4 Things I Learned From Reading “Growth Into Manhood: Resuming The Journey”

 

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For the past few weeks, I’ve been reading and re-reading the book “Growth Into Manhood: Resuming the Journey,” by Alan Medinger.

The reading has been both informative and challenging as it relates to Biblical Manhood. I’ve spent a lot of time reading the writings of John Eldredge, but Alam Medinger has turned out to be a good and healthy change of pace.

Medinger speaks to men who have become men physically but are still in so many ways behaving like boys. But, he also addresses men who are attempting to leave or who have left homosexuality and same-sex attraction in an attempt to embrace their God-given masculinity.

After reading the book, I’ve been able to pull 4 things from the book that has really challenged me and helped me in my own walk into Biblical Manhood:

1. “STOP Believing ‘I’m Not Like Other Guys.'”

I learned that what I needed to stop believing was that I was “other” or “different.” While yes, I was unique, as the Lord made me. But, that didn’t mean that I was not capable of becoming the man that God called me to be. And, it certainly didn’t mean that I was not like the guys.

…he felt different from other boys, and different always translated as “less than” or “inferior to.” These feelings continued through the teen years and into adulthood. Even today, in the company of other men, he feels that somehow he is not a part of their world.

Medinger, Alan. Growth into Manhood: Resuming the Journey (p. 14). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

In fact, my wife has consistently reminded me and encouraged me in more than one way, both seriously and comedically, that I’m definitely like her Father and her uncles.

I’m unique and so is my Father-In-Law and others on my wife’s side. But, like a lot of guys, I display a certain level of masculinity and even at times a kind of fun-loving and healthy “boyishness” that comes out at proper times.

But, growing up, I thought otherwise.

When I was a boy, I always felt “different.” I didn’t really care for sports and I was more interested in things like books, art and music. My personal interests and obsessions featured Meteorology and Nuclear Science.

I was often bullied and teased for the way I dressed, the way I talked and the way I acted. It also didn’t help that I was attending Special Ed courses for my less than perfect background in math and reading.

Over and over, various experiences in my boyhood kept affirming the LIE that I was “not like other guys.”

So, I isolated myself…my comic books, video games, cartoons, anime and current events and music and books kept me company.

And, I would continue stating what felt like the truth about myself:
“I don’t do what other guys do” or “that’s not my thing.” I found myself avoiding attempts at trying sports and the times I did try it wasn’t too heartfelt due to lack of self-confidence and self-esteem.

So, what would’ve and could’ve been healthy, masculine experiences with opportunities to test my manhood and grow were often missed…sometimes due to lack of mentoring and initiation. And other times due to a personal decision to avoid and keep away from the potential of feeling humiliated, embarrassed and shamed.

2. Break Down Barriers Between Yourself and Other Men.

Healthy growth into Biblical Manhood is an effort that does not occur by ones self. It is an effort that involves your daily walk in the Lord, taking in and living out the Word of God and connecting with others. In particular, other men.

Masculinity bestows masculinity, as I’ve heard others say.

 

The Lord convicted me during the reading of Medinger’s book, making me realize that I actually had a wall built up between myself and the men that I “assumed” were not like me and I not like them.

Because they did not have the same, unique, interests, or come from the same situation as I did, I felt as though I could not relate. It didn’t help either that I kept pushing the idea that I was “not like the guys.”

I prayed and broke the walls down in prayer, asking the Lord to forgive me and to help me build healthy and wholesome relationships with other men.

When those walls came falling, those emotional and mental and heart-centered and self-centered walls, I began to realize what I was missing out on in the masculine journey. In fact, I began to realize that I had just as much in common with the men at my church, the men at my job and everywhere else.

3. No Longer Live From the Place Of the Boy. Give The Lord The Boy That’s In You!

When you’re around adult men, you probably as I have before, felt really, really young. Then, the temptation comes to try and be more than who or what you really are.

You pose! You “fake it till you make it.”

This is especially true if you’re around men whom you perceive have it all together and seem to be at the pinnacle of masculinity.

And you, you feel like a little boy. For me, I felt, oh say around, 13 years old…stuck in a place of perpetual adolescence. Which made sense, because the Lord over time was showing me that that period of my life was filled with me realizing some of my gifts but not quite sure in my identity.

