind I can 'bounce back' from in thirty seconds."

Means continues, "Men who live in this kind of hero subculture are especially vulnerable. In my own case I had assumed that because I'd been a Christian since I was a child, knew the Bible well, and loved the Lord, I could never fail the way I did. Many other Christian men now tell me they feel the same way. What's at work here is a false sense of security - the 'it could never happen to me syndrome.'"

"But this overemphasis on success and strength is actually the opposite of the biblical value system. Over and over the Scripture warns us against relying on our human strength. Repeatedly we're exhorted to own our weaknesses, rather than cover them up."

Page 35 - "As adult men, a major step in being conformed to the image of Christ occurs when we take responsibility for rewriting our lifescripts, instead of blindly following them."

YOU WILL HAVE TO READ THE BOOK TO GET THE GIST OF MEANS' "LIFESCRIPTS" CONCEPT. Basically, we grow up with certain views of ourself and the world around us that are often wrong. These need to be replaced with biblical lifescripts.

For instance, the "caretaker roll" is often adopted by a man trying to cover for the absence or passivity of one of his parents. (Page 40) He may take good care of his family, be super-responsible, self-sacrificing, serious, and hard working, but he is perched on a dangerous cliff unless he gains certain insights from God.

Page 41 - Men must "rewrite the rules...rescript the roles....and reprogram the recordings" For example, the Apostle Paul exemplifies the driven, high-achieving hero (he describe himself as a "Pharisee of the Pharisees") who eventually surrendered hsi false role to become a "bond-servant of Jesus Christ."

Which lead Means to this most practical piece of advice: "...take yourself off the pedestal as often as anyone tries to put you on it."

Other lifescripts that need rewriting include "The Rebel: The deliberate hard to lower everyone's expectations of his performance...deliberately underfunctioning."

Page 47: "The Caretaker - Focusing too much on others and their neediness becomes a good way to avoid focusing on his own neediness...Caretakers are really just Controllers...looking for ways to manage others' lives in the name of helping them."

Page 49 - "Sorting through old, distorted messages that play in our minds and steal our joy ranks among the most liberating acts of spiritual obedience we can perform. When we discard the old messages and plug in the truth, we sense new freedom and experience fresh growth. Many of our current behaviors - our reactions, defensiveness, depression - have little to do with our immediate circumstances and everything to do with old voices we have allowed to resonate in our minds for decades."