For a lot of men, they feel young in some place in their life…totally unprepared…unfinished…not completely mature or grown-up so to speak.

When men live in the place and space of the little boy, they never “put away childish things.” Everything is about them. It is self-preservation and selfishness and self-centeredness.

For men in this scenario, because what was supposed to be affirmed and tested in boyhood was not done so, life’s struggles cause men to fold, shutdown, give up, stay quiet, be passive and surrender.

This is where misinterpretation of life’s challenges and circumstances could take place — and confusion in boyhood comes, perhaps from mental, physical or sexual abuse or even from failures that were without mentoring or affirmation or just fear.

“…he (the boy) will soon be tested, and he will face battles and challenges as a warrior, and those tests and challenges often feel to men like a form of rejection or coldheartedness on the part of God, because he does not first know in his heart of hearts that he is…beloved.”

John Eldredge, Fathered by God, pg. 50

2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God has not given us the spirit of fear (or timidity), but of power, love and a sound mind.”

A little boy is comfortable. A little boy avoids responsibility, because responsibility can be uncomfortable. But God gives us responsibility.

Medinger, Alan. Growth into Manhood: Resuming the Journey (p. 179). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

But, what if we give the Lord the little boy in us!? What does that even look like!?

For me, it was me giving to Jesus my deepest fears, hopes, dreams, desires and hurts. It was telling him about the abuse, the bullying, the rejection and the pain behind it.

4. Devotional Time!

As much as the antidotes and stories that Medinger shared were incredibly helpful and affirming as I learn to walk out Biblical Manhood, their is one thing that Medinger said that put everything in perspective…devotional time with God in prayer and Bible study.

As much as activities for men that bond help, and, realizing the issues and wounds in your own life held you back from real faith, what helps to bring it all together and move you forward is the time you spend with God the Father and Christ Jesus.

It has been amazing how much prayer time and Bible study has really helped me. The Lord has been bringing up past wounds from my heart to heal me. He’s “restoring my soul” and giving me a “new heart.”

The 33-Year-Old Boy

During May 2017 on a late Summer Thursday evening, I returned home to my apartment after celebrating the fact I finally finished my Master’s degree.

The silence of my apartment allowed me the opportunity to let my mind relax and enjoy peace and quiet without the rush of getting homework done.

I was happy. I was relaxed. I was prepared to sit back in my recliner and do some journaling.

Everything was lining up. I just earned my Master’s in Christian Ministry, I was engaged to my fiancé and things were really looking up.

But, something was out of sorts with me late that evening. A familiar feeling began to rise up. I felt a bit embarrassed that I was even feeling the way I was feeling.

I felt young. I felt like a little boy.

To talk about this, I sat down with a friend of mine, Joshua, and had breakfast and coffee as we discussed what was going on. I told him that I felt kind of young…about…age 13.

“What makes you feel so young you think?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I responded. “I’m not sure if its just because I feel like I’m free again after working so hard on my graduate degree. Or maybe I just feel like I can have fun again!”

“Explore what that’s about?” Joshua suggested.

I did.

I spent time in prayer, seeking the Lord and reviewing scripture. Memories began to flood back…memories from the present and memories from boyhood.

I was reminded of the times that I felt young and unfinished especially when I was around other men. I felt like I was “different” and out of place.

I was then reminded of the times that I was in Elementary and Middle School. I was often bullied and hardly ever connected with other boys my age growing up. I felt completely different and completely unlike other boys.

I wasn’t into sports. I wasn’t into a lot of the pop-culture of the time. I struggled with relating.

The memories were painful.

I was in fights I didn’t want to have.

I was often bullied and picked on.

I often tried avoiding confrontation.

I did everything I could to stay out of trouble.

But, I had to walk through them. And as I did, the Lord talked me through them in what sounded like whispers.

“You’ve been avoiding challenges.”

“Stop seeing yourself as ‘other’ or ‘different.'”

“You’re afraid of getting hurt.”

When I imagined and daydreamed, I envisioned the inner boy, the boy that was the younger me, feeling alone and lost and afraid.

God made it loud and clear. That was still me in so many ways. And He was more than willing to come in and bring the healing and deliverance and development necessary to grow me up.

It all started to make sense. In some ways, I realized that I sort of avoided dealing with my inner pain and issues.

It felt embarrassing. But I could no longer afford to pose and pretend that I was as solid as I could look. Especially when deep down I craved the kind of solid inner-manhood that I thought other guys had compared to me.

The Lord began the process of walking me through breaking agreements made: the idea that I was “different” from other males or unlike other men…and made me realize that I was setting up walls to keep from connecting with men different from me…and showed me that the “different” I’m seeing is uniqueness and that I can grow from the men who are sports fans as much as the men who are into the same things as I am.

Then, asking the Lord to come in and to bring healing to the boy, made a huge difference. I prayed over everything…the school bus incidents, the bullying, the times of humiliation and embarrassment and emasculation that seemed to come from every direction to shout out the message, “you’re not a man and you’ll never be.” 

I also began praying and asking the Lord to grow me up…to help me become the man that He called me to be.

I’m grateful that God used those moments of discomfort and unsettledness to really get my attention. It has caused me to really consider who I am as a man and to consider the Word of God in my day to day living.

 

The journey continues and my hope is that for those of you reading this you’ll join me as well!

In a culture filled with men who don’t know who they are, men who choose to live like boys, men who choose false reality and virtual reality over real challenges and real life situations, it is imperative to be the men that God has called and created us to be!

The Church & Homosexuality: A Call To Respond In Love

The Introduction

How should the body of Christian believers, the church, respond to a matter that’s only becoming more forefront in our culture?

I argue that the people of God and those who follow His son Jesus Christ should respond to our changing in culture in a spirit of love and should work towards building healthy relationships that are genuine and Biblical.

We should not, as believers, approach people whether its through video, blogs, interviews or on the pulpit with a kind of visceral, ugly sprit and expect people to come to Jesus.

Who accepts a gift from someone forcing it upon them!?

There’s a better way to approach people and issues regarding sin, brokenness and matters of the heart! It’s love…the love of God and the love of Jesus.

What does that look like? I’ll get into that shortly!

 

The Boy With A Secret Sin!

 

Imagine, for a moment, an 12 or 13 year old boy. He has a sensitive heart. He’s not quite like other boys around him who may prefer sports over stories or baseball over books. He loves music, movies, the arts and things that feeds him intellectually and sparks his heart. He’s not very rough and tumble. The boy has, the Living Hope Ministry Director Ricky Chelette has said before, “It is as though they have a giant magnifying glass attached to the lens of their soul (https://livehope.org/resource/connecting-to-the-sensitive-son/).”

The boy feels deeply most things around him.

So, things said to him and things heard or experiences, are deeply felt. For a boy like this, they don’t just “get over it” that easy!

For this young man, it may be difficult to connect and relate to any of the young men around him and depending on the Father or role-models around him, they may or may not quite understand them either. And yet, it’s so key that they do. In fact, the lack of relationship there only helps dig deeper a hole in the heart of that boy.

There’s a deep yearning to be like the other guys: to have the physical features, the strength, the inner resolve of character and somewhere in the midst of loss and disconnect the desires rise.

The boy attends church. He even professes to be a Christian. But he feels like he can tell no one. He may even try to write it off as a phase or as something that will go away. He even wonders if God has already wrote him off and casted judgement on him.

Other men including his Pastor at his church may be speaking Biblical truth about homosexuality. But, he hears very little grace and mercy and a whole lot of hell. He hears more crude jokes and bullying and teasing then he does truth in love!

He hears that He needs Jesus, but, no one has truly spoken of His love for Him so great that it can fill the void in his heart and bring peace where there’s fear.

The boy feels a real reality of hell being his eternity. Rather than faith-filled…he’s fear-filled.

The boy is older and a choice has to be made. He wonders should he follow the world and just give in to his feelings and desires that feel more real than God’s love and the church to him.  Or, maybe, just maybe, the Lord is waiting on the boy to confess and admit his issues and seek the Father whom he so desperately needs.

For a lot of boys who later grew into men with the problem, they choose to follow Jesus in spite of the challenges and the pain and the sweat and the tears. But, they find healing. For so many, they choose to leave the church, feeling that many are fake, hypocritical and unloving.

They are missing out on healthy, wholesome relationships with others and, more importantly, a relationship with Christ.

Firm Preaching with Grace!

Colossians 4:5-6 says “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.  Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one (NKJV).

Dr. Warren Wiersbe of the “Wiersbe Bible Commentary” says that our speech should be “controlled by grace, so that it points to Christ and glorifies the Lord.” We should be “speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15)” and our communication must not be corrupt (Eph 4:29).

Followers of Christ should NEVER compromise when it comes to Biblical truth and lifestyle. The Bible is clear with regards to matters like sexual immorality and homosexuality.

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,  nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, NKJV).”

And how might a person present this to someone whose not of the same belief or ideas?

Grace and Christian Living In Real World Scenarios!

Those who are living a lifestyle apart from my own are expecting one of two things, a Christian whose genuine and living for Jesus and that God IS who we say He is to us. Or, they are expecting a Christian whose life is no different than their own.

The gay community at large views many Christians as fake, hateful, hypocritical and worse. Unfortunately, just like most who do not believe in God or Jesus, its to be expected. The world is expected to hate us. But, to make matters worse, many Christians make life choices or approach this population in such a way that it helps to substantiate the claims.

This is sad all around!

After speaking too numerous men and women who have either left the gay lifestyle or been delivered or struggled for years with same-sex attraction, I learned that the common theme to them turning their life over to Christ and changing their lives were people who connected with them on a personal level. In turn, when that grew and Jesus was introduced, big changes took place.

These are people who loved on them AND spoke the truth in love. These were the men and women that they had a healthy, holy relationship with. These were the mentors, the role-models and individuals who challenged them in such a way that it moved them to considering making Jesus their choice.

The people they trusted were the people they talked too about various issues that homosexuality was only symptomatic of…not feeling ‘man enough’ or like one of the guys…feeling alone…depressed…lost…stressed…worthless…the experience with the overbearing mother…experience with the passive or non-existent father…suffering molestation…abuse…and manipulation. Or…just not knowing or feeling loved.

Ever.

The sins in our lives are the result of a need that has not been sufficiently met. How the sin comes up…whether it’s adultery…pornography…drinking…excess eating…the list goes on…varies person to person.

If we are the church that believes that Jesus can fulfill those needs…let’s be the church that speaks that out and lives that out in love…with every person outside of Christ and in our church but secretly struggling.

Not Like The Other Guys

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Earlier this week, while reading “Fathered by God” by John Eldredge, I was moved to ask the question, “what is it that I believed for the longest time that hindered my growth of being the best man I could be?” Then, it hit me, and it was something that echoed in my heart and mind for the longest time.

“I’m not like the other guys!”

When I was a kid, I could remember sitting in the back in class, drawing and creating things on paper from imagination. I listened to music that was totally different from my classmates. They listened to a lot of rap and hip-hop while I kept secret my love for movie instrumentals, news themes, rock, Gospel and so forth. As a kid, my passion grew for writing, cartooning and even youth ministry.

During Elementary and Middle School I struggled to relate with other kids, especially with other boys. Up until High School, bullying and rejection was the norm.

I talked differently…dressed differently…acted differently…and that made me a target for ridicule and shame.

The more I continued to investigate this, I found out something fascinating about this thought…this very thing that I believed about myself for the longest time.

While it was true that I was different from other guys (because we all are individually unique) I also was being robbed of the idea that I was not able to ever connect with other guys in a healthy, holy and brotherly way. Truth is, there are men that we can connect with that have our best interests as well as men who can relate to some part of our story that we are living.

And, I can still dare to be different as I go forward in my masculine journey. The world needs different men…men who are strong…men who will stand up when it is inconvenient…men who will be warriors for a cause greater than themselves…for there families, for there jobs, for there community and for all.

The idea of “not being like the guys” was a well crafted lie wrapped in what sounded (and felt) like a horrible truth.

Truth is…I am like other guys. I like adventure. I like a good challenge. I have strength (I may not be buff, but I have strength that surpasses anything on the outside). I have courage.

I also found out that there are other young men much like myself…the geeky…the nerdy…critical thinkers…creatives…men of Faith…followers of Christ…my people! It took some time, but, I was able to connect and bond with other guys and build up a brotherhood unlike anything I ever experienced in boyhood.

My hope is that you do the same in your own journey.